Sunday, 24 March 2013

MARCH 24, 2013

070 CRY OF THE WEREWOLF (1944) Directed by Henry Levin ***

I've been looking for this film for nearly fifty years. Whenever the subject of werewolves came up when I was a teenager (and being a horror fan the subject did come up) my mother always said that this was her favourite of the genre. But the film seemed to have disappeared (at least in Britain). Columbia were not particularly noted for their horror films in the 30's and 40's although they did produce two excellent Karloff vehicles in THE BLACK ROOM and THE DEVIL COMMANDS and the entertaining RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE and, of course, the routine series of mad doctor films with Karloff - the plots and titles of which seem interchangeable. But back to CRY OF THE WEREWOLF. After waiting so long to see it, was I disappointed?  Not at all.  The reviews on IMDb are pretty evenly split between those who are cautiously enthusiastic and those who think it the worst werewolf film ever made. What those who deride the film seem to have completely missed is how much the film is influenced by what Val Lewton was doing over at RKO and the film is almost successful in creating a mood similar to CAT PEOPLE (although Levin, a pedestrian director at best, is certainly no Jacques Tourneur) especially in the scene set in the vaults of a funeral home where Stephen Crane is stalked through the shadows by a wolf - strongly reminiscent of the swimming pool sequence in Tourneur's film. The movie strives for suggestion rather than shock and for the most part succeeds admirably.  Nina Foch is excellent as the gypsy priestess and there is good support from the aforementioned Stephen Crane,Barton, Osa Massen, MacLane, Blanche Yurka, John Abbott and the ever welcome Milton Parsons.

Cry of the Werewolf

Also viewed :

071 THE SHANGHAI COBRA (1945) Directed by Phil Karlson.  **


Cerpts said...

Strooth, I've been looking for that movie for 50 years as well . . . and I'm only 47!

From the descriptions and stills I've seen over the years, I've always assumed it was "Lewtonesque" and it's nice to hear your corroboration. It's also good to hear that the film isn't a dismal disappointment. Despite the fact that Nina Foch hated horror movies.

And for anyone to even suggest that CRY OF THE WEREWOLF (or any other werewolf movie) is the worst werewolf film ever made is bonkers while Universal's SHE-WOLF OF LONDON exists!

Weaverman said...

You are so right about SHE WOLF OF LONDON! The good news is that CRY OF THE WEREWOLF is viewable in its entirety on You Tube. A DVD release would be nice but the YT print is excellent and downloadable if you know how!