The film I Was a Teenage Werewolf was made during the 1950’s and stars Michael Landon as Tony, a hormonal youth who is prone to aggressive outbursts. Because of one said outburst local law enforcement officer Det. Donovan, played by Barney Philips, intervenes and advises Tony that he should talk to a psychologist. The psychologist, played by Whit Bissell, however is not a conventional psychologist and has an experimental treatment that he uses on Tony. This experimental treatment is a serum that is supposed to “regress personalities to their primitive instincts” (I Was a Teenage Werewolf)
The serum affects Tony by intermittently and temporarily turning Tony in to a murderous werewolf. Tony’s transformation appears to be triggered by loud noises. During Tony’s first transition in to a werewolf he kills his friend Frank, played by Michael Rougas. Tony appears to be unaware of events haven taken place during his transition, but knows that something is wrong with him. He voices his concerns to doctor Brandon but the doctor simply brushes them off. After his visit with the doctor Tony visits his school principle who is very pleased with Tony because of his glowing reports from the doctor. Going as far as to say that she intends to recommend him for college. After leaving the principles office Tony’s werewolf transformation is triggered by a loud bell and he lashes out and kills a student. This murder, unlike Frank’s, has witnesses and soon a manhunt breaks out.
Tony wakes up the next day in his normal human state and seeks out Dr. Brandon for help. Dr. Brandon apparently disregards the fact that Tony has murdered two people and is more concerned about capturing Tony’s transition on tape. Dr. Brandon again administers the serum to Tony and he transforms in to a werewolf and kills the doctor and his assistant. Police are nearby when this is taking place and attempt to confront Tony. When he refuses to back down they are forced to shoot and kill him.
Not Conforming to Societal Norms
It is obvious in the film that Tony’s aggressive behavior is not considered normal for a boy his age. Tony is regarded as an at risk youth who is a trouble maker and heading down a dark path. Tony in many ways is regarded as a monster even before he becomes one. In “Monster Culture: Seven Theses” the author Jeffrey Cohen says “the monster is born only at a metaphoric crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment-of a time, a feeling, a place.” Such is the birth of our main character Tony’s monstrosity. Tony is a teenager and his body is changing in many ways, one of which is an increase in testosterone. LiveStrong a brand associated with Neil Armstrong says, “A teenager's testosterone levels are among the highest that will occur throughout a person's life”. http://www.livestrong.com/article/236521-testosterone-levels-in-teenagers/
Accompanying this change in testosterone is a change in decision making capabilities. Because of Tony’s “aggressive outbursts” he is labeled as a bad kid, when in reality lots of teenage boys go through similar if not identical transition periods in their adolescence. According to The Guardian “teenage boys have a natural tendency towards violent and aggressive behavior which may be part of being male” https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2003/aug/10/science.highereducation
That being said it is still widely considered a cause for concern when an adolescent is violent. Society is quick to judge teenagers like our main character Tony, but according to an online article, the underlying issue may “be caused by frustration due to learning disorders, emotional distress, or attention deficits” https://www.teenhelp.com/violence-anger/what-causes-teen-violence/
I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Prod. Herman Cohen. Perf. Michael Landon, Yvonne Lime, Whit Bissell. American International Pictures, 1957.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. "Monster Culture (Seven Theses)." Speaking of Monsters