This is my entry in the Spooky Classic Movie Blogathon hosted by K N Winiarski Writes
"Holy crap, Little Joe! Get a grip!"
"My God! Pa! What are you doing with that girl?"
"Jonathan, I think we need to talk...
(NOT quoted from Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven...)
Whether you were a fan of Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie or Highway to Heaven it's a sure bet you never saw Michael Landon get more than just a little out of sorts. The crystal clean image we have today, for those of us who remember him, is that Michael was an inspirational character in his three notable television series. One of his nicknames according to IMDb was "the Jesus of Malibu". Let's face it, when those of us of a certain age think of family values as presented in Hollywood, most of us likely to picture Michael Landon.
So it probably will come as a shocking surprise that Landon got his big break in Hollywood as an angst ridden teenager in a low budget horror flick called I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Or maybe it won't be a surprise... after all he was born on Halloween... (I bet I caught you off guard there... That's right. If he were still with us, Michael would be celebrating his 84th birthday today. OK, I didn't know it either until just now...) But his start in Hollywood got kicked off in high gear when he was cast as the lead in that movie.
So many people got their start in the most unlikely of places (just check out some of the big names of today who had to start their careers in low budget soft core porn...) Landon got his playing in what, in retrospect, may seem to be an odd character choice. Certainly it would if he had played him after we had gotten used to the type of characters he played in later years.
So happy birthday to Michael in the hereafter. This wasn't intended to be a birthday tribute, but it is now.
I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1957):
Tony (Michael Landon) is a typical young lad. Well typical except he seems to get into a lot of fights. And he has a hair-trigger temper. Pop a balloon behind him and you'll likely get your block knocked off for the effort. But besides that he is a good kid at heart.
At least he is until the grownups decide he needs to do something about his temper. And what do most of them suggest? Therapy. Good old Dr. Brandon (Whit Bissell) over at the local aircraft plant supposedly can do miracles with hypnotism (hypnotherapy).
But Tony is wary of hypnosis. After all, when you are hypnotized, they can make you do things that you really don't want to do. You know, like jump around like a bunny rabbit, or make a fool of yourself in front of others, or even, ye gods! like, buckle down and become a good student.
But shortly after wailing on good friend for an innocent prank at a party, Tony decides to go and see the good doctor. Except the "good" doctor is not so good as he seems. He gets the idea to use Tony s a guinea pig for his new theory in trying to get man to regress to his more primitive instincts.
Using a secret serum, Dr. Brandon gives Tony some gentle subconscious suggestions that ultimately turns him into a werewolf. Talk about baser primitive instincts! And one of the things that really sets him off (aside of his temper) is seeing a girl work out in her gymnastics outfit. That's a pretty base primitive instinct.
When Tony realizes what is happening to him, he goes back to Dr. Brandon to try to work things out, but Brandon dismisses his fears and puts him through the therapy session again. By now the whole town is on the lookout for Tony. Because they recognize the outfit the werewolf wears is the same as the one Tony wears. (I guess no one else has ever seen anyone but Tony dressed in a letterman's jacket and jeans...)
The man hunt is on for Tony after he kills a couple of people and the story is bound to not arrive at a happy ending. But it does leave us with one lesson learned: man shouldn't interfere with the realm of God. (Not to mention don't trust a psychiatrist who has his own personal laboratory in the back room).
That's it from the back seat. Drive home safely folks.