Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

CRY OF THE WEREWOLF


CRY OF THE WEREWOLF (1944). Director: Henry Levin.

This starts out as a promising horror film, but it never works up enough atmosphere, despite the fact that the settings include a museum of the supernatural with hidden tunnels, corridors beneath a mortuary, and a gypsy camp. Nina Foch plays Celeste, the High Priestess of a gypsy cult, who inherited the curse -- or gift? -- of lycanthropy from her mother, who was named Marie Latour. When she learns that Dr, Morris (Fritz Lieber) is planning to write a book about her mother's disappearance and all it entails, she takes decisive and aggressive action. An interesting aspect of the cult is that it is a matriarchal society, with power passing from mother to daughter. Osa Massen works in the aforementioned museum, and is romantically involved with the son (Stephen Crane) of the late doctor. Blanche Yurka is an old gypsy woman and confidante of Marie's. A big problem with the film is that the sinister werewolf just looks like a cute and cuddly Siberian husky. Barton MacLane seems a bit out of place as the police lieutenant assigned to the case. Cry of the Werewolf holds the attention and has some decent acting -- Crane is pleasant but a bit of a stiff -- but it's strictly a minor werewolf movie. Milton Parsons, the actor who most resembled a living cadaver, is cast as undertaker Adamson, of course. Levin directed a number of Pat Boone movies, including Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Verdict: Where is the Wolfman when you need him? **1/2.

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