Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Countdown to Halloween 2015 - Counting Down the Monsters #6 - Teenage Werewolf

Speaking of werewolves . . . man, do I wish I Was a Teenage Werewolf (dir. Gene Fowler, Jr.) was available on DVD. I used to own it on videotape YEARS ago, and I watched it a LOT. When I first discovered it, I found it endlessly amusing that the "Little House on the Prairie"/"Highway to Heaven" guy was in a monster movie.

Image from eBay
How did I first discover the film? Junior high school. For some reason or other, on Halloween, my 7th grade science teacher brought in the taped-from-television "Highway to Heaven" episode I Was a Middle Aged Werewolf (dir. Michael Landon) for us to watch. (He also once brought in a recorded episode of the game show Joker's Wild featuring him as a contestant. I'm not sure what any of that had to do with science. That science teacher would also go on to become mayor of Cheyenne, WY.)

I eventually got my hands on the VHS release of the movie, along with I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (dir. Herbert L. Strock) and How to Make a Monster (also dir. Herbert L. Strock) at the local mall's Musicland store. Of the three, I found myself loving the two Teenage... movies the most. (I do wish Landon would have returned for How to Make a Monster.)

Before launching Monster Kid Radio, I appeared as a guest on the B-Movie Cast to talk about the two I Was a Teenage... films with Vince and the gang. Since then, I honestly don't know if I've sat down to watch the movie from start-to-finish (see Counting Down the Monsters #3). That said, I still can recall the story beats, the performance that made Whit Bissell one of my favorite actors from this era, and even that musical number. The image of Michael Landon grabbing his head when he hears the bell ringing is iconic, and the werewolf design is solid (and really does deserve more respect, even if the Alka Seltzer-like drool is a LITTLE over the top). Even just typing this, I'm remembering the scene in the high school gym and the camera shot that was shot upside down. This film has stuck with me for years.

My favorite memory of watching the film comes from my film school days. One Halloween day/night, my friend Matt came over to my dorm room, and we made our way through a marathon of monster movies. We started the evening with my VHS copy of "The Muppet Show - Monster Laughs with Vincent Price," and made our way through a handful of movies before we eventually called it a night/early morning. I Was a Teenage Werewolf was one of the movies in the mix, and since Matt and I were both film students and thought we'd be filmmakers when we grew up, we started talking about what a potential remake would be like. We decided we'd want a female lead, and for some reason, Anna Chlumsky was who we wanted. These days, I wouldn't want to see this film remade. I'd just settle for an official DVD or blu-ray release.

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