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I Was a Teenage Werewolf is a 1957 horror film starring Michael Landon as Tony Rivers. It was co-written and produced by cult film producer Herman Cohen---and was one of the most successful films released by American International Pictures [1].

Characters Edit

Tony Rivers Edit

Tony Rivers is the main character of the film. He is a troubled teenager at Rockdale High School and is known for often losing his temper and having anger issues. Tony gets into a fight with a fellow classmate and that makes the local police interfere and advice Tony to get help. He denies but later on decides to go to a hypnotherapist (Dr. Brandon) after he hit his friend. Dr. Brandon takes advantage of Tony and injects him with a serum that is supposed to make him go back to his primitive state and turns him into a werewolf. Tony is scared of himself and what he has become. He cannot control his instincts and ends up hurting people he knew [2].

This character shows how hard it is to be a teenager and that it is not easy for them to control their emotions. It also shows the violence in society and how hard it is to get rid of bad habits as you grow up. Grown ups expected Tony to be well behaved like other teenagers in his school but it was not easy for him to do that because every person faces their own issues in a different way. Tony did not want to be a werewolf, he tried to seek help from Dr. Brandon but he did not help him and Tony ended up dying soon after. The goal of this story was to scare misbehaving kids into behaving or else they would face horrible consequences later in life [3].


Werewolves are usually portrayed as evil creatures but in this film, Tony, the werewolf, was not evil. He did not want to be a werewolf and he did not know how to control his werewolf powers. Tony had many struggles, he was not like the werewolves from other folk tales, he was just a misunderstood teenager.

Dr. Brandon Edit

Dr. Alfred Brandon is the psychologist that Tony begins seeing after he comes to terms with the fact that his aggression has become a problem. Dr. Brandon decides to treat Tony with a combination of drugs and hypnosis.[1] The initial appointment seems normal enough until Dr. Brandon steps into another room away from Tony to get the medication. The viewer learns that the doctor has a secret side project he has been working on for years. He has waited several years for the right candidate to experiment on and finally he encounters the right subject for his experiment. Tony, being a healthy young man with the “proper disturbed emotional background”[2] is just what he needs. His assistant voices concerns that the Dr. Brandon could ruin Tony’s life by making him an unknowing guinea pig for his experiment. The doctor replies that Tony is already heading down a path of life that will get him thrown in jail or worse. Dr. Brandon gives Tony some relaxants and gives him the transformation drug. He then begins the hypnosis, which he continues throughout all their sessions.

Dr. Brandon’s goal is to accomplish something big in the scientific community. He wants to be the first person that transforms a human to be something more. He does not think highly of humankind today given that he is willing to sacrifice Tony. He also makes the claim: “Mankind is on the verge of destroying itself. The only hope for the human race is to hurl it back into its primitive dorm, to start all over again.”[2] This could be taken as a reference to the then recent WWII and the use of the atom bomb.[3]

While Tony the werewolf seems like the obvious choice as the monster of the film, Dr. Harbinger displays signs of being a monster. He work requires him to keep a lab stocked with all kinds of chemicals and medications that the average person has no idea how they work. It sparks unease in the viewer when he uses the medications to transform the unknowing Tony into a werewolf. Some may wonder if they should be trusting their own doctor with their health. It is the doctor's abilities to create and unleash something on people that makes him monster-like. As Jeffrey Jerome Cohen would put it, Dr. Brandon “Policies the Borders of the Possible”[4]

The "mad doctor" that creates a monster in the name of scientific advancement is a recurring theme in books and film. Another famous doctor-monster pair can be found in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein."[5]

References Edit

I was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)

Jeffery Jerome Cohen "Monster Culture (Seven Theses)"

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