Unleash the Savage Instincts that Lie Hidden Within: I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1957)

 

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I’m going to TRANSFORM him, and unleash the savage instincts that lie hidden within… 

So this is another werewolf film, and a B horror film, that doesn’t end well. And to be perfectly honest that’s how I like them.

Say What

As depressing as that sounds, I like it when the werewolf story ends like that that because it’s closer to the original story. Here we have a good man, who has been turned into something he doesn’t want to be and can’t control. It’s sad and poetic at the same time.

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying sad

So the big reason I watched this film was because it first of all was about a werewolf, which you all know I love. And it stars Michael Landon.

Michael Landon

So the story is about Tony Rivers (Michael Landon) a boy who is known for losing his temper. His dad is constantly telling him he should get help for his anger problems, but Tony won’t listen. He doesn’t believe he has any issues at all. After a really bad fight on campus with a classmate, the police get involved. The Detective urges Tony to meet up with a psychologist. The thing that really pushes him to reform is his girlfriend Arlene (Yvonne Lime). She tells him he has too many issues and she can’t date a guy like that. At a party that night he attacks his friend when he surprises him, and that pushes him into seeking help from the acclaimed Dr. Alfred Brandon.

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Now this is what makes the whole story so sad. He is earnestly trying to get help and fix his problems, but everything goes bad as he turns to the evil Doctor. I tell ya, I don’t trust doctors (unless they are Michael Rennie), as they always turn out evil. Dr. Hartz from The Lady Vanishes (1938), Dr. Hollingshead from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), Dr. Einstein from Arsenic and Old Lace (1944),  Dr. Arthur Carrington from The Thing From Another World (1951), and that’s just to name a few.

No thank you

Anyways, so the Dr. Brandon has no intention of helping Tony out. Instead he wants to experiment on him, testing out this serum he created to bring out people’s primitive instincts. His assistant tries to convince him not to, but Dr. Brandon won’t listen.

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

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

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

you're evil

That night the teens all go hangout at a party. One of the guys, Frank, is killed while he is walking home from the party.

Victim #1

Victim #1

The next day the police are studying the scene and trying to figure out what could have done this. The police station’s janitor, an emigrant from the Carpathian Mountains, looks at the photos and determines that it was a werewolf that did it. In his hometown “human beings possessed by wolves” are common, so he declares that nothing else could have killed the boy.

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The next day, Tony goes back for a second session in which he tells the doctor that he feels like something is wrong with him. The doctor brushes it off and Tony continues on his way. That day his principal calls him into her office and tells him how happy she is with the improvement. She is going to recommend him entry to the State University.

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I know this won’t end well

It really gets me because he is so hopeful and sweet, yet you know, you know nothing will end well.

ouch Hermione

So Tony is happy, now that he has a future and a ticket to be something. As he walks to class the bell rings, triggering his transformation.

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And he attacks Theresa, his classmate, who is practicing nearby.

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Victim #2

Victim #2

Tony flees for his life, and even though he looks wolfish, people recognize him and put out an APB. A reporter goes to his father and girlfriend to find out more about him and get a scoop. Meanwhile, the police follow Tony, siccing dogs after him, but Tony takes them down.

I was a teenage werewolf

In the morning, Tony wakes up in his true form. He tries to talk to Arlene but can’t get anywhere with her as she is too freaked. He then runs down to Dr. Brandon’s office to get his help.  Dr. Brandon lies to Tony, telling him he will help him but in reality injects him with the serum. Tony starts to transform when the phone rings and it causes Tony to go berserk, attacking the Dr. and assistant. Right then the police charge in and take Tony out (even though they don’t use silver bullets. Although they don’t need to as he isn’t a true werewolf but a manmade one). When they do so, Tony returns. But dead.

Doesn’t it just get you in the feels?

right in the feels broken heart

It’s just so sad. He wanted the help, he wanted to be better; but just went to the wrong person and everything in his life went downhill.

aw cry

This was one of the films created by studios to branch into the teenage crowd. They would do “Creature Double Features” at movie theaters (as shown in The Blob) and drive ins. They were usually short films and teenagers were the focal characters as that was who they were trying to appeal to. Other films were The Blob (1958), Invasion of the Saucer MenI Was a Teenage FrankensteinBlood of DraculaHow to Make a MonsterVillage of the Giantsetc. 

Here is a facebook cover I made one year, as part of my countdown to Halloween

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To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart

For the previous post, go to Let Them Fight

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For more on werewolves, go to A Monster Race

For more mad scientists, go to In Their Proper Place

For more remakes given a teenage twist, go to You’re Just Too Good To Be True

It’s Alive, it’s ALIVE!: Frankenstein (1931)

Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive… It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!

What horror movie countdown would be complete without the film Frankenstein

Frankenstein is an amazing film that tells the story of when one man tries to be more than he is; he tries to be God. It is based on the novel, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley (FYI: A much better writer than her husband)

Edward Van Sloan: How do you do? Mr. Carl Laemmle feels it would be a little unkind to present this picture without just a word of friendly warning. We’re about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation: life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now is your chance to, uh… Well, we’ve warned you. 

I have always loved this film, but I think The Bride of Frankenstein is much better. I will get more into why that is later.

This movie is terrifying as we see a Frankenstein becomes consumed with creating this being. He won’t listen to anyone else and his behavior frightening his friends, family, and fiancé.

Henry Frankenstein: Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not.

Let me just clarify for everyone out there that the name Frankenstein alludes to Victor Frankenstein, the mad doctor who creates the Monster. For some reason they changed his name to Henry in this film. In the film his best friend’s name is Victor, while in the book it is Henry. Go figure. The Monster is never called by a name other than Monster, Creature, or something similar. It’s like  The Creature from the Black Lagoon or The Thing from Another World, no proper names are given.

Anyways, he is helped out by a hunchback named Fritz

Not Igor, FRITZ!

The hunchback named Igor who helps mad scientists isn’t from the original Frankenstein, but comes from one of the sequels, Son of Frankenstein, where his name was Ygor; later translated to Igor.

Anyways, Fritz is the one who makes the mistake of stealing the criminal brain.

My Bad

 

So Frankenstein starts getting ready to bring his monster to life. In the novel, Shelley never tells us how it is done; Frankenstein never wanted to share the details of the experiment for fear that someone would create their own living dead. With nothing to go off of, the writers and directors decided to use lightening, and therefore changeing film culture and film history as this is referenced and parodied in so many films and TV shows.

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“Henry Frankenstein: Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive… It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!
Victor Moritz: Henry – In the name of God!
Henry Frankenstein: Oh, in the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!”

Frankenstein is so intent on proving everyone wrong, so focused on completing everything that he never stops to think whether he should do this. This is an interesting question posed; how far is too far?

So Frankenstein is able to create his monster:

Played by the very amazing Boris Karloff; extraordinary actor. He almost didn’t play this part as they originally offered it to Bela Lugosi who turned it down. I’m glad it was Karloff, because as much as I love Lugosi, no one could have done this better.

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The green makeup that is such a part of the Frankenstein figure was used because it gave Karloff a deadlike pallor of skin. Now it has become such a strong part of culture, we see the green-skinned, bolted monster every October.

After the Monster is created, we see this innocentlike creature. He is afraid of fire and tries to attack Fritz who brings a torch by him. All bystanders fear for their lives and chain the Creature up in the dungeon. Frankenstein and his friend Victor leave and discuss the best way to euthanize him. Unbeknownst to them Fritz is stupidly taunting the creature with a torch; causing the Monster to reach out and kill him.

When Victor and Frankenstein return; they see Fritz’s dead body on the floor, and have to run away from the Monster as it tries to attack them too. Frankenstein prepares a shot to kill him, and Victor gives it him. With all his problems solved, Frankenstein leaves to prepare for his wedding, and Victor begins to dissect the Creature. Unfortunately, the Monster didn’t die; but was only knocked out. He kills Victor and then escapes, running amuck in the countryside.

He runs into a little girl, who is nice and shows him the flowers she is picking up.

She shows him how flowers float in the river, which Frankenstein ultimately does to the little girl. Thinking that if he tosses the girl in the water she will float; he ends up ultimately drowning her.

Little Maria: See how mine floats.
[the Monster picks her up]
Little Maria: No, you’re hurting me! No!”

The farmer finds his daughter’s floating corpse and goes to pieces. He starts hunting down the monster; searching everywhere to find the fiend.

Frankenstein, happily preapering for his wedding is brought news of Victor’s death. He goes out searching for the monster along with the peasants who have their torches and pitchforks at the ready.

Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!

Eventually Frankenstein tracks the monster down and is prepared to destroy him.

However the Monster knocks him out and carries him off to the windmill where he throws him off. Luckily, Frankenstein is caught by a vane and saved from death. There some peasants carry him home while others destroy the mill and kill the monster. Or do they?

Frankenstein gets home, where we see that he is safe and sound and in the arms of his Elizabeth dear.

After I watched the film a gazillion times, I read the novel and found it to be much more horrifying than the movie. In the book Frankenstein isn’t this bumbling creature, completely innocent and doesn’t understand things; but a criminal mastermind. Having learned to read and talk before he died; he is able to after some time remember how to do this and begins becoming more “human”. The one thing that he never regains is compassion, kindness, etc; all the caring emotions that make us who we are. He has no empathy or sympathy, believing that he was shown nothing but hatred and cruelty so he must show this to all.

wouttruth

What they take from this and use in the sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein, is his want of a mate; his desire to have one like him to spend his life with. He threatens to destroy everyone that Frankenstein holds dear if he does give in to his demands. Frankenstein goes through a constant struggle with himself; knowing that he cannot risk creating another creature being made and mating along with the first. He realizes his mistakes at creating such a thing far too late. The monster doesn’t like hearing no and kills all Frankenstein loves. There is no sweet guy, accidentally killing someone like Lenny in Of Mice and Men, but this is a true psychopath fully aware of the crimes he is committing. Not only is the creature a serial killer, but he has become so intelligent that he is able to plant evidence so that people think someone else is the murderer. He kills Frankenstein’s brother William, and plants a locket on William’s nanny so that she is also killed. Then he kills Henry, Frankenstein’s friend, planting evidence so Frankenstein is arrested. He also kills Elizabeth, Frankenstein’s wife, making it seem once again that Frankenstein is the killer. With all those that he loves dead, Baron Frankenstein dies as well.   After everything is gone from him; Frankenstein devotes his life to hunting down what he created and destroying it.

It’s a great book, I suggest reading it and watching the film.

There’s a classic terror for your Tuesday! More to come!

I almost forgot to mention this. Unlike The Mummy, Dracula, or The Wolfman; Frankenstein has never had a major motion, globally shown, sent to all theaters, remake. However that is all about to change as Guillermo del Toro is planning one, and hoping that it will be coming out soon. To read more up on it go here. We shall have to wait and see what happens and how it turns out.

Here’s poster I made for my cover page on facebook in honor or Halloween. Hope ya love it.

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To start Horrorfest from the beginning, go to I Don’t Belong in the World

For the previous post, go to When Potatoes Go Bad

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For more on Frankenstein, go to A Monster Race

For more on Boris Karloff, go to Eternal Punishment for Anyone Who Opens This Casket

For more films based on books, go to The Only Thing That Matters is the Ending

For more on Jurassic Park, go to Life Finds a Way

For more on the living dead, go to A Tale So Strange It Must Be True

For more on mad scientists, go to A Very Scary Story

For more universal films, go to Universal’s Classic Monster Movies

For more of my fav quotes, go to Insults