Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I want a gal with a lotta dough
Midweek Music - Kenny Miller, "Eeny Meeny Miney Moe"
From the soundtrack of I Was a Teenage Werewolf
Music and lyrics by Jerry Blaine and Paul Dunlap
The box office success of 1957's I Was a Teenage Werewolf was due to the convergence of three factors that came together at just the right time: 1) The recent court ruling that prevented the Hollywood studios from owning their own cinemas suddenly opened up the market to a slew of independent producers offering cheaper product to theater owners who couldn't afford the more expensive major studio offerings; 2) The increasingly pervasive new medium of Television, considered a purveyor of safe, family-oriented entertainment that skewed to an older demographic, sending America's teens out into the cinemas to seek out that which was "cool," and 3) having found it, now wanting to see movies that featured protagonists of their own generation. Suddenly we had more rebellious teens in hot rods getting into trouble with the authorities, who would take some mighty convincing when it came time to warn the populace about, say, cannibalistic blobs of space protoplasm. Even the monsters got their youthful makeover, as Werewolf was followed within one year by I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, Blood of Dracula (which might as well have been called I Was a Teenage Vampire and was basically Werewolf's plot in a school for troubled girls), Teenagers from Outer Space, and the generically-titled Teenage Monster. In the late 50s, it was good to be a Teen.
Many of these films had an obligatory music sequence, often painfully embarrassing, as producers tried to replicate the sound that was pouring out of car speakers and transistor radios, but with limited results. This is how we get "Eeny Meeny Miney Moe," in which Kenny Miller (Vic the Bongo Guy) entertains a party of friends with his paean to sponging off of a woman of means. For a guy who plays the drums, he has a laughably poor sense of rhythm; by the third line of the song, he's already behind the beat, and the dance break (complete with a time step, something I'm sure every teenager knew how to execute) finds him almost a full measure off. But, hey - a guy's got to be a rebel somehow, right?
I Was a Teenage Werewolf went on to become one of the most profitable pictures AIP released, and Ken Miller still makes the rounds of conventions...hopefully on time.