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Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps movie poster
Directed by John Fawcett
Produced by Karen Lee Hall
Steven Hoban
Written by Karen Walton
John Fawcett
Starring Emily Perkins
Katharine Isabelle
Music by Mike Shields
Cinematography Thom Best
Editing by Brett Sullivan
Distributed by Motion International
Release date(s) September 10, 2000
(Toronto Film Festival)
Canada:
May 11, 2001
Running time 108 min.
Country Canada
Language English
Budget CAN $4,800,000
Followed by Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed

Ginger Snaps is a 2000 Canadian werewolf film directed by John Fawcett. The film focuses on two teenage sisters, Ginger and Brigitte Fitzgerald (Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins), who are obsessed with death. The title is a pun on the biscuit of the same name. "Snap" also relates to losing one's self-control, or a quick, aggressive bite. During the film's production, the Columbine High School massacre and the W. R. Myers High School shooting took place, causing public controversy over the film's horror themes and the funding it received from Telefilm.

Ginger Snaps was well received by critics, and compared favourably with auteur David Cronenberg's work.[1][2] Critics also praised the lead actresses performances and the film's use of lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty. Ginger Snaps won the Special Jury Citation award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Based on successful DVD sales, both a sequel, Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed, and a prequel, Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning, were filmed back to back in 2003. Though Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed had a limited, yet wider, release than the original, it failed dismally at the box office. Consequently Ginger Snaps Back went direct-to-video.

Contents

Plot

A mother finds her dog's mutilated body strung across the lawn. She runs into her front yard, sobbing uncontrollably, "It got our dog! It got our Baxter!" Meanwhile a slideshow of Brigitte (Emily Perkins) and Ginger Fitzgerald (Katharine Isabelle) creating staged deaths for a school project plays in their classroom. Their teacher and the school's guidance counsellor, Mr. Wayne, (Peter Keleghan) demands to see them after class. Later, they smoke and play: "Search and Destroy", dissing the reputation of people they dislike, and imagining how they may die. Trina Sinclair's (Danielle Hampton) friend overhears Brigitte describing Trina's character and death, and tells Trina. The sisters notice this, and Ginger tells Brigitte she will "cover her". However, as Ginger is distracted, Trina pushes Brigitte into the remains of a dog, a victim of the Beast of Bailey Downs, a wild animal which has been killing pet dogs. Together, Brigitte and Ginger decide to kidnap Trina's dog that night, and imply that the Beast of Bailey Downs killed it.

They set out, and find the mutilated corpse of another dog. They decide to take it with them to convince Trina it is actually her dog, but, as they pick it up, a leg comes off in Brigitte's hand. Brigitte notices blood on Ginger thinking it is from the dog, but the blood proves to be from Ginger's first period. The Beast of Bailey Downs attacks, and drags her into the woods screaming. Brigitte rescues Ginger. As the sisters flee, they narrowly escape being hit by an approaching van driven by Sam (Kris Lemche), which hits and kills the Beast. Brigitte finds Ginger's wounds are already healing and begs her to go to a hospital. Ginger refuses, as she does not want their mother (Mimi Rogers) to find out. After a few days, Ginger begins to grow hair from the sites of her wounds, sprouts a tail and menstruates heavily. A rift forms between the sisters after Ginger smokes marijuana with Jason, and aggressively pursues him. Ignoring Brigitte's warnings, she has unprotected sex with Jason, then kills her neighbour's dog.

Frightened by what is happening to Ginger, Brigitte turns to Sam. Agreeing the Beast of Bailey Downs is a lycanthrope, he suggests a pure silver ring may cure Ginger. Brigitte persuades Ginger to have her navel pierced using the ring, but this proves ineffective.

Later, Trina goes to the Fitzgerald house, unannounced, claiming Ginger kidnapped her dog. As Ginger and Trina fight, Trina slips, hitting her head on the corner of the kitchen counter, and dies. The sisters panic, narrowly avoiding their parents seeing them as they put the body in the freezer, explaining the blood to be part of another series of deaths. Brigitte later accidentally hacks off two fingers trying to get the corpse from the freezer. As they take Trina's body to bury it, they lose the fingers. Brigitte tells Ginger she cannot go out anymore, but Ginger proves defiant.

On the pretence that Brigitte is the one "changing" instead of Ginger, they visit Sam, who suggests a monkshood solution for Ginger's illness; and says "It grows everywhere, but only in spring". Ginger angrily replies they have no time and accuses him of just wanting to have sex with Brigitte, before storming out.

On Halloween, Brigitte takes her mother's monkshood (from a craft store), and asks Sam to make the "cure". Sam warns her she "Shouldn't let her use it alone; it's for Ginger, isn't it?". Brigitte admits the truth, and promises to go to the "Greenhouse Bash". Unfortunately, on the way home, she is forced to use it on Jason (whom Ginger infected through sex).

Ginger returns to school looking for Jason. As Brigitte arrives, a message on the PA, which is really Ginger, asks her to go to the Guidance office. She knocks, and is dragged inside by Ginger who has killed the counsellor. Brigitte calms Ginger down. Brigitte goes to find cleaning supplies, but returns to see the janitor with his throat torn open. He survives, though infected, until Brigitte says he should be gotten help, which incites Ginger to disembowel him with her hand.

The sisters' mother discovers Trina's corpse, goes to look for her daughters, sees Brigitte running, and picks her up. As she drives Brigitte to the Greenhouse Bash, she tells her that she will "let the house fill up with gas, and light a match" to erase evidence of Trina's death, and their escape. Brigitte arrives to find Sam rejecting Ginger's advances. As he approaches Ginger, she breaks his arm. In despair, Brigitte infects herself as Sam pleads with her not to. As the sisters leave, Sam knocks Ginger out with a shovel. Brigitte and Sam then take her back to the Fitzgerald house in his van, and prepare more of the cure for Ginger.

However, Ginger fully transforms into a werewolf on the way and escapes the van. Afraid, and unaware she has transformed, Sam and Brigitte hide in the pantry, and he makes the solution. As he goes to find Ginger, Ginger-Wolf mutilates Sam. Brigitte picks up the dropped syringe, and follows the blood trail downstairs. She tries to drink Sam's blood in an attempt to calm Ginger-Wolf, but chokes on it. Ginger-Wolf senses Brigitte's insincerity and kills Sam in front of her, then leaps at Brigitte. As Ginger-Wolf stalks Brigitte through the basement, Brigitte returns to the room where they grew up, finding the knife that Ginger had been using to remove her tail. The movie climaxes as a final showdown occurs and ends as Ginger-Wolf lunges at Brigitte who unknowingly stabs her. As the movie goes dark, Brigitte lays her head upon Ginger-Wolf, sobbing, listening until its breathing finally stops.

Cast

Katharine Isabelle as Ginger Fitzgerald.

Production

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Pre-production

In January 1995 John Fawcett "... knew that [he] wanted to make a metamorphosis movie and a horror film. [He] also knew that [he] wanted to work with young girls."[3] He talked to screenwriter Karen Walton, who was initially reluctant to write the script due to the horror genre's reputation for weak characters, poor storytelling, and a negative portrayal of women. However, Fawcett convinced Walton this film would re-interpret the genre.[3]

The two encountered trouble financing the film. They approached producer Steve Hoban, with whom they had worked before, and he agreed to produce the film. Hoban employed Ken Chubb to edit and polish the story, and after two years they were ready to seek financiers.[3]

Motion International committed to financing and distributing the film in Canada, and Trimark agreed to be the American distributor and financier.[3] The film seemed ready to go into production by fall of 1998, however negotiations with Trimark made the producers miss the budgeting deadline for Telefilm Canada, the Canadian federal film funding agency. Rather than go ahead with only 60% of the funding, Hoban decided to wait a year for Telefilm's funding. During this interval Trimark dropped the film. Lions Gate Films took Trimark's place, and Unapix Entertainment agreed to distribute the DVD.[3] The film's budget was less than $5,000,000 Canadian dollars.[4]

Casting

Actually casting the two leads met with substantial difficulty. Whilst a casting director was easily found for Los Angeles, Canadian casting directors proved to be appalled by the horror, gore, and language. When one finally agreed to pick up the film, the Columbine shooting and another school shooting in Alberta suddenly thrust the public spotlight on violent teens. The Toronto Star's announcement that Telefilm was funding a "teen slasher movie" met with a flurry of debate and outrage in the media, which generated a remarkable amount of (adverse) publicity for such a small, independent film.[3][5]

Casting took place in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle auditioned on the same day at their agency in Vancouver, reading to one-another off-camera. When their taped auditions arrived, screenwriter Karen Walton said that they were exactly as she had pictured the characters.[3]

Interestingly, both actresses were born in the same hospital, attended the same pre-school, elementary and private schools, and are at the same agency. Perkins was twenty-two at the time and Isabelle four years younger, but it was Perkins who would be cast as the younger sister.

Thus, after six months of fruitless searching, the two leads were found on the same day. Attention then turned to the next most important characters: the drug dealer and the mother roles. Mimi Rogers readily agreed to play the mother, Pamela, saying that she liked the black humour and comic relief in the role.[3] Robin Cook, the Canadian casting director, put forward one of her favourites, Kris Lemche, for the role of drug dealer Sam. After seeing Kris's audition, Fawcett hired him.[3]

Katharine Isabelle having a facial prosthetic applied.

Shooting

The film was shot between October 25, 1999 and December 6, 1999, lasting six weeks and two days. Three of Toronto's suburbs, Etobicoke, Brampton (Kris Lemche's home town), and Scarborough served as the suburb of Bailey Downs.[3] Shooting outside during Toronto's winter for sixteen hours a day, six days a week meant that sicknesses would make their rounds through the cast and crew every few weeks.[3][6]

On the first day of principal photography in the suburbs, all the stills photographs for the title sequence were created. The bloody, staged deaths drew a crowd and Fawcett worried about upsetting the neighbours.[3] The girls were covered in fake blood for the shots and, at the time, a homeowner's basement served as their changing room. Each time they needed to change, someone had to distract the homeowner's four-year-old child.[6]

The schedule was quickly so off kilter that cast and crew were turning up to shoot day scenes at 11pm at night, and shooting for a day scene in the greenhouse began at midnight. The Director of Photography solved the problem by using diffusion gel and four eighteen kilowatt lamps which generated enough light to be seen a mile high in the sky.[3]

The special effects proved to be a major hardship as Fawcett eschewed CGI effects, and preferred to use more traditional means of prosthetics and make-up. Consequently Isabelle had to spend up to seven hours in the makeup chair to create Ginger's transformation and a further two hours to remove them.[6] Often covered in sticky fake blood that required Borax and household detergent to remove, she further endured wearing contacts that hindered her vision and teeth that meant she couldn't speak without a lisp. The most aggravating thing was the full facial prosthetic which gave her a permanently runny nose that she had to stop up with Q-tips.[3]

Post-production

Beginning in December 1999, Brett Sullivan, the editor, worked with John Fawcett for eight weeks to create the final cut of the film.[3] Despite the short time for editing the film was nominated for a Genie in editing.[7] Sound designer David McCallum of Tattersall Despite a similarly tight schedule in the sound department, the film would also be nominated for a Genie in sound editing.[7]

Critical reception

The film was "seemingly left for dead" upon its 2000 premier at the Toronto Film Festival but is now considered a cult film.[8] The film was well received by critics, boasting an 89% freshness rating on Tomatometer.[9] Critics' praise was centred on the quality of acting by the two leads, the horrific transformation reminiscent of Cronenberg, the use of lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty, and the dark humour.[10][11][12][13]

Critics who panned the film thought the puberty metaphor too obvious, the characters too over the top (especially the mother), and the dark humour and horror elements unbalanced.[4][14] However, they did credit it as a worthy attempt and often gave it half marks on their star scales.

In terms of public opinion, the film earned Cdn$425,753 domestically, making it the fifth highest-grossing Canadian film between December 2000 and November 2001.[15] Owing to a cult following, it has managed to post significant video and DVD sales. These earnings combined with moderate theatrical success abroad have translated into the creation of a trilogy.

Because the film links lycanthropy to menstruation and features two sisters, Ginger Snaps lends itself to a feminist critique. "By simultaneously depicting female bonds as important and fraught with difficulties, Ginger Snaps portrays the double-binds teenage girls face." and "Ginger is an embodiment of these impossible binaries: she is at once sexually attractive and monstrous, 'natural' and 'supernatural,' human and animal, 'feminine' and transgressive, a sister and a rival."[16]

Nominations & awards

The International Horror Guild named Ginger Snaps the best film of 2001.[17] Málaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema awarded it best film, best special effects, and best actress Emily Perkins.[18] The Toronto International Film Festival gave it a Special Jury Citation.[19] Ginger Snaps won the first Saturn Award for best DVD release of 2002 from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA.[20] Karen Walton won a Canadian Comedy award for Pretty Funny Writing.[21]

Ginger Snaps was nominated for Genie awards in cinematography, editing, and sound editing.[7]

Soundtrack

The soundtrack was released on Roadrunner Records.

TV series

Grant Harvey, a producer on both the second and third films, thought a TV series probably the best way to extend the franchise, citing the idea of tracing a character "from story to story, setting to setting, telling stories about werewolves," inspired by Brendan Fletcher having appeared in both the sequel and prequel (as different characters). But such decisions rest with Steve Hoban, senior producer of the trilogy, who made it clear there were no plans for more Ginger Snaps films, pointing to the failure of the sequels to secure theatrical releases as the reason. Though he gave some hope to fans, stating that were there enough interest in the sequels, and the DVDs did well enough, there "was a good chance of some kind of Ginger Snaps project in the future". He went on to say that, whether it be in film or TV series form, he favoured taking it forward with the character of "Ghost" from the sequel (played by Tatiana Maslany).[22] As of 2008, no further information has developed, and it remains to be seen if a TV series will materalize.

References

  1. ^ Kehr, David (2001). "She Was a Teenage Werewolf". New York Times. Retrieved November 18, 2006.
  2. ^ Lim, David. "Vicious Cycles Ginger Snaps; A Chronicle of Corpses; Kill by Inches" (2001). Village Voice. Retrieved November 18, 2006.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o TVA International (2000-07-17). "Ginger Snaps: Press Kit". Press release. http://www.ginger-snaps.com/presskit.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-30. 
  4. ^ a b Nusair, David. "Ginger Snaps (2001)". reelfilm.com. Retrieved November 19, 2006.
  5. ^ Taylor, Charles (October 26, 2001). ""Ginger Snaps"". salon.com. http://archive.salon.com/ent/movies/review/2001/10/26/ginger_snaps/index.html. Retrieved 2006-11-30. 
  6. ^ a b c Allan, Keri. "Katharine Isabelle" (2001). sci-fi-online.com. Retrieved November 19, 2006.
  7. ^ a b c "Canadian Awards History Search". http://www.academy.ca/hist/history.cfm?stitle=Ginger+Snaps&awyear=0&winonly=0&awards=0&rtype=2&curstep=4&submit.x=52&submit.y=11. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  8. ^ The A.V. Club - "The New Cult Canon - Ginger Snaps"
  9. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes". http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/ginger_snaps. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  10. ^ "Blood Sisters"(2000). Sight and Sound. Retrieved November 28, 2006.
  11. ^ Waldron-Mangani, Ian. "Ginger Snaps" (2001). ukcritic.com. Retrieved November 19, 2006.
  12. ^ Axmaker, Sean. "'Ginger Snaps' is a teen werewolf film with real bite". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved November 19, 2006.
  13. ^ Gonzalez, Ed. "Ginger Snaps" (2000). Slant Magazine. Retrieved November 19, 2006.
  14. ^ Chambers, Bill. "Ginger Snaps" (2001). filmfreakcentral.net. Retrieved November 19, 2006.
  15. ^ Bracken, Laura. "Monsters make move on Edmonton" (2003). Playback Magazine. Retrieved November 19, 2006.
  16. ^ Nielsen, Bianca (March 2004). ""Something's Wrong, Like More Than You Being Female": Transgressive Sexuality and Discourses of Reproduction in Ginger Snaps". Thirdspace. http://www.thirdspace.ca/articles/3_2_nielsen.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-15. 
  17. ^ "International Horror Guild". http://www.ihgonline.org/prevrec.html#2001. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  18. ^ "Semana Internacional de Cine Fantàstico de Málaga" (in Spanish). http://www.fantastico.uma.es/premios/premios2001.html. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  19. ^ "The Film Reference Library". http://www.filmreferencelibrary.ca/index.asp?layid=44&csid1=372&navid=46. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  20. ^ "Saturn Award Winners". http://www.saturnawards.org/past.html#dvdrelease. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  21. ^ "IMDB list of Canadian Comedy Awards". http://www.imdb.com/Sections/Awards/Canadian_Comedy_Awards/2002. Retrieved 2006-12-29.  IMDB is used because the official site repeats the television winners as the film winners.
  22. ^ Grove, David. "Ginger Snaps - The Series" (2004). creaturecorner.com. Retrieved November 18, 2006.

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