Tagged: sci-fi

Teenage Monster (1958)

Teenage Monster

AKA Meteor Monster/Meteor Man

So you’ve got a very limited budget and little time to produce a movie to compliment another you’ve already made in a double feature. You need the double feature or you’re not going to be able sell the other movie to cinemas and audiences that crave the perceived value of two movies for the price of one. You’ve got a problem though, your director has just got a better offer the day before principle photography was supposed to start, what’s a producer/cinematographer to do?

Well Jacques R. Marquette decided the only course of action was to become a producer/cinematographer/director and make the best of a bad situation. I mean how hard can it be, you take a sci-fi monster set it in the 1880s to pull in the Western crowd and put Teenage in the title so the kids’ll relate. Well A+ for effort Jacques.

The LOVEFiLM synopsis, continuing a trend of apathy towards the bulk of their catalogue, is misleadingly inaccurate.

After seeing a meteor crash in the desert young Charles Cannon heads out to investigate it. But he becomes exposed to the meteor’s rays and starts to age rapidly. He becomes 10 years older, becomes hairy, aggressive and psychopathic. So his mother hides him in the basement to protect him.

If Teenage Monster at all resembled the synopsis it would just be another sorry B-movie from a decade full of them, that it plays out as a Western Frankenstein with a little boy with questionable mental health in the title role makes it a more troublesome entity.

Of that description only three words are accurate he does indeed become hairy and aggressive, the rest ranges from inaccurate all the way to fictitious. What we really have is…

The little fella watches his Father die as a result the meteor strike after which his grieving Mother becomes obsessed with finding gold in her late husband’s mine. So obsessed she moves the boy into the mine stunting his intellectual growth and his developing social skills. As the years go by she even gives up cutting his hair and no one shows him how to shave so both grow out of control, combine this with a few serious growth spurts and you’ve got yourself a monster. Scenes of his Mother berating him in his bedroom for accidently killing some cows he wants to pet make uncomfortable viewing made worse when you realise he lives in a dark, cold mine. That he is so easily manipulated into killing by a pretty young lady later in the film highlights that far from being a monster he’s just a child trapped in a man’s body that he doesn’t understand. His inability to speak in coherent sentences seems more logically a result of living in a cave for seven years and never properly processing the death of his father rather than any ill effect of a meteor strike.

The film builds to a King Kong/Frankenstein style ending at the top of a large cliff where after taking his revenge on the girl who manipulated him he is shot by the local law enforcers. This ending adds to the sour taste the rest of the movie has left behind. Whether it’s a case of poor execution of a more harmless screenplay or grossly misguided poor taste is redundant. Teenage Monster feels exploitative which is a shame because if it hadn’t become bogged down in an area a b-movie has no business in it might have at least been an enjoyable 65 minutes of throwaway sci-fi fun. As it is Teenage Monster fully deserves its place as the fourth least watched 1950s film on LOVEFiLM instant.