The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973)

boycriedwerewolfHere is why parents should never get divorced: Wounds cut deep. Resentment boils and festers. Kids are hurt the most. Dad sprouts fangs.

Okay, so I skipped a few steps.

This happens first: Dad, aka Robert Bridgestone (Kerwin Mathews, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad), takes his only child, Richie (Scott Sealey, in his first and last movie), to his mountain cabin for the weekend. With trusty walking stick in hand, he and the boy saunter outside toward a juicy steak dinner they never get to order, because Robert is bum-rushed by a wolf man (Action Jackson stuntman Paul Baxley). They tussle until Robert is able to toss his attacker off the cliffside, fatally impaling the toothy stranger on a highway road sign.

Later, having been bitten in the scuffle, Robert sprouts fangs, as well as a black nose like my Shih Tzu has, gnarly fingernails, hair frickin’ everywhere — the works! Since The Boy Who Cried Werewolf is in the directorial paws of Nathan H. Juran (1958’s Attack of the 50 Foot Woman) and not of John Landis, the transformation plays out as a series of still photographs, with Robert increasingly appearing like The Shaggy D.A. stuck in an O-face.

boycriedwerewolf1To the authorities, Robert denies he was assaulted by anything other than fellow man, despite their face-to-snout encounter taking place in broad daylight. “Stop this monster nonsense!” he yells at Richie, who won’t shut up about the pee-your-pants awesomeness he witnessed. Robert’s occult-friendly shrink (George Gaynes, all seven Police Academy outings) tells him not to rush to judgment, because children can see monsters. (Or something like that. What other advice could Robert possibly expect from a man whose office shelves are stocked with tribal tchotchkes and a thick book whose spine is imprinted with the word “ALOE”?)

Turns out, turning into a lycanthrope isn’t just a one-off. With every “full moon” — I surround that in quotes because Juran has to hold the record for most scenes depicting darkness in the rays of the sun — the elder Bridgestone’s wild side emerges. In these sequences, a lot occurs: Fleeing from his werefather, Richie cock-blocks a young couple. A makeshift commune of hippies (led by screenwriter Bob Homel) prays for Jesus to keep them safe. The curmudgeonly sheriff (Stripes’ Robert J. Wilke) blames the carnage on a puma. And, as Richie’s MILF of a mother, Elaine Devry (A Guide for the Married Man) makes parental concern appear downright sexy.

Looking every bit like a Universal TV series of its era, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf is executed quickly and cheaply, yet also competently. When he’s running around wearing the monster mask, Mathews is an inadvertent hoot; the juvenile Sealey, then around 12, gives the more believable performance — and trust me: He’s no Haley Joel Osment or Jacob Tremblay. But his presence and POV help make the movie equally fun for adults and their offspring, harmlessness and all. It’s cornball horror at its log cabin-comfiest. —Rod Lott

Get it at Amazon.

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