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I Was A Teenage Werewolf

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Horror film I Was a Teenage Werewolf, was filmed in 1957 and directed by Gene Fowler Jr. It is one of the most well-known werewolf movies of this generation.

Plot Edit

At Rockdale High, there is a troublesome teen named Tony Rivers. Everyone at school thinks of him as an aggressive and short-tempered man. The movie begins with him in a fight at school with another boy named Jimmy[1]. The police interject, and Officer Donovan complains how he has stopped so many of Tony's fights recently. He recommends that Tony should see a psychologist named Dr. Alfred Brandon, who practices in hypnotherapy. Tony does not like the idea, and shuts him down. However, Arlene, Tony's girlfriend, tells him to think about it for she is worried about his violent tendencies. He goes home to his father, who tells Tony that he needs to listen to Donovan and stop being stubborn.

TeenWolf2

Tony Rivers

A Halloween party was thrown at a haunted house that Tony found. During the party, Vic sings a song called, "Eeny Meeny Miney Moe" to entertain the guests. After Tony plays a prank on Vic, Vic tries to get Tony back by scaring him with a horn. However, it takes a violent turn when Tony starts attacking him from being scared. Everyone at the party looks at Tony like he is an outsider, like Buffy[2] after she burned her school gymnasium down to the ground.

Tony decides to see Dr. Brandon after the incident. Once Brandon does all of the physical and mental examinations, he believes that Tony would be the best subject for a new serum that he has been working on, which will bring out the primitive instincts that Brandon believes Tony has. Brandon believes that mankind needs to return to the primitive beings they once were, reversing the idea of evolution that Darwin explained.

A killing was reported to the police, and the victim was a student named Frank. The police saw the photos and did not know what to think of it. However, Pepi, the janitor, saw the photos and told the police that Frank was killed by a werewolf.

The principal asked to see Tony, and instead of being scolded, he was actually told by her that his conduct has improved and he has shown good behavior. As a reward, she will recommend him for acceptance in State College. After receiving the news, he leaves the office and is leaving the building. On the way, he passes the gymnasium, where his classmate Theresea is training for a gymnastics meet. The school bell rings, which triggers him to transform to his werewolf state and kill her. He flees to the woods and hides as the police are looking to arrest him.

Once Tony wakes back up as a human, he goes to see Brandon and looks for aid. Brandon wants to see Tony as a werewolf, so he injects Tony with the serum again. He transforms, but then a telephone ring causes Tony to go crazy again, and he kills the doctor and his assistant. The police were noticed of Tony's whereabouts, and go and find him. They shoot and kill Tony, and Tony slowly returns back to his human self as he dies.

Victorian Ideas on Female Roles Edit

Victorian ideas push the thought of how a female was supposed to act during the 19th century. Under the article of “Victorian Sexualities” by Holly Furneaux, he ideal female was called “Angel in the House”, a term which laid out a model of the domestic goddess, who retained her chastity even as wife and mother[3]. Most of the female characters in the movie emitted a purer heart vs. the men. Example of this would be the scene where Tony and Arlene arrive to the first party and the boys kept pulling pranks leaving the females to be the receiving end. Although most of the females in the movie display nothing but purity and class, the movie also hints Victorian’s idea of sexual repression on the female roles. During the same first party both Arlene and Tony arrived, there was a random scene that was focus on of two teenagers making out, which later the girl stood up immediately only to slap the male partner and walk away. This displayed the urges of the girl but the image she had to maintain during the era.

                In the movie, there were plenty scenes where Tony needed guidance. All of which,involved a female character pushing Tony to better himself. In the article “Gender roles in the 19th century” by Kathryn Hughes, there exist two types of spheres for each sex[4]. One being the public sphere which is physical power for men, and the other being the domestic sphere, which involves morality for the female. Principle Ferguson and Arlene tried their best to guide Tony in the right direction but people like Dr. Brandon has caused too much corruption to Tony for him to be saved. Tony lost his mother and was left with only him and his father. This is a hint that Tony has lost one of his biggest guidance towards understanding right from wrong. The unbalance caused Tony to weigh in on his public sphere, depending only on his anger side which led to many issues such as fighting at parties, fighting with teammates, and even raising voices against Arlene. 

Characters Edit

  • Tony Rivers[5]: Tony is the main character in this movie and his journey to becoming a werewolf is the plot of this movie. Tony is a high school boy, who has had a history of aggression and violence. The first scene in the movie involves Tony and another classmate, Jimmy, in a fight. Other students in the school are circling around the fight and cheering them on, when the cops show up and break up the fight. Tony's girlfriend's family became concerned that Tony is not worthy of seeing their daughter, so that affected Tony and made him want to be better. Tony is then raising concerns among his friends and family, and is convinced to see a therapist to discuss his aggression. He eventually agrees to seeing a psychologist, and is then given a shot that is supposedly going to make him more "primitive". The doctor claimed that through hypnosis, he would be able to channel back to his animal-self and is more savage. He did notice some changes in him that he was getting concerned about. He did not realize he had become a werewolf until he was at school, and the bell triggered him, and he transformed and killed a gymnast that he goes to school with[6]. Although he was a werewolf, he was still identified because of the clothing that he was wearing. This sparked a huge controversy and many news stations and the school paper were covering this story of a werewolf. This caused Tony to hide in the woods. While he was watching his town search for him, a dog had tried to attack him, but Tony ended up killing the dog. The dead dog was found the next morning, so the search party used it as a hint as to where Tony may be. When Tony woke up that morning, he was back in human form, so he sought his doctor for help and healing. The doctor wanted to witness the transformation to keep as evidence[7], but a ringing from a phone triggered Tony to transform again. Tony ended up killing Brandon. Officers find Tony and kill him by shooting him and he slowly returns back to his human form.
  • Dr. Alfred Brandon (Whit Bissell)[8]: After Tony’s first confrontation at the start of the movie Detective Donovan recommends Tony go and see Doctor Brandon. Dr. Brandon is a prominent doctor , that is a consulting psychologist, located at the aircraft plant. After Tony accidentally hurts Arlene, Tony decides to go and visit Dr. Brandon, where Tony is very pessimistic about the results Dr. Brandon will produce. Dr. Brandon is a psychiatrist that specializes in hypnotizing his patients. After sedating Tony, Dr. Brandon instructs his assistant to “... prepare the scopolamine!” Dr. Brandon, is a mad scientist of sorts, as he decides to use Tony as the first test, for his serum. Dr. Brandon believed that because of Tony’s mental instability and, signs on Tony’s body that he is perfect. Dr. Brandon also doesn't value Tony’s life, as he isn’t concerned how Tony will react, but how his serum will do, and how it could be an scientific advance. In the first session, Dr. Brandon pushes Tony back to
    I Was A Teenage Werewolf Whit Cig

    Dr. Brandon

    his childhood, and then in the second session to when humankind were werewolves. Dr. Brandon continues to inject Tony with the serum even after his assistant, Hugo, again tries to have Dr. Brandon reconsider. Later on Dr. Brandon calls Principal Ferguson, letting her know how far Tony has progressed, and improved. Tony is triggered by a school bell, murdering a girl in the school gym and being scene by Principal Ferguson, where he runs off. Detective Donovan immediately goes to Dr. Brandon’s office asking if Tony could’ve turned into a werewolf. Dr. Brandon, does not come forth with any relevant information, dismissing that werewolves are real. Tony ends up returning to Dr. Brandon's office stating he knows what the doctor did to him and pleading for Dr. Brandon to fix him. Dr. Brandon gets his serum and injects him once again, making Hugo record Tony’s transformation. Dr. Brandon’s phone rings, and Tony is triggered, murdering Hugo, and finally chasing Dr. Brandon around and mauling him. Dr. Brandon took advantage of Tony, and his insecurities. Dr. Brandon is similar to the werewolf both in the Charles Perrault’s ‘Little Red Riding Hood’[9] and ‘The Werewolf’s Daughter,’[10] as in both stories they take advantage of people, similar to Tony.
  • Arlene Marshall:  (Yvonne Lime ) Arlene plays the role of Tony’s girlfriend in the film I Was A Teenage Werewolf. Arlene is persuasive and headstrong and although Tony has violent tendencies she is able to tell him what she thinks and even convince him to think about seeing Dr. Alfred Brandon (http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0053088/?ref_=tt_cl_t3). Arlene’s connection and love for Tony ultimately leads to her being attacked and mutilated by him in his werewolf form. Arlene (http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0053087/?ref_=tt_cl_t2) plays an extremely key role in the film, that may be missed at first due to its subtle nature but once Arlene is examined it is clearly seen that she is a crucial player in Tony’s werewolf transformation and ultimately Tony’s untimely death. Since Arlene is ultimately the person who convinces Tony to see the hypnotherapist (http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/hypnotherapy) Dr. Alfred Brandon due to her persuasion she is ultimately the person who played the second most crucial role next to Dr. Alfred Brandon in Tony becoming a werewolf. Arlene completely accidentally put the pieces in place that lead to Tony’s transformation but she was the one who was able to get Tony to go to Dr. Alfred Brandon, who then led Tony to become a werewolf, which then ultimately lead to Tony’s death.

Dr. Brandon: It’s very obvious throughout the film that Dr. Brandon is only concerned with himself. When the audience first meets Dr. Brandon, his selfish personality takes over and he worries about his own work instead of trying to help Tony. His newest invention is a scopolamine serum that he injects into Tony which turns out to be successful. Whenever Tony hears some type of bell or ringing sound, he immediately turns into a werewolf and freaks out like a bat out of Hell. He uses his anger to unintentionally hurt and even kill whomever is nearby. Brandon’s assistant, Dr. Hugo Wagner, argues against his experiment because he believes it has the possibility to kill Tony. Of course, Dr. Brandon ignores his request and continues with the “treatment”.

Once again, Dr. Brandon’s self-centeredness comes into play when Tony goes back and practically begs for help. Curious with the success of his experiment, Brandon informs Tony that he will only help him if he witnesses the transformation. He also makes Tony promise that he can record the transformation on film to help him further his career.  With Tony being in such a terrible state of mind, he agrees and Dr. Brandon gets what he wants, like he always does. Unfortunately for Dr. Brandon, the telephone beings to ring and Tony mauls Dr. Brandon and his assistant. He also ends up ruining the film during this violent episode. It’s safe to say that Dr. Brandon deserved his fate.

It’s interesting to think about what would have happened to Tony if Dr. Brandon did the right thing and actually helped him control his anger. Obviously both of their fates would have changed. Maybe they both would have lived by the end of the movie. Of course this wouldn’t make for a very interesting or entertaining movie, but Tony deserved to live. Dr. Brandon is a crucial character in the movie I Was A Teenage Werewolf and his selfish personality greatly contributed to the plot line and Tony’s fate.

Dr. Brandon:

In the film “I Was a Teenage Werewolf”, Dr. Brandon plays a key role. He is essentially a controversial scientist under the façade of a psychiatrist. After his first evaluation of Tony, he can already tell Tony will be an excellent guinea pig. Dr. Brandon throughout the movie slowly turns Tony into a werewolf through injections and hypnosis. Ignoring his cries for help, Dr. Brandon goes deeper and deeper with his treatment. He rejects the concerns of his assistant and continues until he can turn Tony into his “true self”. Dr. Brandon believes that backwards evolution is the key to survival. Essentially his character is a psychopath who takes a boy that is struggling with fitting in with society and day to day life and turns him into a werewolf. One analysis of Dr. Brandon could show that he is backtracking society because there are these norms, these social pressures that people feel day to day. As a werewolf, if everyone were a werewolf, we could truly be our “true self”. This goes in line with the song “Lil’ Red Riding Hood”. Where the singer says, “Maybe you’ll see things my way before we get to grandma’s place”. This commentary could possibly be saying that werewolves and wolves are just misunderstood and fitting into society is hard. Humans create social anxieties and norms that animals do not. Another analysis of Dr. Brandon could show him even more wanting to “fit in” as he hypocritically creates a werewolf out of Tony. He claims that no longer will scientists mock him or ridicule his work, if he can just create this werewolf. By creating Tony as a werewolf, he is facing society’s norms and pressures just like Tony. In conclusion, Dr. Brandon is a versatile character whose actions can be interpreted through different perspectives, but in the end, it always comes back to werewolves connecting with social pressures and anxieties.

Sergeant Donovan: Barney Phillips portrays a police officer known as Sergeant Donovan. In the film I Was a Teenage Werewolf, the main character Tony struggles with his anger issues to the point where it involves police. After the fight with Jimmy, Sergeant Donovan talks to Tony to try and steer him down the right path but it is no use. Donovan suggests help from a medical professional, who goes by the name of Dr. Alfred Brandon, but this causes Tony to be even more upset. Although Donovan's advice of medical help eventually backfired, he was just trying to look out for a teenager that is in desperate need of help. Because he knows if Tony keeps up his antics he will eventually end up in prison. As word of the werewolf spreads, Donovan travels to Dr. Brandon's office for an interview. Being a police officer, Donovan is suspicious of everything, but does not fully believe the werewolf story going around town. Due to doctor-patient confidentiality, Dr. Brandon refuses to release any sensitive information that may uncover his true intentions. Although this frustrates Sergeant Donovan there is nothing he can do so he moves on in search of more clues. Following Tony's encounter with the dog, Donovan finds the body of the German Shepard in the woods. This find causes Donovan to believe that Tony is still in the woods, but they do not find him that night. At the end of the film Sergeant Donovan and Officer Stanley arrive at Dr. Brandon's office, where they encounter a fully transformed Tony and the dead doctor's body. Both officers repeatedly shoot the werewolf, killing him in a matter of seconds. The body eventually transforms back into human form with Donovan at the very end telling the audience "it's not for man to interfere in the ways of God."

Arlene Logan (Played by Yvonne Lime[11]): Arlene dated Tony during the events of the movie. She liked him despite his emotional outbursts and also the disapproval of her parents, who thought their daughter should be dating more 'respectable' kids from school. She is shown as being very supportive of Tony, even though the incidents of violence that Tony was a part of. She insisted that Tony meet her parents when he came to pick her up for a Halloween party which suggests that she was serious about wanting Tony to be a part of her life. She wasn't really as afraid of Tony and his aggression as much as she was caring and worried about him. She seconded the suggestion of Sergeant Donovan to see Doctor Brandon about his issues because she really wanted him to get better. The treatment that she heard Donovan provided, in her words, would've been "good for both of us." Even after the first murders Tony committed in his form as a werewolf, she still showed signs of care for him. This is most evident when, after being interviewed by journalist about the incident as a result of Tony's wanted status, she decided not to tell the police who was calling when, even though the police were looking for him, Tony called her the morning after a lethal werewolf episode. Arlene's good-hearted and light nature is in stark contrast to Tony's strength, violence, anger and aggression which may be rooted in the gender stereotypes and expectations of the time period of the movies theatrical release. The contrast between her and Tony exemplifies a long standing Victorian ideal that woman were expected to counteract the moral 'taint' that the men of society bore in their daily lives.[12] She can be seen as a foil to Tony; a character so kind and benevolent just to further exemplify how Tony's aggression was unacceptable to those around him. Arlene, in her grace, innocence, and demeanor, can be compared to as acting like a Victorian 'angel in the house'[13], as in, she was meant only to be in the background of Tony's actions but expected to be morally pure and counteract the moral injustices of her partner.

Historical Context Edit

The 1950s was a decade known for rebellion among the teenager population. Children for example, were expected to be well behaved, always be polite and be nicely dressed. Adults were quite strict and set in their own ways with definite views with young. When they were told to do so something, it was done in a timely manner without question to their parents. On the other hand, as the decade wore on, young people started to voice their own opinions. Bending the rules, changing to new clothing styles and listening to different types of music and this was seen rebellious to the older generations. The introduction of rock and roll music led the way for this “rebelliousness” that energized the teenager of this decade. [14]

During World War Two the word “teenager” didn't exist and the youth were expected to act as young adults. When the war ended and the baby boomers came, the roles of the teenagers changed. They attended school dances, learned new dance moves and listen to new music. For the first time many teens owned cars, started dating in massive numbers and participate in organized sports. Teens were encouraged to attend a higher education, have a successful career in something they love to do get involved in community events. This resulted in more socialization of the youth without the burden of helping the family financially. This was a big change from the pre-war ideas about young adults and often resulted in parents trying to control kids, making it easier for them to rebel. [15]

In I was a teenage werewolf  we can see the fear and anxiety of growing up with Tony as well as the rebellious nature of teenagers agains adults. When Tony is turned into a werwolf by a doctor his primal nature of a werewolf examine the themes of struggles of being a male teenager growing up in the 1950s. 

Theme Edit

In the film, “The Teenage Werewolf” by Charles Perrault, demonstrates anxiety, frustration, confusion, and responsibilities of sexuality and growing up. This story is told in the perspective of a teenage boy who faces many struggles. Tony who’s the main character struggles to be himself and especially struggles to fight the erg to fight with others. This film demonstrates how Tony really does want to make the right decisions and not wait before it’s too late to take his actions back. Being hard headed to begin with and clearly hating when others challenge him, it made his life more difficult by the day.  Being taken to see a doctor due to his aggressive actions proceeded in him to eventually getting an injection with a particular serum that ended up only heightening Tony’s aggression and later turned him into a werewolf. Werewolves, being very aggressive and dangerous in this first place, it only seemed like this character fit his actions best.

The theme of this film demonstrated the struggle of being a male teenager. Tony was facing fears and frustrations when figuring out who he is and growing into his sexuality. He is a friend with many other students who have become aware of his lash outs. His girlfriend seems be one of the few who can calm him down a bit and gets him to realize what is best. It is no secrete that he needed guidance but unfortunately the path we took to go get help seemed to make matters worse. The werewolf side of him shows lashing out ten times worse than how he acted when he wasn’t a werewolf. So much repression is represented in this film, it almost leaves the audience feeling remorse and sad for him. Tony Is unable to truly express his own character and sexuality, stemming from fear and potential consequences.

Responsibilities of Growing Up

Growing up is hard for most children and teenagers, and Tony is no exception. Adding to that, it is revealed that Tony's mother died when he was young and judging from how his father parents him, he is allowed to do as he pleases with little consequence. This plays into how Tony's behavior shifts during certain situations. He is an easily irritable person who also has a sizable friend group. A person of his habits even has a girlfriend, and many close friends. It isn't until people like Detective Donovan and Tony himself, that he realizes that his behavior during tense situations is not appropriate and he seeks help from the local therapist, Dr. Brandon. In some instances, it may be said that Detective Donovan gives better advice to Tony that Tony's own father.

Tony must face certain responsibilities and must own up to his actions. His fear to face the truth of those actions haunt him throughout the film even though he seeks to fix them. The hard truth is that if Tony would not have sought help, he may have just wound up in prison, learning his lesson, then being released to start a more idealistic lifestyle. However, through the twist of folklore Tony is put to the test unknowingly of being a human werewolf experiment. All in all, the film gives meaning to the struggles of teenagers with the addition of mystical horror and supernatural creatures. The film gives life to the responsibilities that teenagers hold as they continue through to adulthood.

References:

https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/victorian-sexualities

https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/gender-roles-in-the-19th-century

https://d2l.arizona.edu/d2l/le/content/563364/viewContent/4935312/View

https://d2l.arizona.edu/d2l/le/content/563364/viewContent/4935312/View

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Was_a_Teenage_Werewolf#Plot

http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0053088/

http://www.1000misspenthours.com/reviews/reviewsh-m/iwasateenagewerewolf.htm

https://d2l.arizona.edu/d2l/le/content/563364/viewContent/4841229/View

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m6bQfk6AXU

http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/sam_the_sham_and_the_pharaohs/lil_red_riding_hood.html

References Edit

  1. https://d2l.arizona.edu/d2l/le/content/563364/viewContent/4935312/View
  2. https://d2l.arizona.edu/d2l/le/content/563364/viewContent/4907500/View
  3. Furneaux, Holly. "Victorian Sexualities." The British Library. The British Library, 28 Mar. 2014. Web. 12 Apr. 2017. <https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/victorian-sexualities>.
  4. Hughes, Kathryn. "Gender Roles in the 19th Century." The British Library. The British Library, 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 12 Apr. 2017. <https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/gender-roles-in-the-19th-century>.
  5. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050530/synopsis?ref_=tt_ql_stry_3
  6. https://loftcinema.org/film/i-was-a-teenage-werewolf/
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Was_a_Teenage_Werewolf
  8. http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0053088/?ref_=tt_cl_t3
  9. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#perrault
  10. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/wolfdaughter.html
  11. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050530/
  12. https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/gender-roles-in-the-19th-century
  13. https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/victorian-sexualities
  14. https://crandall1950syoungculture.wordpress.com/social-life/
  15. http://www.loti.com/teenagers_youth_in_the_fifties.htm

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