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The Boy Who Cried Werewolf

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    C.D. Workman
    Senior Member

  • Boy Who Cried Werewolf, The



    Released by: Shout! Factory/Scream
    Released on: July 26, 2010
    Directed by: Nathan H. Juran
    Cast: Kerwin Mathews, Elaine Devry, Scott Sealey, Robert J. Wilke, Bob Homel, Susan Foster, Jack Lucas, George Gaynes, Loretta Temple, David S. Cass, Sr.
    Year: 1973
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    It may come as a surprise for some horror aficionados that most of the major entries in the werewolf subgenre—Werewolf of London (1935), The Wolf Man (1941), Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943), The Curse of the Werewolf (1961), An American Werewolf in London (1981), and The Wolfman (2010)—were all released by Universal. While The Boy Who Cried Werewolf isn't exactly a major entry, it falls under Universal's auspices nonetheless, and it does feature one enterprising effect new to the genre at the time: the beast's elongated canine snout. Up until this point, the werewolf's nose had been short and stubby, more man than monster, making Thomas R. Burman's makeup effects here fairly groundbreaking. They would be improved upon, of course, in The Howling (1981) and the aforementioned An American Werewolf in London. Unfortunately, the snout may be the best thing about the makeup, as the Shaggy Dog look tends to be too cute and cuddly to instill any kind of frisson into the proceedings. As a whole, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf is a throwback to an earlier time, owing more to Columbia's The Werewolf (1956) than it does to anything made or released by Universal. Similar makeup, similar settings, similar approach, though the sympathy quotient has been upped to an almost obnoxious degree.

    Richie Bridgestone's parents, Robert (Kerwin Mathews) and Sandy (Elaine Devry), are going through a complicated divorce. They love each other, but Robert is oppressive while Sandy is progressive. They want to make the transition as easy as possible for young Richie (Scott Sealey), which means joint custody and no arguing in front of the boy. Robert decides to take his son to a cabin in the woods for the weekend, but while there, he's attacked and bitten. Richie insists to anyone who will listen that his father was attacked by a werewolf, but no one believes his story, even when his father becomes a werewolf and terrorizes his son and ex-wife and commits a series of gruesome murders. Thankfully for the viewing audience, there are a lot of full moons in these particular woods, and it isn't long before the truth is finally revealed, though the film takes a few detours through a religious commune and a psychiatrist's office before getting there. All's fair in love and transformation, however, and, despite its regressive approach to horror, the film is a reasonably satisfying diversion, entertaining hokum of the nostalgic variety.

    The film was directed by Nathan Juran, who saw his share of classic and shitty in a career that included everything from Universal's The Black Castle (1952) and The Deadly Mantis (1957) to The Brain from Planet Arous and Attack of the 50-Foot Woman (both 1958). When he wasn't making crap, Juran could be found working with stop-motion wizard Ray Harryhausen on such classics as 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), and First Men in the Moon (1964). He was also no stranger to lead Kerwin Mathews, who had starred in 7th Voyage and Jack the Giant Killer (1962) for the director. A former World War II vet, Mathews had been a handsome and reliable leading man, working not only with Juran and Harryhausen but also Hammer Films. In 1961 he met his longtime partner, Tom Nicoll, and he eventually retired from acting to run an antiques shop in San Francisco. The Boy Who Cried Werewolf found Mathews at the end of his career; he made only one more film, Nightmare in Blood (1977), before turning to something a bit more stereotypical. Werewolf may not have been Mathews swan song, but it did find him giving a better performance than one should rightfully expect from such a hokey affair. Not that it harms the picture; it most assuredly doesn't, and anyone interested in early '70s, post-Hammer thrills should give The Boy Who Cried Werewolf a shot.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Boy Who Cried Werewolf has been released on Blu-ray by Shout's horror imprint, Scream Factory, on lease from Universal. The film is presented in 1080p high definition with an MPEG-4 AVC encode in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Pressed onto a BD25 disc, the film mostly looks fantastic, with sharp detail throughout. Since much of the film plays out against a wooded backdrop, there's plenty of foliage to prove why Blu-ray is a better viewing option than standard DVD; from the outsight, it's clear that the film has been given a new transfer. Issues are minor: no real dirt and debris once the opening credits have finished rolling, and some slight problems with black levels that are not quite deep enough in a few scenes. Overall, grain looks natural and contributes to the film's vibrant look. If there's any complaint at all, it's that the day-for-night scenes, which surely looked like night upon the film's original release, have not been corrected here, resulting in many sequences in which the werewolf is running around in what appears to be broad daylight. Colors are sharp—particularly reds, greens, and blues—and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum. All in all, on a visual level, Scream's release should be praised; it's doubtful that the film has ever looked better, and fans should be pleased. As for that BD25 disc, it isn't a problem, as the film runs a mere 93 minutes and the only real extra is a combo trailer with Sssssss (1973; also released on Blu-ray by Scream with a stellar transfer).

    The film sports a newly mastered DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track, which is certainly clean enough. Dialogue and sound mix well, though there are some minor fluctuations that may result in some viewers keeping the remote handy to adjust the sound level as needed. English subtitles are provided for those who are deaf or hearing impaired.

    There are two extras. The most important is the trailer mentioned above; the first half of that trailer's 2:24 running time is dedicated to Sssssss, with the second half is devoted to the second feature, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf. The only other extra is a photo gallery that lasts 3:32 and features stills from the film as well as publicity materials such as movie posters and lobby cards. Some stills are in color, others in black and white. All contain a high level of detail.

    The Final Word:

    The Boy Who Cried Werewolf may not be a great entry in the man-to-beast subgenre, but its charms are undeniable. Scream has utilized a superb transfer, which features sharp detail, vibrant color, and an organic grain structure. Sound is cleanly presented, and though the extras are a bit lacking, there is a trailer and photo gallery. All in all, fans should be pleased, and people who have never seen the film shouldn't be afraid to give it a shot.

    Christopher Workman is a freelance writer, film critic, and co-author (with Troy Howarth) of the Tome of Terror horror film review series. Volume 2 of that series (covering the 1930s), is currently available, with Volume 1 (covering the silent era) due out later this year.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!



















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