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Teen wolves roamed theaters long before 'Twilight' series

The Twilight Saga: New Moon spotlights teenager Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), whose mood swings, hormonal urges and sprouting hair would be blamed on puberty, if he weren't a werewolf.

Twilight series author Stephenie Meyer didn't invent that metaphor; movies featured werewolves dealing with adolescence long before Jacob was a pup howling at the moon. Sink your teeth into these lycanthropic flashbacks:

I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) — Michael Landon became an overnight star, playing a juvenile delinquent turned monster by hypnosis. No coincidence that the post-hypnotic trigger for his transformations was school bells ringing. Landon later spoofed the role on a TV episode of Highway to Heaven.

Full Moon High (1981) — A high school quarterback (Adam Arkin) gets bitten by a werewolf and goes into hiding for 20 years. Since he doesn't age, he enrolls at his old school posing as his son. Yes, it's insipid, but Arkin co-stars as a favor to his son, who had better appreciate it.

The Company of Wolves (1984)Little Red Riding Hood gets a Freudian makeover, with a teenager (Sarah Patterson) losing her virginity to a werewolf. Good advice from Granny (Angela Lansbury): "Never stray from the path, never eat a windfall apple and never trust a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle."

Teen Wolf (1985) — Being a high school werewolf has advantages for Michael J. Fox, whose supernatural puberty leads to Barry Gibb hair and mad basketball skills that impress the girls. Fox shied away from a 1987 sequel (starring Jason Bateman) and a Saturday morning cartoon series.

The Ginger Snaps trilogy (2000-04) — Ginger's first menstruation attracts a werewolf, whose attack gives her hormones — and popularity with boys — an unhealthy boost. Part 2 follows her sister Bridgette into werewolf rehab, and the third chapter flashes back to 19th century Canada for some reason. Oh yeah, they're both dead after Part 2.

Skinwalkers (2006) — Approaching his 13th birthday, a half-human boy (Matthew Knight) is pursued by feuding clans before he completely transforms into a werewolf, perhaps ending their centuries-old curse. Hey, the kid can save humanity and get a new bicycle.

Steve Persall, Times film critic

Teen wolves roamed theaters long before 'Twilight' series 11/18/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 19, 2009 9:19pm]
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