Werewolves are folkloric beings that appear human however has the ability to transform into a wolf-hybrid creature; in some folklores the being is able to control their transformation and in others they are cursed and so unable to control their transformations usually triggered by some sort of variable. Typically considered to antagonists in most folklores and early film werewolves were known to prey on the weak and vulnerable just like Count Dracula and vampires although their physical characteristics are not similar. In the 1957 film I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Tony a high school student was experimented on and becomes a werewolf; unable to control his transformations and urges to kill wreaks havoc in his town. This film depicts the theme of anxieties and vulnerabilities of growing up through the adolescent stage.

In the film, Tony Rivers, a teenage boy with anger management and he tends to get into fights with his classmates. After one brawl at the school the police are called to break up the fight and Detective Donovan suggests to Tony to see a psychologist specializing in hypnotherapy, Dr. Alfred Brandon. Tony declines even though his family and friends are concerned about his violent behavior however he decides to go on his own after seeing the expressions of his peers for losing it and assaulting one of his friends for surprising him at a Halloween party. Dr. Brandon however has no intention of helping Tony out with his anger issues but instead using Tony as an experiment for his scopolamine serums regressing Tony’s personality to trigger his primal instincts believing this to be the future for mankind. After Tony drives his girlfriend home, it is shown that Frank was attacked and killed on his walk home through the woods. The detective and chief of police discuss the photos of the body and conclude that the wounds maybe consistent with fangs however decide to cover up the crime until they figure out what the culprit really is. The officer showing the pictures to the detective and chief also allows the janitor to see the images to which he believes to be the work of a werewolf. Tony being concerned about his well-being goes back to Dr. Brandon revealing that he believes there to be something very wrong with him to which the doctor says that he has already given Tony’s Principal a positive report. The principal tells Tony that her response to his positive report was that she intends to recommend Tony for entry to college. Tony walks by the gymnasium after his meeting and while glaring at a gymnast practicing alone the bell rings alarming Tony and triggering his transformation to a werewolf. He kills the girl just as responders to her scream arrive at the scene to see the beast. The witnesses identified him by his clothing and police issue a bulletin for his arrest; realizing what he has become he decides to hide. Tony wakes up in the morning and sees that he has changed into his human form goes to see Dr. Brandon begging him to help him. Dr. Brandon tells him he will help but injects him with more of the serum so he can witness the transformation and film it. The phone rings, alerting Tony in his wolf man form triggering his instincts to kill. The police arrive and end up shooting him, once he dies he reverted back to his human form forcing the detective to assume the doctor’s involvement.

The film I Was a Teenage Werewolf reveals a theme of anxieties and vulnerabilities of teenagers growing up. Tony, because of his peer’s reaction to his violent abilities became insecure about his identity, causing him to seek help in order to change it. The adolescent mind is a complex thing but acceptance is huge factor in growing up in a positive environment and while in this vulnerable state Tony became prey to Dr. Brandon looking for a guinea pig for his experiment. Tony growing up without his mother is also a factor for his violent behavior even while having a girlfriend because he still did not have a mother figure to calm down his violent tendencies. Growing up during the adolescent stage can be very difficult for a teenager because of the concept to wanting to belong which is what Tony tried to seek help for but not only does he not receive the help he needs, he turns into a werewolf that terrorizes the town. This causes him to feel even more isolated than he already had. Teenagers go through a lot of stress with wanting to have friends and creating a perfect social image of themselves but should society reject them that can turn their whole world around. In Tony’s case he became weak and vulnerable not realizing he was being taken advantage of. He also was so concerned with getting help that it impairs his judgement of who are the right people to seek help from. Just as werewolves prey on the weak and vulnerable correlates with how the doctor takes advantage of Tony like a predator. This is the weakness of being an adolescent, not understanding the world around them, and being confused and vulnerable. Even though he did kill those people viewers of the film have pity for Tony because the situation was out of his control due to being indirectly manipulated.

Course Material:

-I Was a Teenage Werewolf



            -Teenage werewolf broadcast

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