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  I Was a Teenage Werewolf Every Parent's Nightmare
Year: 1957
Director: Gene Fowler Jr
Stars: Michael Landon, Yvonne Lime, Whit Bissell, Tony Marshall, Dawn Richard, Barney Phillips, Ken Miller, Cindy Robbins, Michael Rougas, Robert Griffin, Joseph Mell, Malcolm Atterbury, Eddie Marr, Vladimir Sokoloff, Louise Lewis, Guy Williams
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: There's a fight going down outside the school playing field and teenage Tony Rivers (Michael Landon) is at the centre of it. Soon the police arrive to chase away the spectators and break up the brawlers, who are known to them because Tony has been getting into a lot of trouble of late. After discussing it with them, the cops work out this was all based on a misunderstanding, but Tony is too liable to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation, so a solution is offered: how about he visits a doctor to see about curing his personality disorder medically?

Which is a nice idea, but turns out to be a great error of judgement when the doctor (familiar face Whit Bissell in one of his largest roles) has his own agenda. This was the fifties and straight horror movies had gone out of fashion unless they were being made by Hammer, so with the A.I.P. versions, as this was an example, the reason for the scares was all down to science, and science gone bad at that. This was why the familiar horror character of the wolfman adopted a far less supernatural explanation for his crimes here.

I Was a Teenage Werewolf was directed by erstwhile editor Gene Fowler Jr, no stranger to confessional titles as I Married a Monster from Outer Space was also one of his, and while most of it is rather functional and plainly presented, he did manage to create some memorable scenes from the script, co-written by producer Herman Cohen, set on a course of exploitation flicks for the rest of his own career. First we have to get the Search for Bridey Murphy-style hypnotism out of the way, as Tony is persuaded to attend the doctor's offices after a blow up at a party (no wonder when you hear how bad the song performed there was).

The Doc has got it into his head that the world would be better off reverting back to the Stone Age and all the savagery that entailed, but this is not Teenage Caveman (that was Robert Vaughn), so the unfortunate side effect is that Tony transforms into a werewolf with some of the biggest fangs the genre ever offered. Fowler keeps his star out of makeup as long as possible, leaving the first attack looking as if a crazed cameraman killed the victim, but as with many Cohen films, it's the introduction of a note of sleaze which makes for the most memorable sequence.

This is when Tony (Landon is a long way away from starring in Bonanza or The Little House on the Prairie) walks by the school gym and catches sight of a gymnast practicing her stretches. His casual lust boils over into a burst of primal rage when the bell rings, startling him and triggering the transformation, sending snarling him after the poor girl (actually Playboy Playmate Dawn Richard). Nothing afterwards quite beats that, and the story progresses pretty much as you would expect, but Landon manages to make his lycanthrope as much a victim of the doctor's research as those he murders, not bad going for a somewhat cardboard cliché of a threat. This is horror movie as juvenile delinquent flick, and while pretty unembellished, still proves diverting since in its metaphorical manner it's surprisingly appropriate to feature a teen werewolf. Music by Paul Dunlap.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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