Scream of the Wolf (1974)

Rating: C

Dir: Dan Curtis
Star: Peter Graves, Clint Walker, Joann Pflug, Philip Carey

This 1974 TVM benefits from a script by horror legend Richard Matheson, and a strange performance from Walker as Byron, a hunter with an odd attitude towards the series of murders by a wolflike creature that plague a small town. He claims, with an almost Nietzchean philosophy, that fear makes people appreciate life, and that the animals he kills are never more alive than just before he shoots them. [They might argue!] Graves is another tracker, brought in to find the killer, who discovers that its prints go from four legs to two… I think within ten minutes of the start, we were yelling “Byron’s a werewolf!” at the TV, and debated whether this was symptomatic of an earlier, simpler time, when audiences were less observant, and liked their entertainment to state the bleedin’ obvious.

To the film’s credit, this turned out not quite to be the case, though we’re uncertain the way things finally unfold is much more credible. Walker, however, does have the physical presence to be entirely convincing, for example, when he toys with a tree-hugger offended by his Darwinian approach. This counters the weakness that he looks disturbingly like Jim Carrey playing Andy Kaufmann. Overall, given the origins, which obviously limits the horror potential, and its age, this passes the time adequately – if falling a long way short of Matheson’s earlier TVM script, Duel, directed by a young S. Spielberg…