Teen Wolf Teen Wolf

The dog days of summer are about to get hotter — and a whole lot scarier.

Based on the kitschy 1985 Michael J. Fox big-screen comedy about a pubescent, van-surfing furball, MTV's Teen Wolf remake could have been a total mutt. But thanks to some serious tweaking — and a supernaturally attractive cast — the cable net has unleashed a wolf of a different color.

"They said they wanted to go darker and sexier, so I asked, 'What if we did it like The Lost Boys?" explains executive producer Jeff Davis, who previously cut his teeth as creator of the grisly Criminal Minds. "That was really the paradigm we chose."

Sexy and spooky enough to send the original campfest scampering off with its tail between its legs, this update fits in more with TV's current litter of lycanthropes on The Vampire Diaries and True Blood. But that's not to say this doesn't share some DNA with the Fox flick. "It's a funny movie," contends Davis. "So when we were writing the series, we made sure to put plenty of humor into it as well."

Like the film, the reboot centers on an adorkable high schooler named Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), goofball best buddy Stiles (Dylan O'Brien) and, well, the full moon. That's pretty much where the similarities are shed. This Scott favors lacrosse over basketball, his wild side is brought out by a run-in with a four-legged foe, not a tainted bloodline, and he's no longer a wolf pack of one. Instead, he's got a mysterious new girl in town, Allison Argent (Crystal Reed), to keep him panting and a broody, equally cursed ally named Derek (Tyler Hoechlin from Road to Perdition) to Obi-Wan him in the ways of the wolf. And then there's all the teen angsty stuff, too.

"It's really a metaphor for a kid going through the changes of becoming a man and dealing with his first love... amplified by 100," laughs the likable Posey, who worked with his stunt double to get the animal moves down during the series' six-month shoot in Atlanta. "He wants to be popular, he wants the girl... he's tired of being this outcast at school. But it's one of those things where you have to be careful what you wish for, because he gets all of that, but with it, he almost dies on a daily basis."

Not to spoil why Scott's always in jeopardy, but there is, of course, a mythology to the madness in his life. In the final moments of the pilot, a clear villain emerges with ties to someone very dear to Scott's heart. "It was our way to give a really good Romeo and Juliet conflict," says Davis, hinting that Scott and Allison will find themselves in the middle of a family feud as old as the hills. "We compare it to the Hatfields and the McCoys," he adds. "I was gonna say the McFlys, but that's another Michael J. Fox movie!"

As the story plays out, viewers can expect more baddies to pop up, more blood to be spilled and maybe even a few in-jokes: Davis, a friend of Vampire Diaries executive producer Kevin Williamson, hints that Mystic Falls fans may get a laugh out of the second episode's lacrosse game.

Still, the humor is secondary to the horror, which is why Davis was so intent on giving Scott's transition from boy to beast as much bite as possible. "The other shows aren't really doing werewolves," he says. "We're the only one going for full makeup effects." From claws and teeth to ears and what Davis laughingly refers to as "the finest bits of yak hair," the end results (created by the teams behind The Walking Dead and Star Trek) are "more monstrous werewolves than what you've seen on [TV]." But for Posey, the experience was far from hair-raising. "It really helped getting into the makeup," he confesses. "I did not feel like myself and it was so much fun."

Sounds like a howlingly good time.

Teen Wolf premieres Sunday, June 5 at 11/10c on MTV.

Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!