Wednesday, April 25, 2018

I Was A Teenage Frankenstein

Just a few months after AIP had I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF in theaters, producer Herman Cohen (HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM) pumped out this quick follow-up. I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN isn’t a sequel, even though Whit Bissell returns from TEENAGE WEREWOLF as another mad scientist.

Bissell is actually playing Dr. Frankenstein, and he’s continuing his ancestor’s experiments in creating life from dead organs and flesh. He’s incredibly lucky. A car accident kills two teens right outside his front door, and a few days later, an entire high school track team is killed in a plane crash. The head, Frankenstein just chops off a necking boy. The body parts he doesn’t use he dumps in the alligator pit beneath his suburban mansion. His needy fiance Phyllis Coates (SUPERMAN AND THE MOLE MEN) eventually discovers the hunky young monster (ripped Gary Conway, later to star in BURKE’S LAW and LAND OF THE GIANTS) hidden in the laboratory.

Whereas Michael Landon’s teen werewolf was a strong character and protagonist, Conway’s Frankenstein monster is a wooden cipher buried beneath Phillip Scheer’s comical makeup. Bissell’s arrogant performance gives TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN most of its entertainment value, making the most of writers Cohen and Aben Kandel’s ripe dialogue (“You have a civil tongue in your head. I know you have, I sewed it back myself.”). Unlike TEENAGE WEREWOLF, this film is pure schlock (Bissell, playing a Brit, makes no effort at an accent).

Director Herbert L. Strock shot the film at Ziv Studios, where he also made television shows like SEA HUNT, SCIENCE FICTION THEATER, and HIGHWAY PATROL in a similarly perfunctory manner. As a cool gimmick, the climax of this black-and-white film was shot in Eastmancolor. Cohen continued the unofficial AIP series with HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER, which also had a color climax.

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