I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957)

IWasATeenageFrankensteinPosterCould someone get Teenage Frankenstein some antiperspirant? It isn’t bad enough that he’s made out of smelly, rotted body parts, but the dude’s got Frisbees as well!

Surely if Dr. Frankenstein was smart enough to play God and get his teenage protege up and around, he could at least provide him with the most rudimentary of personal hygiene equipment. After all, you wouldn’t let your Teenage Frankenstein wipe his reanimated ass with his recently stitched on hand would you? Then how could you let him stink the joint up when he’s out strangling hussies? All the police have to do is follow the B.O. back to your secret lab!

That was the only odious thing about this one though! I Was A Teenage Frankenstein follows up I Was A Teenage Werewolf with more of what we loved from Michael Landon’s turn as the shaggy dog with a chip on his shoulder: a teenaged monster and Whit Bissell as an evil scientist.

Whit is Dr. Frankenstein, a descendant of the original Dr. Frankenstein. This modern-day version has gone into the family business of body-snatching and reanimating corpses.

He even gives lectures to his colleagues on his theories of creating life, but instead of everyone remembering that the original Frankenstein did this, they just tell this Dr. Frankenstein that he’s a silly fool and that something like that would never work. Time for me to haul out my favorite cliche: Those that forget their old horror movies are doomed to repeat them.

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Frankenstein is ready to prove these dullards wrong and as luck would have it, there’s a big wreck in front of his house just then and he manages to snag himself a dead teenager!

Just as in I Was A Teenage Werewolf, Whit Bissell is again saddled with a namby-pamby assistant who doesn’t think all this is a good idea. This movie proves though that it’s not content to just copy its predecessor, but to surpass it because he’s also saddled with a nosy fiancee!

A case could probably be made that just because Frankenstein slapped her around for getting lippy, that was no reason for her to go snooping in on his monster-making, but I think we can lay the blame squarely on Frank. You’re either going to create life from dead teenyboppers or you’re going to have a girlfriend – not both. You’re probably better off without either, but some guys have got to learn this stuff for themselves.

Things go relatively well for Frank since he catches a lucky break by having a track team from his town die in a plane crash. He gets Teenage Frankenstein up and around, sews a tongue into his ugly head, and immediately gets Teenage Frankenstein to hit the weight room. This monster is going to have the biggest guns and most chiseled pecs of them all!

Teenage Frankenstein gets bored one day and leaves the secret lab in search of some action. He’s got that monster gene so his plan is to peep gals as they lovingly brush their hair before bed.

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This inevitably leads to some screaming, some breaking through a window, and some windpipe crushing. Next thing you know the cops are sniffing around in search of hideous looking fiend. Clearly, it’s time to get Teenage Frankenstein a regular face.

But Dr. Frankenstein needs something from Teenage Frankenstein in return. You see, there’s this pesky little matter of a fiancee with a bad attitude.

You can’t really blame Teenage Frankenstein since he was desperate for a kick ass face. And you also can’t really blame Dr. Frankenstein since he’s deranged. It’s Margaret’s taste in guys named Frankenstein that’s really at fault this time around.

Besides, you don’t actually see her go into the alligator pit, you just hear a lot of screaming. It’s entirely possible that it is as Dr. Frankenstein tells his assistant and that she simply “disappeared.” It is a little hard to explain all the Margaret-smelling burps the alligators are letting rip though.

Dr. Frankenstein and his teenage buddy finally manage to steal themselves a face and what a face it is! It’s the face of Gary Conway! Impossibly square jawed with perfectly sculpted hair, it’s a definite improvement on the old rotted head he was sporting.

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Gary’s contribution to the cinema wasn’t limited to his appearance as Teenage Frankenstein here or as Teenage Frankenstein in How To Make A Monster! He was also an author, contributing to the stories and/or scripts for the seminal arm wrestling epic Over the Top as well as American Ninja 2: The Confrontation and American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt. Coolest. Career. Ever.

As is so often the case in movies such as this, our hero Teenage Frankenstein suffers a set back of sorts at the film’s conclusion. Yep, he gets himself electrocuted.

Really though, for a guy brought to life with electricity, this isn’t that big a deal. It’s a little like you or I knocking back a bottle of sleeping pills with a vodka chaser. Sure, it’ll short circuit us for awhile, but we’ll be okay in the morning.

And for anyone in need of a brain transplant who still has doubts as to the reanimated genius that is I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, as soon as Teenage Frankenstein starts to fry, the movie switches from black and white to color!

It’s a gimmick so awesome Bert I. Gordon didn’t hesitate to use it the next year in exactly the same circumstances for his War Of The Colossal Beast! And that’s just the sort of endorsement of which I Was a Teenage Frankenstein can be rightfully proud.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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