You Would Do Well to Heed the… – Cry of the Werewolf (1944)

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While the Universal monster factory was in full swing, along came Columbia who decided to release a little film of their own with a creature the former studio was having a bit of success with – the werewolf.  As such, Columbia, writers Charles O’Neal and Griffin Jay and director Henry Levin did not stray too far off the beaten path that Universal had set out.  There are the usual transformations, though with a twist and never seen, the silver and of course the Gypsy element because you cannot have a werewolf movie without Gypsies. While some of it was familiar, it was nice to see though that they did add in a little bit of originality with some of these things as well as having their own werewolf mythos diverge from the norm.

cry of the werewolf35The film uses many of the same techniques that Universal and other studios would put into effect to create a horror movie that would not only scare its audience but also keep the budget down.  Lighting and the proper usage of it would help to generate an appropriate atmosphere, a script that lays the groundwork and is fairly strong in its use of dramatic tension, not to mention having a creature that is spoken of but rarely seen.  In fact, the practice of keeping the villain, the monster or the beast off-screen was used in many films of the era and is still in use to this very day.  Something that is talked about in hushed whispers is often far more frightening than that which we eventually see.  It is especially much more practical if the money is not there to do proper special effects and you do not want your creature coming off as looking cheap or even worse, causing a laugh.

cry of the werewolf11The film stars Nina Foch as Marie Latour, the werewolf of our film who is able to turn at will, no full moon needed.  Beautiful and talented, it is hard to take your eyes off of Foch when the other players of our movie are introduced and she holds your attention through it all, especially as the mystery that runs through the film has to do with her primarily.  There is also the question of what happened to Dr. Morris and who killed him.  It all comes down to his studies of the werewolf and the involvement of the Gypsies and his son Bob as portrayed by Stephen Crane is bound to get to the bottom of it.  Helping young Bob on the case is his father’s assistant Elsa played by Osa Massen.  There are no A-list stars in this film and that is perfectly fine as a solid B cast can sometimes deliver a performance that is just as good as and sometimes better than a big production.  Such was the case here with a cast full of veterans and with a dependable script to work from, the performances made the film quite enjoyable.

There were a few moments that were a little slowly paced, which in the end did not lessen the entertainment found herein, but people tend to look down on this film as there was no actual werewolf shown.  The fact of the matter is that this movie was not made to compete with The Wolf Man or to ape Lon Chaney Jr.  It was made to cash in on the monster craze and who would not do such a thing, especially when you can make a film with a fraction of the money needed, one similar yet also unlike its counterpart?  Cry of the Werewolf is not the greatest werewolf movie you will ever see and will never be the greatest one ever made and even though things have been changed and it features a woman in the lead and as said creature which is really a fantastic thing, does not mean that this is a bad film.  It is different or at least different enough, which is what makes it a good movie.  Not everything has to be the same and no one should want it to be as such.  This is a fun, moody and sometimes eerie werewolf film and you could not really ask for much more than that.

3.5 out of 5
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