‘Body of a boy! Mind of a monster! Soul of an unearthly thing!’
I Was a Teenage Frankenstein – aka Teenage Frankenstein – is a 1957 American science fiction horror film directed by Herbert L. Strock (The Crawling Hand; Blood of Dracula) from a screenplay credited to Kenneth Langtry [actually producer Herman Cohen and Aben Kandel]. It stars Whit Bissell, Phyllis Coates and Gary Conway.
The film is the follow-up to AIP’s box-office hit I Was a Teenage Werewolf released less than five months earlier by American International Pictures (AIP). Both were later referenced in How to Make a Monster, released in July 1958.
I Was a Teenage Frankenstein was filmed in black and white, with the ending in colour for a vivid effect.
Professor Frankenstein, a guest lecturer from England, talks Doctor Karlton into becoming an unwilling accomplice in his secret plan to actually assemble a human being from the parts of different cadavers.
After recovering a cadaver from a catastrophic 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…
“As in Teenage Werewolf, the monster comes to represent alienated adolescence and Whit Bissell is again cast as a calculating and manipulative scientist/authority figure. It is amusing to see that in this film Frankenstein is no longer traditionally a scientist with misguided intentions, he is utterly ruthless from the outset.” Moria
“When the monster twists off a handsome jock’s head so he can have it for his own, he carries it back to the lab in a birdcage! That’s sick, man!! Little moments like that make cinema such a viable art form. But despite this, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein is still a stupid movie, and despite its being a stupid movie, I loved every minute of it.” Movie Magazine International
“One of the mini series of teenage science fiction films that followed in the wake of I Was a Teenage Werewolf, it remains watchable because Kandel’s script, though sadly not Strock’s direction which is pedestrian, has an element of parody about it.” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror
“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.” The New York Times, January 30, 1958
” …intelligently and imaginatively done … there is enough of genuine frightfulness to satisfy and fan…” The Hollywood Reporter
“Immensely silly but enjoyable piece of hokum, with a classic title, a serious performance against the odds by Whit Bissell…” Alan Frank, The Horror Film Handbook
Professor Frankenstein:”Well, you’re being true to yourself. And your sex. You know that perfectly well science has proved that in all forms of life the female pursues the male.”
Professor Frankenstein: “I want him to know and feel pain so that when I alleviate it, he’ll also know gratitude.”
Professor Frankenstein: “Answer me! You have a civil tongue in your head! I know – I sewed it in there!”
Cast and characters:
- Whit Bissell as Professor Frankenstein (Psychic Killer; Monster on the Campus; I Was a Teenage Werewolf)
- Phyllis Coates as Margaret (Thompson’s Ghost; The Incredible Petrified World)
- Robert Burton as Doctor Karlton (The Slime People; Invasion of the Animal People)
- Gary Conway as Teenage Monster/Bob
- George Lynn as Sergeant Burns
- John Cliff as Sergeant McAfee
- Marshall Bradford as Doctor Randolph
- Claudia Bryar as Arlene’s mother
- Angela Blake as Beautiful girl
- Russ Whiteman as Doctor Elwood