I Was A Teenage Werewolf featured cinema’s first teenage monster. Werewolves have had a long, illustrious career on the big screen, with Universal’s The Wolf Man from 1941 kicking off a series of movies featuring the creature. By the time the 1980s had come around special make-up effects had evolved to the point where amazing transformations could take place onscreen. This led to famous genre movies like An American Werewolf In London, The Howling, and even Michael J. Fox’s Teen Wolf.
A mix of practical and CGI effects would bring to life the beasts found in the Underworld franchise and 2010’s The Wolfman starring Benicio del Toro. Universal had planned to reboot their iconic monsters for their shared Dark Universe. The Mummy remake from 2017 starring Tom Cruise was supposed to kick this series off in style, with Bill Condon’s Bride Of Frankenstein set to follow. Dwayne Johnson was said to be considering a Wolf Man remake, but the underperformance of The Mummy stalled those plans.
I Was A Teenage Werewolf from 1957 was produced by American International Pictures, who specialized in low-budget horror and genre movies. AIP founder Samuel Z. Arkoff pushed for the idea of a teenage monster, which hadn’t been attempted before. The film also appears to be the first to have “Teenage” as part of its title, and its success led AIP to produce I Was A Teenage Frankenstein soon after.
I Was A Teenage Werewolf stars Michael Landon as Tony, a teenager with anger management problems. He decides to go to therapy for his issues – only for his psychotherapist to inject him with a serum that will revert him to a primal form. This has the effect of transforming Tony into a werewolf and after killing several characters – including his therapist – he’s shot dead in the finale. Despite being shot on a tiny budget the film would prove to be a huge success for AIP and grossed $2 million upon release.
While it covered similar ground to The Wolf Man, the idea of a teenager becoming a monster was considered shocking back in 1957. This is one of the reasons I Was A Teenage Werewolf is still remembered today, even if it hasn’t aged very well. Jack Nicholson (Batman) was briefly considered for the lead role, but was rejected in favor of Landon; Nicholson would later play a werewolf in 1994’s Wolf. The IT novel also features the Losers’ watching I Was A Teenage Werewolf, with Pennywise later turning into the monster to chase Richie and Bill in the house on Neibolt Street.
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