Richie Bridgestone's parents are getting a divorce, but that's the least of his problems at the moment. Richie is hoping his parents will reconsider and on a visit to his father 's secluded cabin, he witnesses his dad being attacked by a werewolf. Much like the tale of the boy who cried wolf, no one in the town will believe Richie's claims that his father will change into a werewolf at the next full moon.
This was the third and final pairing of actor Kerwin Matthews and cult filmmaker Nathan Juran (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Brain from Planet Arous). The two had also worked together on the classic 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jack the Giant Killer.
Some films can feel out of the wrong era. Almost as if they're bathing in too much nostalgia for their own good. Whether intentional or not, these films feel like throwbacks to films that just aren't made anymore. Science Fiction / Fantasy veteran Nathan Juran's 1973 horror throwback 'The Boy Who Cried Werewolf' feels like it was made a couple of decades too late for its own good. While the film is a heck of a lot of fun, it's late 1950s early 60s style pacing and some very dated makeup effects keep it from feeling like a film that belongs to the 70s canon of horror films.
For young Richie Bridgestone (Scott Sealey), life is pretty hectic. His parents Robert (Kerwin Mathews) and Sandy (Elaine Devry) are getting a divorce. There is still a lot of love in the family and Richie's parents are doing their best to hide the stress and strain. Part of the way they do that is by Robert taking Richie out to his old cabin deep in the woods. On one such weekend excursion, Robert and Richie are attacked by a strange man! This man came out of nowhere but Robert was able to fight him off, sending him over a cliff and onto a fence post, instantly killing him. While Robert is reluctant to admit what he saw, Richie is more than willing to tell anyone and everyone who will listen that it was a werewolf that attacked them. A werewolf that bit Robert on the arm!
At first, everything is okay. Robert and Elaine try to tell Richie that werewolves don't exist. They even go as far as bringing in the family psychiatrist Dr. Manderosian (George Gaynes) to calm the child to no effect. Even if no one believes Richie that it was a werewolf, the local Sheriff (Robert J. Wilke) is having a difficult time finding a wild animal that is killing locals and travelers on a stretch of road that passes right beside Robert's old cabin. Richie doesn't want to believe it, but he's becoming more and more certain that his father has become a werewolf and no one, not even his mother, will listen to him!
Arriving in 1973, 'The Boy Who Cried Werewolf' feels like a time capsule of a horror movie. Its look, execution, makeup effects would be premier efforts had it been made fifteen to twenty years earlier. Granted, this is more or less a family-friendly style horror flick, it does look and feel like it would have been better suited as a low-budget Hammer production. The makeup effects make Kerwin Mathews look more like a wild beaver-man than a werewolf. It's some decent practical makeup work, but at the same time, it feels kind of dated. This is especially true when you look at the kinds of films that were coming out at the same time, movies like 'Night of the Living Dead,' 'Last House on the Left,' and 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' to name a few. Since the film isn't very bloody, 'The Boy Who Cried Werewolf' just feels like it got lost on a shelf someplace and was released in the wrong decade.
Part of the reason for that is that it was directed by the late great genre director Nathan Juran. Nathan Juran is the man behind such great titles as 'Attack of the 50 Foot Woman,' 'First Men In The Moon,' and '20 Million Mies To Earth.' Juran also had an established work history with lead star Kerwin Mathews as the pair collaborated previously on 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad' and 'Jack the Giant Killer.' As his last feature film directorial effort, Juran's 'Boy Who Cried Werewolf' is a solid final effort, but doesn't have very modern sensibilities. Its idea of what scares an audience feels right with a drive-in setting, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise as it was originally released as part of a double-billing with 'Sssssss.'
Light on true scares, 'The Boy Who Cried Werewolf' makes a cerebral effort. Most of what constitutes "horror" for the film isn't so much for the hairy beast or the people being killed, but a son watching his father slowly lose control of himself. Kerwin Mathews was always a great performer and committed actor. Whatever role he was playing, whether it be a swashbuckling seaman in 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad' or a coldhearted gunman in 'Barquero,' Mathews could be counted on to give it his all. Considering his longstanding relationship with Nathan Juran, it's a little bittersweet that this would also be one of his last film roles. He brings a genuine intensity to the part of a father knowing deep down that something is wrong with him and not wanting to hurt his family. His makeup may be more than a little bit goofy, but he gets the job done. That sentiment is certainly felt throughout the film. A good effort for what it is, but not the greatest movie, or even the greatest werewolf movie for that matter. It's certainly entertaining, a subplot involving a hippie convent is a nice touch, but the film may illicit more giggles than frights at times.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Boy Who Cried Werewolf' arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Scream Factory. Pressed onto a Region A BD25 disc, the disc comes housed in a standard Blu-ray case. The disc opens directly to a static image main menu with traditional navigation options.
The 1.85:1 1080p transfer provided for 'The Boy Who Cried Werewolf' is a bit of a small victory. For a back catalogue Universal title, it thankfully appears to be a recent scan and isn't bathed in an egregious amount of edge enhancement. Film grain is present allowing for fine details to appear throughout most of the presentation. Colors are appropriately 70s looking with some decent primary pop and flesh tones that make people look like they came out of a crayon box. That said, the black levels are a bit touch and go. While there are some genuinely decent inky black levels, a number of the night scenes were shot day-for-night and weren't properly corrected at the source. These scenes can appear overly bright. What should be the dead of night looks like noon in some places and can be a bit distracting because after all, why would a werewolf be out in the middle of the day? On top of that, due to the photographing process, the image can lose a bit of the finer detail and colors lose their luster. This isn't an issue with the transfer so much as a problem that was cooked into the look. The print sourced for this transfer is in pretty decent shape overall, a minor scratch here and there, a bit of speckling and some flicker, but nothing too terrible. All around this is a pretty good HD upgrade.
'The Boy Who Cried Werewolf' arrives with a pleasing and effective English DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono track. Dialogue is clearly heard throughout, although it would appear that a number of lines were looped in post as the actors can have some rubber mouth in a few scenes. Sound effects are stable and sound natural, they don't really enhance the sense of space or dimension very much. Scoring by Ted Stovall is pretty effective and helps round out the track. There aren't any age-related issues to speak of, free of any hiss or pops. Taken as a whole this is a pretty good track, but it didn't exactly blow my hair back. It gets the job done and that's about it.
Theatrical Trailer: (HD 2:24) This is a pretty fun trailer because it's actually advertised along with 'Sssssss' since the two were released as a double billing.
Photo Gallery: (HD 3:32)
'The Boy Who Cried Werewolf' is a good bit of throwback horror fun. While frights are few, the film does offer an interesting take on the werewolf mythos and proves ample material for Kerwin Mathews to do what he does best. It's hardly the greatest werewolf flick ever made, or released this month from Scream Factory for that matter, but it's entertaining. Scream Factory delivers a solid release for this flick with a decent image transfer and a serviceable audio mix. Sadly extras are a bit lacking, I would have loved some behind the scenes material as even IMDB is light on information about this film. If you're a werewolf fan, this is a good one for the collection. If you're new to the flick, consider it worth a look.