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 during the next full moon. (From Scream Factory’s official synopsis)
Following an Academy Award-winning stint as an art director, filmmaker Nathan Juran made a name for himself heading up special effects-driven adventure/sci-fi/fantasy movies and television shows. The most celebrated of these included collaborations with special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen (20 Million Miles to Earth, 1957) and/or actor Kerwin Matthews (The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, 1958). Juran’s final film (which, not surprisingly, featured Matthews) was a cute, but minor ‘all-ages’ monster picture called The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973). It’s a peculiar film that doesn’t quite belong to any particular genre or era. It’s a bit too old-fashioned and “gee willickers” to appeal to adult horror or dramatic audiences, it rarely ever attempts to be funny, despite the absurdity of its premise, and, yet, it’s too wrapped up in the emotions of a post-divorce relationship to appeal to the kid audience I assume it was made for. Sadly, the “lycanthropy = divorce” metaphor is genuinely interesting, but filmmakers never really commit to it, probably because someone behind-the-scenes decided it was too pretentious for a Saturday werewolf matinee. Apparently this movie was remade in 2010 for Nickelodeon. Perhaps that version does something more with it.
Strangely enough, actor Bob Homel’s (he plays a small supporting role here) screenplay is sort of appealing in its structural deficiency. After establishing the familial situation, the story stops, so that the local sheriff can investigate an impromptu hippy commune (it turns out that they’re Jesus freaks, led by the writer himself). Later, as the plot is finally settling, Richie hangs out overnight with a young, bemused couple that happens to be camping in the wilderness near his weredad’s house. To Homel’s credit, these side plots do eventually pay off, even if they’re completely wasteful, narratively speaking. Weredad’s penchant for vehicular damage – chasing cars off of the road and rolling a motorhome down a cliff – is also quite amusing. Again, the whole movie has a very antiquated quality for a 1973 release and looks like it was shot specifically for television. It’s as if it were planned as an episode of The Outer Limits and expanded into a feature a decade after its planned broadcast. Juran’s direction is efficient, but never lives up to the memories of his flashier, effects-driven adventure flicks.
The Boy Who Cried Werewolf was never released on DVD and was even a rare find on VHS, but it did get regular play on television since its not-so-spectacular theatrical release. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray represents the film’s first widescreen, digital, and high-definition release, which is a pretty exciting prospect for fans, especially those that have worn out their taped-from-TV Svengoolie special. This 2.35:1, 1080p transfer is pretty typical for a straight studio scan. There aren’t many signs of color correction, DNR, or restoration, which is just fine, considering the old-fashioned vibe of this particular film. Details are relatively tight with a couple of smudgy exceptions and some stiff gradations. Grain levels can appear heavy, but not unnatural and rarely snowy. The otherwise naturalistic palette tends to skew blue, which is likely a sign of age. Again, the real problem is slight over-compression, specifically halo effects.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono soundtrack is cleaner than the video quality. The issues here are likely all found in the original material, such as the flatness of some effects work and the inconsistencies that noise-reduction and ADR cause (i.e., background noise disappears and reappears between words and some dialogue was clearly added after the fact). Ted Stovall’s music is delightfully over-the-top in the way that it treats this minor B-movie like a full-on Walt Disney opera. The score alternates between brassy and delicate moments without any major distortion.
Double-feature trailer with Sssssss (1973)
Note: I haven’t kept all of the discs I’ve reviewed over the years, so some, like this one, will not include screen-caps. The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray’s image quality.