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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Tony is terminally hotheaded. We don't get to the origin of his anger -- his therapist and the moviemakers being too busy turning him into a monster -- but it's possible his mother's offscreen death has something to do with it. Most grownups, police, and parents are domineering, but the psychologist Dr. Brandon is a treacherous mad-scientist type. There's some old-fashioned sexism in the way the female characters are treated by their boyfriends.
Violence & Scariness
Youthful fistfighting. Several people, one dog, killed by the werewolf Tony (though bloodshed is discreet). A shooting.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Harmless hugging and smooching.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cigarette smoking by grownups.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that several people and a dog are killed -- non-explicitly -- and there is some in-your-face schoolyard brawling (human and werewolf). An undertone of mistrust in authority persists, with a respected therapist secretly involved in unethical human experiments that cost human lives. One can read a rape metaphor in a famous scene in which the werewolf attacks a leotard-clad "teenage" girl gymnast. Sensational as it was in 1957, this material has none of the extreme sex, gore, and nudity in later R-rated horror shows. Adult characters smoke cigarettes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The plot seems to be missing a complication or two. Once Tony becomes a werewolf, there's little for the poor guy to do but lope around wooded backyards for a while until the law catches up with him. But the brisk little B-movie works thanks in no small part to future TV star Michael Landon, who makes the short-fused Tony a non-caricatured (if very 1950s-ish) portrait of a discontented youth; the boy's not really a hoodlum but perpetually PO'd because "people bug me" and constantly in trouble.
Drawing a parallel between the wolf metamorphosis and trendy Eisenhower-era fears of juvenile delinquency and boys-gone-wild as their hormones kick in was a neat idea. Producer Herman Cohen has claimed he purposely tapped into another primal fear that young audiences have -- that when they surrender their independence and power to doctors or other adult-authority figures, they will be abused, exploited, or in this extreme case, transformed into a monster (and Cohen went on to repeat the theme in later lookalike horror flicks like I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and Blood of Dracula). Michael Landon affectionately reprised the Teenage Werewolf role (and distinctive monster makeup) in an episode of his TV series Highway to Heaven, and the werewolf makes a guest appearance in the Stephen King shocker It.
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Our Editors Recommend
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