I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on February 24th, 2022 | Movie Review | Classic Horror, Werewolf

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It’s about teen angst – facial hair, sexual frustration, and just trying to fit in. 

I Was a Teenage Werewolf was directed by Gene Fowler Jr. (I Married a Monster from Outer Space and Rebel Set) and stars Michael Landon (Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and Highway to Heaven), Yvonne Fedderson (a/k/a Yvonne Lime) (High School Hellcats and Dragstrip Riot), Whit Bissell (Creature from the Black Lagoon and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein), and Tony Marshall (a/k/a Charles Wilcox) (Rockabilly Baby and Speed Crazy).

Can teenager-ism be cured with hypnotism and an injection of scopolamine or two?

I Was a Teenage Werewolf  Review

Dr. Alfred Brandon is a “psychologist” who works at the local aircraft manufacturing plant. He specializes in pharmacology hypnotherapy. Who better to turn to when one suffers an unfortunate case of anger outbursts (often, as we know, symptomatic of teenage onset lycanthropy)? 

This might be a reasonable course of action in most circumstances. But Dr. Brandon has his own warped agenda. Scientific inquiry trumps patient care in his mind, especially if it’s just a side gig from his regular job at the plant. Dr. Brandon is eager to try out a little serum he’s been fiddling around with – scopolamine – also known as Devil’s Breath – a synthetic tropane alkaloid normally used to treat nausea – but in this case, designed to regress personality development to more primitive states. 

(Wouldn’t that be helpful? Can you imagine the applications? I can’t. But Dr. Brandon claims the best hope for mankind lies in reversing human development to primitive states of consciousness. Seems like a bad idea. It’s this deep-seated distrust of science which makes I Was a Teenage Werewolf more interesting than your mid-century juvenile delinquency flick.) 

Dr. Brandon proceeds to supervise several sessions with troubled teenage Tony Rivers (played by a 30-ish Michael Landon). Dr. Hugo, Brandon’s assistant, protests, but to no avail. Dr. Brandon puts Tony under his spell and implants suggestions that the teen was once a wild animal. 

It works! Before long, Tony is on the rampage, killing other teens – and even a dog. It reminded me on some level of Ken Russell’s Altered States. That film didn’t turn out too well for its protagonist, either.

Perhaps modern psychology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I think that’s the moral of the story.

Worth Watching?

It’s a fun romp. Sure, go ahead. It may not live up to its own hype (“The most amazing motion picture of our time!”) but it’s not half-bad.  It’s the first film ever to sport the word “teenager” in its title. Plus, it launched the acting career of Pa Ingalls.

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