Thursday, July 28, 2016

THE BOY WHO CRIED WEREWOLF (1973) (Blu-ray Review)

Label: Shout! Factory
Region Code: A

Duration: 93 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: 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.

Synopsis: 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.

The Boy Who Cried Werewolf marks the final pairing of actor Kerwin Matthews and cult director Nathan Juran (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman), the movie concerns a young boy named Richie (Scott Sealy) who's parents are going through a divorce. His father Robert (Kerwin Mathews) and mother Sandy (Elaine Devry) love the boy, but his mother is a career driven woman of the 70s and things just are not working out for the couple, though the love between them is clearly evident throughout the movie. Dad takes Ritchie up to a cabin in the mountains for a weekend for some father/son bonding. While walking through the woods Richie is attacked by a werewolf, his father defends the boy, beating the werewolf off with a cane, being bitten on the arm in the process. The beast falls down a hill and is impaled on a wooden sign post, dying. 

The boy tells the police that it was a werewolf who attacked them, an accusation which his father denies and of which there is no evidence as the werewolf has resumed human form upon dying, but the boy is insistent. While the grown-up refuse to believe his fantastical story Richie must contend with the fact that his loving father has been bitten by a werewolf and is transforming into a hairy beast each full moon.

The werewolf deign in this one is cool, definitely more of a 1950s man in a mask stuff along the lines of Lon Chaney Jr.but with a nice twist, this werewolf has an elongated  snout which was something new at the times, pre-dating Joe Dante's The Howling by nearly a decade. The transition is still staged through old school time lapsed photography just like the old Universal werewolf movies, and the overall effect is slightly dated and sort of comedic, the werewolf has oddly streaked hair and the transformation process recalls the dog-to-human transformation in Disney's The Shaggy Dog (1959) which made me laugh, but I did like the creature design and that the movie opens up and within seconds you see the werewolf full on howling at the moon, very few movies reveal themselves so quickly, and I liked it. 

The movie does have a certain TV movie sort of charm about it, as it is not not too stylishly shot, the camera set-ups are pretty basic,and while the score from Ted Stovall (his only credited score) is at times dramatic and careens wildly like a old Universal horror theme it is also a bit cheesy and anemic at times, very uneven, but the good stuff id really good.

I brought up Disney's The Shaggy Dog before and the movie is a PG horror film that is largely devoid of blood and gore, the violence is mostly implied, but also a bit dark for a kiddie movie. The werewolf has the tendency to rip the heads from his victims bodies, which in one memorable scene he inexplicably buries with a shovel in the basement of the cabin for unknown reasons, which is just once of the strange things about this weird movie. Another wacky element is the arrival of a band of hippie Jesus freaks who figure into the story who bare witness to the hairy beast and do attempt to drive the evil from Richie's dad. 

The cast is decent, the actors playing mom and dad are good, you buy into their rocky relationship, you know they love their son, you can feel that they want to be a family again, and I think that dramatic element is yet another reason this one reminded me of a family friendly Disney movie like The Shaggy Dog. 

The Boy That Cried Werewolf is a fun relic from the 70s that fans of kiddie horror should look into, it may not be a top-notch werewolf movie but it is a strange and charming kid friendly horror entry from the 70s that is now available in HD for the very first time on any digital format from Scream Factory. 

The Boy Who Cried Werewolf arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory marking the first time it has ever appeared on any digital home video format, which is always exciting. The 1080p image looks fantastic, framed at 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and sourced from what looks to be a theatrical print judging by the cigarette burns I viewed throughout marking the reel changes. While this may not be an ideal source compared to an original negative or interpositive the results here are simply wonderful. Colors are vibrant and there is a nice layer of fine film grain that is nicely managed. Black levels are mostly good with only a few minor exceptions, there is very little print damage to note, a few small scratches, the aforementioned cigarette burns and some white speckling do pop up but overall this is outstanding. 

The DTS-HD MA Mono audio does the job nicely if unremarkably, with dialogue and effects nicely balanced in the mix. The uneven but fun music score from composer Ted Stovall also sounds good. Optional English subtitles are included. 

The only extras on the disc are a theatrical trailer for the movie which is a double-bill trailer for the serpentine horror film Sssssss (1973) plus a gallery of promotional, photographs and stills from the movie. An audio commentary from a horror historian would have been cool, but with a movie like The Boy Who Cried Werewolf I am just happy to have in on Blu-ray with a nice A/V presentation. 

Special Features: 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) 
- Still Gallery (4 Mins) HD 

Scream Factory rescue yet another slice of 70s horror from obscurity with a very fine release of The Boy Who Cried Werewolf on Blu-ray, marking the first time this one has seen a release on a digital home video format. The movie is a bit on the hokey side of werewolf cinema but it does have a certain 70s charm and I have a fondness for movies from my birth year, very pleased to add this to the collection.