Ginger Snaps tells the story of sisters overcoming the challenges of puberty... and becoming a werewolf. On the surface, this film is a fun puberty, b-horror adventure that manages to also highlight the struggles with becoming a woman while entertaining its audience with puns, outrageous characters, and absurd props and gore. Gabe discusses their own desire to be made into a silly monster puppet. Kat explains the real Werewolf Trials that took place long before Witches were burned at the stake. Also, maybe they discuss furries?
Media from this week's episode:
Ginger Snaps (2000)
Two death-obsessed sisters, outcasts in their suburban neighborhood, must deal with the tragic consequences when one of them is bitten by a deadly werewolf.
Directed by: John Fawcett
Ginger Snaps: Sisterhood, Suicide Pacts & Puberty Woes by Gabe Castro
RED: Quotes, someone else's words.
Hell is a teenage girl. Oh wait, that was last week’s episode! Well, hell is still teenage girls it turns out and these ones are furry. Where Jennifer’s Body had gruesome teeth, repressed queer girls, boy murder, and hot Megan Fox, Ginger Snaps has extra nipples, furry scars, excessive dog murder, and hot Katharine Isabelle (American Mary fame).
Ginger Snaps follows two sisters, Ginger and B who are not your average teen girls. They’re edgy, emo, have signed a suicide pact, and are absolutely over everything. The movie starts by showing us just how much of an outsider our protagonists are. They aren’t interested in boys, drugs, or even becoming women. We find out that both Ginger and B have yet to have gotten their period despite being in High School. And they’re completely fine with it never happening to them. With puberty comes maturity, expectation, obligation, and hormones. And as they mentioned, they were due to be out of this life by 16. They are obsessed with death, having gone so far as to pose in a multitude of suicide photos for a class project. But then Ginger abruptly gets her period and it’s here things start to change for the sisters.
It’s a typical angsty teenage girl film if not for the excessive dog murders. All throughout their small, humble, suburban town neighbor’s pets have been found grotesquely torn apart. As a bit of revenge, the sisters plan to stage the death of their nemesis’ dog. On their way to cover the dog with corn syrup and red dye #9, they find the dog - already dead and his body is still warm. Ginger is then attacked by a creature, we learn later that he is a werewolf. She is brutally mauled in the woods and lacklusterly saved by her sister. Ginger is SHOOK but quickly finds that she’s quite okay. In fact, her wounds are healing and what's a bit of strange hair in places?
“I can’t have hair on my tits, B. That’s fucked!”
Ghouls have covered werewolves before. In fact, we covered them right after we covered Jennifer’s Body the last time! However, we actually invited our two close friends and now partners to host that episode as it was titled, Monstrous Men. The werewolf has most often been a character symbolizing puberty. This film certainly reminds us of that. Your body is going through changes, hair growing in weird spots, emotions and impulses you can’t control, and more - puberty is the worst! With Ginger Snaps, we have the added bonus of this transformation being about a girl’s puberty experience. When Ginger begins bleeding in a very alarming way, it’s brushed off as a heavy flow. The full moon? Well, it’s called moon sickness, hun, brush it out. B mentions in the beginning how Ginger may’ve even been attacked by a bear because of her period, saying the scent attracted them. Didn’t they used to send women away, off into the woods, during their monthlies?
Ginger’s transformation includes a little tail that just keeps on growing. She also gains some extra nipples, lots of hair, and eventually she becomes an extra from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, visually. But more than her obvious werewolf changes, Ginger is a woman now. She begins to take an interest in boys and drugs. She no longer wears her oversized jacket but instead walks freely, confidently through the halls as herself, just now hot.
More than puberty:
This film is 100% about puberty. As on-the-nose as much of the humor around puberty and werewolves is, it somehow evolved past satire into a genuine horror film about the connection of two sisters and the oppressive world around them that sought ownership of their maturing bodies. I watched an amazing video by Scardey Cats on Youtube titled, I was wrong about Ginger Snaps! and was happy to see I wasn’t the only one seeing the charm of this film.
But as the host over at Scardey Cats and I will tell you, there’s always more than meets the eye. Ginger Snaps is a heartfelt story about two sisters, and lots of gruesome murder. B and Ginger used to do everything together. In fact, after a dinnertime quarrel that results in Ginger stomping off, B makes to leave after her to which her mom replies, “You’re not attached at the wrist you know.” They were even going to die together! So when Ginger starts doing things the girls had previously deemed uncool and beneath them, a rift opens between them. When Ginger begins eating boys, mostly out of a subconscious need to protect B, the rift grows bigger. Ginger loves her sister, and in being shoved into this new maturity where her body is no longer her own and is no longer in her control, she is doing what she can to save B from the same fate. She’s now been on the other side, where boys see her body before they know who she is and decide what her worth is. She is wary of all men, assuming they mean to rob B of her purity and innocence.
Like Jennifer in Jennifer’s Body, her body has been stolen from her and transformed into something monstrous. Her confidence and sexuality, an evil tool. All these two girls have ever had was each other. Not exactly the healthiest relationship (remember the suicide pact!) but a genuine codependency. It's reminiscent of Jennifer and Needy without the sexual tension, at least most of the time. There is a point in the film in which Ginger feels that in her transformation she is so far from who she was that she’s not even B’s sister anymore. And for a moment it gets…uncomfortable.
Unlike JB, the boys in this film are mostly the worst. Ginger decides to unleash some sexual enery with jock and doucheboy, Jason. It gets weird when she bites him and tries to eat him but instead, he becomes a werewolf too. But what’s more interesting here is how Ginger reacts, she isn’t upset that she almost ate a boy (and not in the good way) but that they hadn’t had sex but he was going to tell everyone he did anyway. She is so aware and upset at the patriarchal society for catering to his lens and needs. There is a lovable, charming, “drug” dealer Sam who quickly takes to the occult theory and offers to help B in her quest for a cure. And I absolutely loved how he wasn’t a love interest in this. When confronted by the spiraling and overprotective Ginger about his close relationship with B, (who, she reminds him, is only 15), he lets her know quickly he doesn’t see her like that. He lets B know that too and he doesn’t go back on his word. In Jennifer’s Body, I was pretty miffed that Needy’s boyfriend made out with Jennifer, even if his heart wasn’t in it, he was doing it and it takes entirely too long for him to be like, “Nah this ain't it.” When Ginger throws herself at Sam, in an attempt to use whatever she has to regain some semblance of control, he’s pretty quick to turn her down.
The last character I want to mention though, is their mom. What a wonderful human. I loved her the minute I saw her adorable mom sweater with the cornucopias. She is a typical film mom, being just out of touch with reality but still all up in your business. She loves her daughters and is desperate to understand them. When she discovers how naughty Ginger has been, including the murder of a fellow student, she doesn’t judge. She doesn’t know she’s a werewolf but she does know her kids are weird and so assumes Ginger did it to protect B. She immediately lets B know that she is going to burn the house down and escape down, just the three of them. And she takes full responsibility for it, knowing that’s what the world will think. Because that’s the role of the mother, just as the evil emotional and sexual werewolf is the role of the new woman. Society has already put us into these boxes, we just need to learn to navigate them.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It’s such a campy fun adventure. I didn’t mind the constant puns or clear “THIS IS PUBERTY” connections, didn’t even roll my eyes once! I’m a sucker for late 90’s/early 2000’s girl boss films (looking at you Jawbreaker and Sugar & Spice) so I knew I would be hooked. But it’s also a genuinely good campy horror film. The effects are fun and there’s great suspense that ends in relief or pain. The full werewolf transformation was so fun and silly that I was crying tears of laughter. AND it gave me a new career goal: One day I want to star in a horror film that finds me as some terrible creature puppet for the last 20 minutes just so I can point at it and go THAT’S ME!
Before America Burned Witches, They Held Werewolf Trials by Kat Kushin
RED: Quotes, someone else's words.
The She-wolf has a fascinating history that differs from many of the man turns wolf stories that exist as a point of lore throughout history. There are a lot of theories on why werewolf lore is so prevalent in mythology and historical writing, and it’s possible this stems from the fact that wolves and humanity have existed as competitors for hunting for most of humanity's existence. There is also a lot of correlation between the coming of age and puberty that aligns with werewolf lore. The persecution of the possible werewolf transformation seems to have a pretty stressful history, and this is something I had never heard about so I was honestly pretty surprised when I read it. But before we get into that let’s define a werewolf. In an article on history.com, titled History of the Werewolf legend, defined “The werewolf as a mythological animal and the subject of many stories throughout the world—and more than a few nightmares. Werewolves are, according to some legends, people who morph into vicious, powerful wolves. Others are a mutant combination of human and wolf. But all are bloodthirsty beasts who cannot control their lust for killing people and animals.” Many werewolf sightings and historical accounts were generally associated with serial killers and more specifically instances in which children were murdered or eaten by someone.This differs from accounts within mythology, and lore, as that largely seemed to correlate with hypersexuality, hair growth, and existing outside the gender or domesitic norms of the time. One thing that I discovered that stood out for me though was the existence of werewolf trials.
Apparently there were werewolf trials much like the Salem witch trials that took place about 200 years before in Europe. In an article on the History.com website titled “Before America Had Witch Trials, Europe Had Werewolf Trials” by Melinda Beck. “Some 200 years before the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, courts in Europe were convicting men—and some women—of transforming into werewolves and mutilating and eating children. The punishments were sometimes as gruesome as the alleged crimes. In Germany in 1589, executioners strapped accused werewolf Peter Stumpp to a cart wheel, removed his skin with hot pinchers and chopped off his head before burning his body at the stake. Stumpp's head, attached to a wooden pole carved into the likeness of a wolf, was later displayed as a warning to others tempted to consort with the Devil.” The article goes on to explain that the lore associated with werewolves largely overlapped with fears of occultism, interactions with the devil, and interactions with hallucinogenic plants, salvs, or other methods of altering one's mental state. The results were individuals conducting horrific acts of violence, murder, or other bloodthirsty rampages. There was some medical explanations for individuals that were mistakenly perceived as werewolves across history “Modern medical experts theorize that some accused werewolves could have suffered from porphyria, which causes sensitivity to light, reddish teeth and psychosis; or hypertrichosis, a hereditary condition that manifests in excessive hair growth. Lycanthropy—believing oneself to be a werewolf—might have been brought on by deliberately or unwittingly consuming hallucinogenic herbs, mushrooms or folk concoctions.”
There is some overlap honestly, between werewolves and succubi, and witches, and other presentations with monstrous femme creatures, in that they all kinda represent similar things. They stem from the fear associated with the rejection of gender norms, societal norms, and sexuality norms. Both werewolves and succubi have stories of baby eating, and more aggressive sexual natures. The embracing of sex and sexuality not as a means of procreation but from a point of pleasure and power. The rejection of motherhood, and of domestic life was something that was consistently represented in the lore of a she-wolf. I found a book that spoke to this She-wolf: A cultural history of female werewolves by Hannah Priest. In their book they talk about the complex history of the she-wolf, and the many things the she-wolf has represented in societal fears. They brought up a Shakira song in the book and had some really interesting things to say in terms of what the song represented. The lyrics are
“A domesticated girl, that’s all you ask of me, darling it is no joke, this is lycanthropy” thus domestication stands in sharp contrast to lycanthropy. The existence of lycanthropy, and the embrace of the vibrant femininity is a rejection of the patriarchy and domestic life. The song continues “I’ve been devoting myself to you Monday to Monday, Friday to Friday. Not getting enough retribution or incentives to keep me at it.” Thus, ‘lycanthropy’ is an alternative to the patriarchal control of both the home and the contemporary workplace. The video itself shows
“Lithe, near-nude, contorting flesh both demands and threatens the male gaze. Hints of violence are offered and diffused by sexualised, vibrant femininity.”