Saturday, October 04, 2008

31 Days of Halloween - Day 4 - Movie 2

In "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" (1957) Michael Landon plays a smart teenager with some severe anger management issues. When he reluctantly turns to a pychiatrist, played by Whit Bissell, for help, he unwittingly puts his fate into the hands of a mad scientist who uses drugs and hypnosis to revert Landon into a murderous werewolf.

For the first half this movie is really, really good. Director Gene Fowler (who would soon direct one of my favorite monster movies of all time "I Married a Monster From Outer Space") puts his background as an editor to good use. The movie is well paced, and well acted. Landon is excellent as the troubled teen whose anger is always just boiling under the surface, and Whit Bissell, who played a lot of scientists (on both side of the sanity spectrum) in the 1950s manages to make the pseudo-scientific nonsense he spouts sound like it actually means something. Even a musical number doesn't bring the movie to a halt. What does bog this movie down is all of the police procedural that follows the werewolf's claiming a second victim. Landon is absent for much of the film from this point forward which doesn't help. The look of the werewolf is a bit goofy, and its savagery isn't much of a match for the anger its human form enacts.

Overall, its a very uneven movie, but does rise above most of the b-movies of this era that were cranked out on extremely small budgets and even smaller shooting schedules. It's definitely worth viewing.

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