Friday night at the home drive-in: I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)

Poster for I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) by #GeneFowlerJr

w/#MichaelLandon #YvonneLime #WhitBissell

A hypnotherapist transforms a temperamental teenager into a #werewolf.

“The most amazing motion picture of our time!”

“It’s not for man to interfere in the ways of God.”

#Horror #SciFi

I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) is one of the most famous B-movies, teen movies, and werewolf movies in the history of cinema – or at least it is to me. Even as a kid, I knew about this movie. I’d heard about it, read about it, and seen pictures from it in books and magazines. Of course I’d never SEEN it, but that’s the way it was back then. No internet, no video stores – only late night TV could possibly give me an opportunity to experience this movie, and that just never quite happened. 

I was probably an adult by the time I finally got to see it, and I think I was just a little bit disappointed that first time. It was good, but not as good as some of the other, similar movies I’d seen over the years. For some reason I was partial to Blood of Dracula (1957), as I may have mentioned a few weeks ago…

Don’t get me wrong. I liked I Was a Teenage Werewolf back then, and I like it even more now. But I think if there’s one thing wrong with it, it’s that the main character, Tony Rivers played by Michael Landon, is a tad unsympathetic at the beginning of the movie. He seems like an ill-tempered jerk, to be honest. And looking at it with modern eyes, he seems like the kind of guy who’s destined to beat his girlfriend in the future, after she becomes his wife. He becomes violent at the slightest provocation – which apparently makes him the perfect candidate for a mad doctor’s experiments. 

The mad doctor, Alfred Brandon, is played by Whit Bissell (who has one of the greatest names in the history of actors, by the way). Dr Brandon’s theory goes something like this:

“I’m going to TRANSFORM him, and unleash the savage instincts that lie hidden within… and then I’ll be judged the benefactor. Mankind is on the verge of destroying itself. The only hope for the human race is to hurl it back into its primitive norm, to start all over again. What’s one life compared to such a triumph?”

When his assistant, Dr Hugo Wagner played by Joseph Mell, protests, their conversation goes something like this:

Dr Wagner: But you’re sacrificing a human life!

Dr Brandon: Do you cry over a guinea pig? This boy is a free police case. We’re probably saving him from the gas chamber.

Dr Wagner: But the boy is so young, the transformation horrible –

Dr Brandon: And you call yourself a scientist! That’s why you’ve never been more than an assistant.

In case it isn’t clear, these moments are #NotQuiteClassicCinema gold!

Tony’s long suffering girlfriend, Arlene Logan, is played by Yvonne Lime, and I found myself wondering a few times what exactly she sees in him. But then again, the real world is full of guys like Tony. Perhaps under the care of the right doctor, they could all be turned into werewolves…

I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) is a legendary example of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. Apparently MIchael Landon even parodied it many years later on his popular TV series Highway to Heaven (1984-1989). The episode was called I Was A Middle Aged Werewolf and can be found on YouTube for those who are curious. While I would never call I Was a Teenage Werewolf one of my favourite B-movies, or teen movies – or monster movies of the late 1950s – it’s still a lot of fun, and it’s an important piece of pop culture that should be screened by every film fan at least once on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.