A troubled teenager seeks help through hypnotherapy, but his evil doctor uses him for regression experiments that transform him into a rampaging werewolf.
Michael Landon ... Tony Rivers (The Teenage Werewolf)
Yvonne Lime ... Arlene Logan
Whit Bissell ... Dr. Alfred Brandon
Tony Marshall ... Jimmy
Dawn Richard ... Theresa
Barney Phillips ... Det. Sgt. Donovan
Ken Miller ... Vic (the bongo player)
Cindy Robbins ... Pearl, Vic's Girl
Michael Rougas ... Frank
Robert Griffin ... Police Chief P.F. Baker
Joseph Mell ... Dr. Hugo Wagner (Brandon's assistant)
Malcolm Atterbury ... Charles Rivers
Director: Gene Fowler Jr.
Codecs: Mpg / MP3
You really had to be a teenager in 1957 to appreciate the effect this movie had on teens back then. Elvis was just starting out and there are similarites to the reactions of adults and teenagers to both icons. (In fact Yvonne Lime was "dating" Elvis (pictures of Elvis and Yvonne together were in movie magazines back then) when this film was made and from what I understand, he even visited the set. Too bad they couldn't have had him sing a song in it!) There is an amazing backstory AMC could make about the senate hearings on juvenile delinquency and this film; the senators mentioned the bad effects this film had on teenagers even though none of them had seen it!
Anyway, Gene Fowler Jr (who had edited Academy Award films like LAURA) was chosen to direct this, his first film and although he at first had second thoughts about doing it, his wife convinced him "no one would see it anyway." Boy, was she wrong! His background as an editor helped him be a better first-time director than most and helped make this picture, made on a shoe-string budget in only 7 days, better than all the other teen horror films back then. The camera angles on the fight at the beginning, Dawn Richard's gymnist seeing the werewolf upside down at first (and therefore the audience too), showed that he had good ideas in setting up shots.
Michael Landon, contrary to what some believe, never downplayed his connection to this film for it gave him his start in show business. He may at first have had doubts about being connected with it with the initial uproar, which is why he turned down the chance to play the werewolf a second time, but after that, he never bad-mouthed the film. In fact, he paid homage to it on a Halloween episode of "Highway to Heaven."
Anyway, the acting is good all around with standout performances by Landon and Whit Bissell. The "science" used to turn Tony into the monster may be silly today, but in the 1950's, there were a lot of talk and film plots about past-life regression following the Bridey Murphy newspaper accounts (also used in THE SHE-CREATURE). Again you had to live in the 1950's to understand all this. Philip Scheer's werewolf makeup is one of the better pre-Howling/American Werewolf ones in movie history and while the transformation scene isn't as good as in THE WOLF MAN or THE WEREWOLF, the director did not have a lot of money or time to work with and did a good job considering.
A film has to be pretty good, even with a low budget, to be as successful as this one was...and to remain a cult favorite 45 years later. It has stood the test of time and deserves to be considered a classic of its kind.
Despite its apt but risible title, "I Was a Teenage Werewolf," surprises in both the sincerity of its playing, as well as by its accomplished technical credentials. Campy confessional title nothwithstanding, there is nothing about the screenplay that is deliberately parodic.
Effectively photographed by distinguished cinematographer Joseph La Shelle, and bolstered by an excellent musical score, the film thus provides a solid showcase for both its scenario and the performances of its young principals.
More importantly, (and this is what gives the picture a leg up on others of its ilk) the film is moodily under-lit, giving much of it a film noir ambiance. This is most evident in the hypnosis sequences, (the best in the film) which are staged and photographed in a way very reminiscent of Lewton's "Cat People."
Anyone doubting the value of the change purse aesthetics at work here need only consult the negligible results attained in such schlock as "Blood of Dracula" or the pre-Poe Corman films, which make "Teenage Werewolf" look like David Lean by comparison. Here the sincere effort of the technical crew shows: an unsettled, fatalistic brooding mood is generated, taking equal measure from the sense of doom hanging over the protagonist and expressed in shadows everywhere, even in mid-day living rooms and psychiatrist's offices.
Mr. Landon brings a sensitive intensity to the role that is wholly convincing, and he is ably abetted by all in support. Mr. Sokoloff is fine in his masculine reprise of the Maria Ouspenkaya role from Lon Chaney's "The Wolfman," and a pre Zorro Guy Williams shows up effectively as a policeman.
While admittedly done on a modest budget, this limitation is actually an asset, inasmuch as it prevents the art direction from going over the top in its very effective depiction of proletariat domestic interiors, (Miss Lime's character even has Archie and Edith Bunker type parents.) Thus, the homes, teen club, principal's office etc. are "right on the money."
Even so, sharp eyed viewers will note that a leather sofa does double duty in both the police detective's and Miss Fergusan's office. Similarly, Dr. Brandon's and Miss Fergusan's respective office's are the same set, re-arranged, and re-dressed.
For his part, Mr. Landon, flush with his TV western success, and (equipped with accompanying footage), lampooned his role in the film in a 1969 guest appearance on the Jerry Lewis TV show.