The poster for Crest of the Wolf (1973) on display in the theater lobby. Photo by Brett Homenick.
Tonight, I returned to the Laputa Asagaya for a 35mm screening of Crest of the Wolf (1973), a pseudo-horror movie that has never really enthralled me that much. Those expecting a more traditional werewolf flick will certainly be disappointed. The werewolf scenes are incidental to the film, which plays more like a violent high school drama.
What we do see of the werewolf isn't all that impressive, either. At some points, the lead actor is simply wearing a wolf mask (and retains his ability to speak), and at other times he's a full-blown wolf, attacking his enemies and causing untold amounts of blood spray. The effects of which are never really convincing.
There are no flashy transformation scenes, either. He just suddenly appears as a wolf. The rest of the movie is pretty trashy stuff (nudity, violence, etc.), especially from Toho. As I said, though, most of the movie revolves around a gang of violent high school thugs who don't take kindly to the new "lone wolf" student who does things his own way.
Here's a nice poster for Toho's Ichi ka bachi ka (1963) that was on display. Looks like a fun flick. Photo by Brett Homenick.
Still, screenings of Crest of the Wolf are extremely rare, so I wanted to take the opportunity to see it in 35mm. I'm glad I did, even though my opinion of the film hasn't changed much. It really isn't a bad film, and it does show a bit of stylistic flair, but let's face it, we're only seeing this movie because it has a monster in it. That's what we want, but it just doesn't deliver.
In Japan, the film is most notable for marking the screen debut of Yusaku Matsuda, a popular actor who went on to star as the main villain in Ridley Scott's Black Rain (1989), and who died shortly after completing that film. (Matsuda plays the leader of the high school gang in Crest of the Wolf.)