Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

All Hallows' Month: I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)

Cheesy by today's standards, I Was a Teenage Werewolf is one of those fifties B-movies I've always loved.  Starring future acting icon Michael Landon in his adolescent years, I Was a Teenage Werewolf might as well be considered one of the first rock 'n roll horror films. 

Arriving at the height of rock 'n roll's eruption into pop culture, the youth of that era was stereotyped by leather jackets, slicked-down ducks' ass hairdos, denim, chiffons and missile-tit bras, all of which you can find in this flick.  Teen angst, unchained by the rebellious insurrection from Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry was not only reflected by the music of its time, but in film.  Blackboard Jungle, The Wild One and Rebel Without a Cause are not only hallmarks of fifties cinema, but also earmarks of the pulse emanating from American youth of the decade.

I Was a Teenage Werewolf doesn't exactly stand up to the aforementioned masterpieces.  However, Michael Landon captured the chip on the shoulder dynamic of his peers in this film nearly as well as Brando and Dean, which is why I Was a Teenage Werewolf works as well as it does.  The title is pure schlock and the premise is on the hokey side, yet Gene Fowler, Jr. knew what resonated with the drive-in crowd that was, more often than not, getting it on in the back seat or socializing at the concession stand instead of watching the films.

Instead of taking a bite from a lycanthrope in this film, the perpetually pissed and violent Tony Rivers becomes the subject study for an unscrupulous doctor (Whit Bissell) who hypnotizes him to research regressive degeneration.  Of course, this digresses to the nth as Dr. Brandon triggers a werewolf state from Tony.

Thus sets Michael Landon on the prowl to become even more of a public nuisance than in his normal human state.  In many ways, the hairball makeup cast around Tony Rivers' jeans and baseball jacket and button down shirt is just plain goofy, which has drawn plenty of derision from jaded viewers.  Nonetheless, there's something raw behind Tony Rivers' transformation and rampage that resonates, considering Landon portrays his character's insurgency and backlash against his peers still with enough sympathy to care about his ultimate fate. 

Featuring a cameo from Guy Williams (Zorro), I Was a Teenage Werewolf is a fast-moving and short-running fix of nonsensical terror that you may have to be a connoisseur of black and white films or Little House On the Prairie fan to fully appreciate.  If that doesn't appeal to you, Landon's furious portrayal at least speaks to generations beyond those who flicked blades and survived deadly chickeeruns.

                       Listenin' to:  Earth - Primitive and Deadly

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