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Friday, March 8, 2019

I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957)




It was only a matter of time that someone decided to use the most famous of mad scientists in a fifties movie. Considering that this is from the same studio that made I Was a Teenage Werewolf it makes total sense. Plus those loyal readers, I’m talking to both of you, you might remember the studio later reused both the mask from Werewolf and Frankenstein in another movie, How to Make a Monster (review here).

Dr. Frankenstein is researching organ transplants, or so he tells everyone that is what he is doing. Really, he is following in the footsteps of his famous ancestor and researching a way to create life out of spare body parts. When he and his assistant stumble on a car crash where one of the victims was thrown from the burning wreck, he takes the body and uses it as the basis for his monster. Repairing the damage, a leg and a couple of hands, from the remains of a high school athletes killed in another crash he finds himself with the perfect being.

Strong and fast the creature is brought to life after being assembled and learns to walk, talk, and becomes a typical rebellious teenager. Though here that ends in him “accidentally” strangling a lady! Dr. Frankenstein fixed everything but the monster’s face, which he uses to control it. Be good and get a nice new face. Things go wrong, people are tossed to the alligator in the basement, because that is a thing people had in the fifties? Nothing ends well for either the good doctor or his creation as the next generation of Frankenstein learns the lesson that you should never play God or leave a teenager unsupervised.

While I had seen I Was a Teenage Werewolf a lot over the years I’ve only seen this one a couple of times and I didn’t remember much about it. The story here is a bit thin, but the pacing is brisk and features some gruesome bits with arms and legs being removed. You even get to see some rubber appliances. For the fifties that is more explicit than you would normally expect to see. The design of the creature is goofy and not as fun as it could have been. They did a good job on the severed hands and leg, so by comparison the mask was disappointing. I did like the gag with them going shopping for a face at lover’s lane. They come back with a birdcage and when they pull back the cover you see a severed head! Really it was just the actor with his head sticking thru the table, but I liked it.

I also learned something from I Was a Teenage Frankenstein. The mad scientist/doctor Frankenstein is a jerk! When his fiancĂ© learns too much about the experiment, he doesn’t send her away. Nope he has the creature strangle her and then tosses her to the alligator in his basement. Because again that is something that houses had in the fifties? When the monster insists on a new face does he go to the morgue for spare parts like he had in the past? Nope, they just go find one that he likes and murder the dude! This brings down the heat, so Frankenstein decides to sneak his creation out of the country, but passports are difficult to get and tickets for the Queen Mary are expensive. It is way easier to kill his creation, cut it up into pieces, and ship it to England for reanimation. Seriously Frankenstein is a dick!

This is a cheesy bit of fun that I’m going to recommend. It is certainly of the “B” movie variety but delivers the goods. The next time I just want to kick back with some silly monster action this will be on the list.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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