Monday, June 30, 2014

The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973)



          Despite bearing a title that would have worked better for a Disney movie—and despite including monster makeup that also would have worked better for a Disney movie, since the titular monster looks a bit like The Shaggy D.A.—this low-budget thriller is a passable creature feature. In fact, the storyline hews quite closely to the classic formula established by Universal’s The Wolf Man (1941), complete with father-son tension and a strong element of inevitable tragedy. So even though The Boy Who Cried Werewolf is incredibly gentle by horror standards, it features a dollop of angst, humorous flourishes, and a solid body count.
          Set primarily in a lakeside forest somewhere in the western U.S., presumably California, the movie tracks the adventures of young Richie Bridgestone (Scott Sealey), whose parents are going through a divorce. One weekend, Richie goes camping with his father, kind-hearted Robert Bridgestone (Kerwin Matthews), and the duo encounters a werewolf while walking along a country road at night. Robert kills the attacker, but receives a nasty bite on the arm. Once the dead werewolf transforms back into a man, Robert tries to convince himself he merely imagined the lycanthropy. However, Richie becomes infatuated with the idea that his father defeated a monster, describing the event to everyone who will listen. Eventually, a shrink assesses Richie and suggests that Robert and his son should return to the woods so Richie can learn werewolves don’t truly exist. Naturally, that’s when Robert starts to get hairy during full moons. Most of the picture comprises suspense scenes of Robert committing murders while in wolf mode—and then wrestling with the consequences once daylight arrives.
          Screenwriter Bob Homel and director Nathan Juran do an okay job of contriving situations wherein Richie is kept free from danger, and the filmmakers also get decent mileage out of the most colorful people occupying the forest at the same time as the Bridgestones—a Jesus cult led by a motor-mouthed hippie named Brother Christopher. (Screenwriter Homel pulls double-duty playing this character, and he’s fairly entertaining; in his best moment, he encourages Robert to fight off his werewolfism by chanting, “Kill it, freak it out, rip it out!”) The Boy Who Cried Werewolf eventually becomes formulaic and repetitive, but the filmmakers wisely play the material straight, letting campiness emerge naturally from the extremely familiar scenario. FYI, there appears to be no connection between this picture and a 2010 telefilm bearing the same name, which was made for kid-TV powerhouse Nickelodeon.

The Boy Who Cried Werewolf: FUNKY

1 comment:

Gerald Martin said...

Juran directed Matthews in the Harryhousen classic, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. Quite a comedown.