Michael J Fox, basketball and ludicrous facial hair. If those three things lead you to happy memories of 1985 comedy-horror Teen Wolf, then you’re probably one of the many whose hackles have been raised by news of the imminent TV remake.
The story of the average Joe schoolkid who suddenly discovers he can turn into a werewolf has been made into a ‘darker and sexier’ proposition for the MTV generation – Twilightified, in other words – and it begins on Sky Living next week.
‘People have been saying: “No, you can’t redo Teen Wolf!” and I laugh and say – just watch,’ says its perky, dark-eyed, 19-year-old star, Tyler Posey, who wasn’t even born when the original came out.
Has he seen it? ‘Oh God yeah,’ he says. ‘I love it. It’s a classic. The creator of this new show made us all have a Teen Wolf party round his house to watch the movie, and that was great.’
That creator is the likeably honest Jeff Davis, the man who brought us Criminal Minds, but, as a comic-book fan, he feels at home in the world of younger fantasy. He’s keenly aware of the trouble jumping on the remake bandwagon can cause – particularly when you dramatically reengineer what you’re trading off.
‘This has been very tricky water to negotiate because, as a writer, the initial reaction is that this is all being done for money, done for brand,’ admits 36-year-old Davis, who cites 1980s teen horror The Lost Boys as the real model for this revamp.
‘And in a way, yes, much of entertainment these days works on brand and franchise, from titles that are known,’ says Davis. ‘But when you sit in a room with other writers, you’re just trying to come up with the best story.’
So is he worried about the nay-sayers? ‘Well, I said the same thing about Battlestar Galactica. But that remake was phenomenal. Because of that show, the detractors haven’t bothered me that much. I wouldn’t have released this show under a different name – Wolf Boy doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.’
This Teen Wolf joins the recent Amanda Seyfried film Red Riding Hood in finally allowing wolves to step into the spotlight again, after playing second fiddle to blood-suckers in the likes of Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. For this reason alone, it will make its mark in the current wave of supernatural TV.
‘People want that escapism, that kind of wish fulfilment,’ says Davis, on the appeal of the supernatural genre. ‘But these things are very cyclical. When Scream was released, I remember a spate of horror movies coming out. It just takes a couple of really bad ones to end it. Hopefully, we aren’t one of the really bad ones…’
Davis is hoping to coax some cameos from stars of the original, most likely Jerry Levine and Susan Ursitti, who played the two best friend roles. There’ll be other nods to the past too: there is an element of humour and also some choice rants by the infamous sports coach. The basketball sequences, however, are out – replaced by, um, lacrosse. ‘It was a memorable sport from my own high school experience,’ explains Davis. ‘I always remember the lacrosse guys walking around with their sticks poking out of their bags – they always seemed like gladiators to me.’
Further changes include a dramatic about-turn in the way Scott (Posey) becomes lupine in the first place, and the introduction of parkour, to help our furry friends look cool when they’re bounding around.
The biggest change, though, has also posed the greatest challenge – creating a wolf with brooding sex appeal amid all that hair. ‘We didn’t want him to look like a puppy,’ says Davis. ‘I always say the other shows have werewolves you can pet, we have ones you can kiss. They’re sexy but could rip your throat out.’
So does that mean the (currently single) Posey could trounce his buff Twilight rival Taylor Lautner in a fight? ‘You know, Taylor’s a cool dude,’ says Posey gallantly. ‘I think he’s got me beat right now in the fitness region. But in a werewolf fight? He actually turns into a full-on wolf and I turn into this half-man, half-werewolf creature. I dunno – I would have opposable thumbs, so maybe that would win, as he’s got paws. Maybe I could use them to gouge his eyes out.’
In all fairness, he doesn’t actually come out and say he can beat him but that was the headline for this article…