Saturday, September 29, 2012

I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957)

I Was a Teenage Frankenstein is a film starring Whit Bissell, Phyllis Coates and Gary Conway released by American International Pictures (AIP) in November 1957. It is the follow-up to AIP's box-office hit I Was a Teenage Werewolf released less than five months earlier. Both films were later sequelled in AIP's How to Make a Monster, released in July 1958. I Was a Teenage Frankenstein was filmed in black and white, with the ending in color for a vivid effect.

Professor Frankenstein, a guest lecturer from England, talks Dr. Karlton into becoming an unwilling accomplice in his secret plan to actually assemble a human being from the parts of different cadavers. After the recovery of a body from a dreadful automobile wreck, Professor Frankenstein takes the body to his laboratory-morgue, where in various drawers he keeps spare parts of human beings. The Professor also enlists the aid of Margaret, as his secretary to keep all callers away from the laboratory. Margaret, becoming suspicious of what is going on, decides to investigate and goes down to the morgue. She is panic-stricken by the monster who has been activated by electricity following the grafting of a new leg and arm. She dares not tell the Professor about her feelings, and keeps silent for the present. On a couple of occasions, the professor takes discarded human body parts and feeds them to an alligator locked in limited-access chamber. One night the Monster steals out of the laboratory and goes on a rampage when frightened by the sounds of street noises. He peers into a girl's room, the girl becomes hysterical and starts screaming upon sighting him, and in his attempt to silence her, he kills her in panic and flees. The next morning the hunt for the murderer is on. Margaret, angry at the Professor, tells him that she knows about the Monster is responsible for the murder. The Professor, taking no chances, has the Monster kill her and feeds her remains to a crocodile. Dr. Karlton, sent out of town, knows none of this. The Professor sends the Monster to a Lover's Lane, where he kills a teenager. The head of the teenager is successfully transplanted to the Monster. Professor Frankenstein tells Dr. Karlton of his plans to dismember his creation and ship him in various boxes to England—there to put him together again. When they strap the Monster down again, he becomes suspicious and tears loose to throw Dr. Frankenstein into the alligator pit, while Dr. Karlton runs for help. When Dr. Karlton arrives with the police, the Monster, who is maddened with fright, backs into the electrical dial board. Contact with the iron wrist bands electrocutes him, and he falls to the ground dead. Karlton tells the police that he'll never forget the way the monster's face looked after the accident, and that shot dissolves into a close up of the original mangled face.

The New York Times review said, "If you discount any immediate connection between the mass media and the temper of the culture, then the film warrants little attention ... the automaton, enacted by Gary Conway, is a teen-ager assemble[d] from the limbs of other teenagers. This is, in one sense, abhorrent. It forces one to acknowledge the impression that such films may aggravate the mass social sickness euphemistically termed "juvenile delinquency." ...In this particular film, there are graphic displays of human dismemberment. Before one such act of surgical perversion, the mad doctor'[s] assistant says, "I have no stomach for it." That would be a plausible reaction for any adult who had read the day's headlines about teen-age crime.


74 MIN

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