From the video case: Michael Landon made his first starring role one to remember. He brings a fierce intensity to the role of Tony, a likable high-schooler prone to outbursts of violence. A psychiatrist (Whit Bissell) treats Tony for his aggression, but the treatment is worse than the disease. Tony becomes a werewolf and begins a murderous spree that makes his past behavior look like a stroll in the park. (1957, b&w)
Mark says: This was an incredibly successful film (grossing ten times its cost within a year of release) and is credited for the string of “I Was A Teenage Fill-In-The-Blank” movies that followed. It’s a delightfully cheesy peek into the 1950s adolescent mindset.
Michael Landon plays Tony Rivers, an angst-ridden, teenage boy. He fights, he loves, he plays pranks, and fights some more. He’s half-way to being a werewolf already when he is sent to Dr. Brandon, played by B-movie regular, Whit Bissell (Creature from the Black Lagoon, Monster on the Campus) who is supposed to help him with his anger issues.
Little does anyone know that Dr. Brandon has a plan to hurl mankind back into it’s “primitive dawn” so humans can start all over. Through drugs and hypnotic regression, he transforms Tony into a hairy boy-beast who chomps down on his teenage friends and wrestles with a German Shepard, all without ever having to take off his school jacket.
Both Landon and Bissell play their parts with gusto, which gives this film most of its charm, and there is some great 1950s slang that proves entertaining when the movie hits slower moments. Teenage Werewolf also features a singing-dance number which is sufficiently cheesy enough to be engaging.
The werewolf make-up is adequate, but I think more effort could have been put into his fangs. He has sort of a buck-toothed appearance, which is never a good look for a wolf man.
I Was A Teenage Werewolf is great fun, but does not withstand repeated viewings well. I give this movie some strong points for its wonderfully campy title, though, and the scene where the werewolf meets the gymnast is classic.
This picture is directed by Gene Fowler, Jr., who directed the equally campy titled, I Married A Monster from Outer Space.
Scene to watch for: Tony gets very angry at a bottle of milk.
Line to listen for: “I amuse myself with fantasy. I live by facts.”
Bonus: Kenny Miller (Vic, the bongo player) remembers the making of I Was A Teenage Werewolf. Click here.
Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! out of 5.