Bonus Reviews: The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973) and The Nightmare (2015)
Horror Bulletin Bonus Reviews for Week 162
For this week’s bonus films, we’ll look at an odd couple. We’ll begin with the old not-quite-children's film, “The Boy Who Cried Werewolf” from 1973 and then follow that up with the newer “documentary” about sleep paralysis and night terrors from 2015, “The Nightmare.”
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The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973)
Directed by Nathan Juran
Written by Bob Homel
Stars Kerwin Mathews, Elaine Devry, Scott Sealey
Run Time: 1 Hour, 33 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s pretty middle of the road as far as quality. The boy who does the werewolf crying isn’t a powerhouse actor, which is unfortunate since he’s the main character. It’s watchable and still fairly entertaining.
A werewolf stands in the woods and watches cars driving by as credits roll. He watches a boy, Richie, and his father, Robert, unpack the car. Richie’s parents are seperated. When they leave the house, the werewolf silently follows them. The werewolf finally attacks them and bites Robert’s arm. The werewolf then falls off a cliff and gets impaled on a road sign.
The sheriff comes by, and they have no idea who the dead man was. His blood type isn’t normal, and they can’t identify him. Richie swears it was a werewolf, but Robert and the sheriff don’t believe that.
Robert takes Richie home to his mother; they talk about how she really married her job. Richie tells her about the werewolf. She wants Robert to talk to Richie’s psychiatrist.
Dr. Marderosian knows all about children and monsters. They talk about Richie’s werewolf delusions. Father and son soon head back up to the cabin for another, less violent, camping trip. They pass a bunch of Christian Hippies being examined by the sheriff. They plan to set up some kind of religious commune there in the woods. The sheriff reads their permit and leaves, but he doesn’t like the long-haired hippies in his territory.
Night falls, and Robert watches himself turn into a werewolf in the mirror. This new werewolf chases after Richie, who screams for his dad to come rescue him. Robert runs two cars off the road and kills a guy as Richie watches.
Richie runs to a trailer with a young couple, Harry and Jenny, in it, and they let him in to spend the night. Robert staggers in the next morning, but he doesn’t look good.
The next night, the moon is full once again. This time, the werewolf is inside their cabin. Richie hides until he leaves. The werewolf goes to Harry and Jenny’s place and rolls it down the cliff. He then opens the door and kills them both. He then brings something back to the cabin and buries it. Richie watches the werewolf turn into his father.
The sheriff tells Robert that there’s a wild animal killing people in the area. This time, Richie is silent about seeing any werewolves. Robert doesn’t remember any of what happened.
Richie goes home to his mother and says he’s afraid of his father and doesn’t want to go back. He tells her everything, but she thinks he’s just acting out because of the divorce. Dr. Marderosian thinks they should take it all more seriously.
Time passes, and it’s this month's full moon, Sandy says she’ll go up to the cabin with Robert and Richie. She calls the psychiatrist, but we see him lying dead on the floor.
On the way to the cabin, the trio stops at the hippie commune. Brother Christopher says they’re going to cast out Satan from them. They make a circle, but Robert can’t enter. Christopher says that if Robert is pulled into the circle, the evil will be driven out, but Sandy pulls Robert away to go to the cabin.
Sandy tries to have a conversation with Robert, but he leaves; he’s already sensing the change coming on. Richie goes out to the barn to dig up whatever it was that the werewolf buried. Robert tells Richie to lock him in the barn; he knows what’s coming.
Finally, Sandy sees the werewolf too. They drive off, but the monster takes off cross-country. Brother Christopher hears the wolf howl. “A demon is coming to test us!” he shouts. They see the werewolf and run for their cars. The sun comes up, and they see who it really is.
The sheriff talks to Sandy and Richie, and the story of the werewolf comes up again. Everyone is just so sick of hearing this annoying little kid ranting about werewolves, no one listens. The sheriff feels the same way about the hippies.
The next night, the werewolf’s back in the cabin. Sandy gets a screaming closeup and the monster tries to carry her off. The police are right outside, and they take a few shots at the thing. The cops get a couple search parties set up and go looking for it.
Richie runs off alone, and the werewolf soon finds him. He bites Richie in the arm and the cops all shoot him repeatedly. Finally, the werewolf falls on the broken cross and gets impaled through the heart. They watch him revert to human and now they all believe Richie.
The fight scene in the very beginning is very well choreographed and looked pretty realistic.
It’s a little hard to tell when it’s day and night, as the “night”scenes seem to be shot in the daytime with a filter. It doesn’t work so well. The transformation scenes are really cheaply done, but the actual werewolf mask looks pretty cool.
Richie is shrill, whiny, and too loud. Kids in horror films are often annoying, and he proves the rule. I can understand why his parents don’t believe him; he’s just annoying. Really though, all the acting here leaves a lot to be desired.
In another month, little Richie will become the most obnoxious werewolf ever as he whines at the full moon.
The Nightmare (2015)
Directed by Rodney Ascher
Stars Estrella Cristina, Stephen Joseph, Nicole Bosworth
Run Time: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s a documentary about sleep paralysis. For many, sleep is fraught with things worse than bad dreams. This is the story of eight people and of what waits for them in the darkness.
We begin with a definition:
Late 13c, Middle English (denoting an evil spirit thought to lie upon and suffocate sleepers: from night_ Old Engish: maere “incubus”
Jeff R. from St. Louis explains how his girlfriend used to describe waking up to an evil presence in her room. She’d then wake up and find that it was only a dream. Then the same thing happened to him. He couldn’t move at all; there was a strange rhythmic sound, and then he started seeing things. Then he woke up. This went on nightly for over a month, and he started to think that he was having mini strokes.
Ana M. from New Jersey explains going numb and hearing a buzzing sound. Then there would be the sound of someone knocking on her window. After a while, she would feel a presence in her room that was trying to pull her soul out. This went on for years.
Kate A. was starting a new job with a lot of stress and started seeing a shadow man in her room. She couldn’t move, but really thought someone had broken into her home.
Korinne W. explains that she has always been able to slip into different states of consciousness. She remembers various terrifying things happening to her since her early childhood. He eyes and mouth were sealed shut; everything as shut down except for her consciousness. She could hear screams and crying, always negative sounds. Then the shadow man would arrive in her room.
Stephen P. explains that he often has sleep paralysis. It feels to him like an electric shock before the shadow people come. He sometimes sees more than one of them. There’s the Shadow Man and the Hat Man.
Chris C. describes an encounter as a five-year-old who heard the TV directly talking to him. As he got older, he would experience the paralysis and see the Hat Man (and others) as well.
Connie Y. remembers it happening as far back as when she was six years old. She could always feel the presence right behind her as she slept on her side, but she couldn’t turn over to look. She describes an icy cold dark evil that’s in the room, watching her.
Forrest B. was a year and a half old for his first encounter with the phenomenon. He woke up and couldn’t move in his crib. They were tall, thin, and their bodies looked like television static. They came into his room and tickled him while laughing.
After introducing all eight people and their first-encounter stories, the interviewer comes back and asks each one about their later experiences and what they’ve learned.
Sleep paralysis and night terrors are a real thing. Is it stress or a lifestyle problem? Most of the people interviewed here have been haunted by these problems for decades, with various frequencies of the occurrence. Is it a medical problem, a psychological problem, or is it something supernatural?
The film is primarily people telling their stories, but this is not just talking heads. There are re-enactments and dramatizations as well as occasional animations to portray the creatures and situations described.
Mentions of “Insidious” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and several tangentially related horror films are discussed, and their similarities to the real thing.
There are links to old myths and legends about nightmares that go back thousands of years. One woman explains how she beat the “demons” with religion. One man describes having an out-of-body physical confrontation with the shadow men. Another theorizes that stories of alien abductions may have been experiences of sleep paralysis.
If this is a phenomenon that you have experienced, then you’ll find this documentary interesting. If not, these people might sound like lunatics to you.
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