The hit song, “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” by The Cramps, is based off the movie “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” directed by Gene Fowler Jr. The song is told through the point of view of Tony as he goes through his grueling transformation into a werewolf. Throughout the song, the singer uses the phrase “No one could make me stop” to emphasize the lack of control Tony feels towards being a werewolf. Tony’s feelings are also reflected in the movie when he visits the doctor and begs him to fix his condition (1:10:45).
At the beginning of the song, the singer describes how Tony feels like he has two different minds. One being his normal/human thoughts and the other being the wild/ferocious werewolf thoughts. He continuous and says that when there is a full moon, the werewolf part of him is too strong to fight and as a result he “had to blow [his] top” and that no one could stop him.
Near the end of the song, the singer describes how Tony was a monster of the highest grade. This phrase is a double meaning because werewolves are known to be a top predator. They hunt and kill anything that lives. This phrase also references the fact that Tony is a senor and therefore, the highest grade of student in high school. The following verse describes how teachers thought his pain was the result of him going through growing pains. This demonstrates how misunderstood Tony was in the film and how no one believed in werewolves until it was too late. Resulting in the death of two people.
I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Dir. Gene Fowler. Perf. Michael Landon and Yvonne Lime. N.p., n.d.
I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Perf. The Cramps. N.d. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=1vzkYARhWjw>.
The Cramps Edit
The Cramps were a punk rock and rockabilly band formed in 1976. They were one of the original members
of the CGBD punk movement in New York City (named after the influential punk club). The band was known for its campy aesthetic derived from the monster horror films of the 1950s. The band was formed by husband and wife duo Lux Interior and Poison Ivy, as well as Kid Congo Powers (of The Gun Club fame).
The band is credited for pioneering the genre of “psychobilly”. Psychobilly takes the mixes the style of 1970s punk rock with 1950s rockabilly and horror/science fiction. Psychobilly is also characterized by a fascination with macabre and sexual taboo.
In the song “I Was A Teenage Werewolf”, The Cramps explore the idea of adolescent sexuality through the lens of Gene Fowler Jr.’s movie of the same name. The song discusses the repression of the sexual desires that come with adolescence. This is apparent through the lines “A teenage werewolf. Parallel bars. A teenage girlfriend. Got a lot of scars”. In these lines we see the violent effects of the narrator’s sexual desire. This culminates to the final line, in which he pleads for the listener to “...please make me stop”.
A common motif in the song is the physical pains of growing. These are used to represent the anxiety and fearfulness of growing. Similar to the transition from human to beast, the narrator of the story is feeling the uncomfortable sensation of growing into his adult form. This is expressed through the lines “I was a teenage werewolf. Braces on my fangs. All my teeth were so long.”, as “All my teachers thought it was growing pains.” The mention of fangs works twofold. Firstly, it alludes to teething (the uncomfortableness of growing teeth that is often remedied by biting things). Secondly, the braces reference a common American milestone from adolescence into adulthood.
Werewolves and Developement Edit
The song, "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" by The Cramps, conveys the evolution of the main character from the film, "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" , in the first person. The performance of this song makes the monsterous theme much more vivid as the lead singer physically "transforms" himself into the beast; performing the transformation himself. Considering the film's commentary on developing sexuality, this performance remains consistant as the lead singer is half naked and carries a penetrating look of lust and menacing drive throughout the performance. In the film, this character struggles with growing into his own body and finding control in all of the emotional and phsyical changes he is rapidly developing. This struggle of "holding back the beast" touches on the idea of an uncontrollable sexual and testerone enduced drive that has been associated with Werewolf lore since its creation.
While the Werewolf in the film is "no werewolf in the conventional sense" Classic Horror, it begs the question: "what is a werewolf/what does it signify". Considering "Little Red Riding Hood" , the main character is essentially coerced into stripping naked and getting into bed with a monsterous and lustful figure. Some versions of the tale record a sort of "strip tease" being performed for the werewolf in an attempt to bargain for her life Deeper Look . A continuous trend begins to arise as more lore is visited displaying reocurring sexual analogy and pubescent commentary. While the film seems to directly suggest a dramaticized comparison to a boy currently entering puberty, the history of Werewolf lore similarly, and consistantly, consists of sexual developement and even violence.
In considering these things, watching the linked performance of "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" becomes more interesting. The disturbing and discomforting movements and expressions of the lead performer become more meaningful when considering the wider scope of the lore and stories behind it. Perhaps the "Werewolf" will continue to be a monsterous figure of everchanging social purpose so long as sexuality remains a topic of concern.