Tara (Victoria Sanchez) is a teenager in a traveling carnival show; she’s the Wolf Girl, being as she was born with hypertrichosis, making her hairy all over. She’s targeted by four mean kids, led by Krystal (Shelby Fenner) and Beau (Shawn Ashmore), who torment her. She meets Ryan (Dov Tiefenbach), a boy whose mother (Lesley Ann Warren) is (conveniently) developing a drug for hair removal. He injects Tara with it, which makes her act gradually more feral. Though her hair is falling out, Tara’s becoming a beast personality-wise. Despite the side effects, Tara is determined to shed her fur at any cost.
When critics say Ginger Snaps is the only original werewolf movie to come out in a while, I assume they haven’t seen this one. It also has the whole werewolfery-as-symbol-for-puberty thing, and it’s also touching and thought-provoking, asking who the real monsters are. Tara’s carnival folks are a family to her; they’re all kind and caring. Tara is much more likable as a hairy but sweet girl than a snarling PMS monster. When the townspeople form an angry mob and come after Tara (a la Frankenstein, torches and all), the answer is clearer than ever.
Great performances abound, especially the carnival performers (including Tim Curry, Grace Jones–see the image below, and Darlene Cates)—their musical numbers and stunts are captivating. Even the protagonists are complex and driven by their own hidden perceived flaws: Beau has a tiny penis and Krystal is gay. (I’m assuming she’s closeted, or at least terrible at flirting; when she meets a shorn Tara and doesn’t recognize her, she mumbles that Tara is pretty and tries to kiss her. She’s barking up the wrong tree—she doesn’t want that kind of tail, hee hee hee.) Overall, it’s pretty good watchin. Give it a look if you wish Carrie had been a werewolf.