Reader, as you may recall, I am selecting films for the Summer Camp/Kitsch Film Series by the poster alone. But how will we ever go to another studio when American International Pictures makes such fabulous posters?
The poster for I Was a Teenage Frankenstein is beyond belief.
I know they are not Universal, and do not have the same budget, but come on, what are you using– paper bags, plaster, and tempera paint? This is the most fabulously ridiculous Frankenstein Monster ever! So I sat down to a presumed evening of crappy schlock melodrama and was happily mistaken. I Was a Teenage Frankenstein is a delight!
The film’s plot focuses on Dr. Frankenstein, the doctor recreates his ancestor’s experiments with an important change: using only young body parts. His assistant Dr. Karlton asks, “where will he find the materials?” In response, the audience gets THE BEST EXAMPLE OF DEUS EX MACHINA IN THE HISTORY OF ALL CINEMA! Suddenly, we hear a screeching car crash! Dr. F and Dr. K investigate, there are two flaming cars! Nearby is a witness, it is two cars full of teenagers, and the bodies are beyond recognition, and in the bushes right over there!
The film cuts to Dr. F and Dr. K bringing a body back to the lab! Dr. Karlton asks, “what will we do with the remains?” I love Dr. Karlton, worried about logistics. Dr. F presses a button and reveals a secret panel with an alligator pond! At this point, I felt like Veruca Salt in the chocolate factory, “Daddy, I want a secret alligator pond!” Many excellent bloggers before me recapped the film– I recommend seeing the post on monstermoviemusic.blogspot.com.
According to the book Cheap Tricks and Class Acts: Special Effects, Makeup, and Stunts from the Films of the Fantastic Fifties, the makeup was actually white plasticine (modeling clay), nose putty, and mortician’s wax.
The book Earth Vs. the Sci-fi Filmmakers: 20 Interviews contains wonderful behind the scenes photographs and an interview with actor Gary Conway (The Teenage Frankenstein Monster).
In the book Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews Tom Weaver interviews Herman Cohen (the screenwriter). Cohen says both I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and its co-feature The Blood of Dracula were written and filmed in four weeks!
Let us discuss the notorious alligator! Cohen reveals the studio rented the alligator from an alligator farm in Buena Park, California. Prior to its relocation to sunny California the alligator lived in Texas. The previous owner fed seven women to this alligator! WHAT?!
This is a story worthy of a little footwork, and sure enough I found the real story. In 1938, a man by the name of Joe Ball owned an inn and bar called The Sociable Inn with an alligator pond and five alligators.
The police investigated Ball after a neighbor witnessed Ball dumping a body in the pond. The actual number of women Ball fed to his alligators is unknown. The alligators were relocated to zoos, and I guess one made it Buena Park.
Oh my god! What a creepy story!
I definitely do not want a secret alligator pond!
You can see I Was a Teenage Frankenstein here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9HXxtad4Oo.
Eegah!!, and Tabonga! “13: TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN / AIP – 1957 / Music by Paul Dunlap.” monstermoviemusic.blogspot.com. 3 Aug. 2008. Web. 4 June 2015.
Johnson, John. Cheap Tricks and Class Acts: Special Effects, Makeup, and Stunts from the Films of the Fantastic Fifties. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1996. Print.
Mayo, Mike. American Murder Criminals, Crimes, and the Media. New York: Visible Ink, 2008. Print.
Weaver, Tom. Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2003. Print.
Weaver, Tom. Earth vs. the Sci-fi Filmmakers: 20 Interviews. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2005. Print.