(1969)3Nathan SouthernLong ignored and forgotten, having fallen through the cracks of cinema history for over three decades, A Day With the Boys received renewed public and critical attention in mid-2002 when it made its home video debut, as a featurette on the Criterion Collection DVD of David Gordon Green's superlative George Washington (2000). A peerlessly frightening and disturbing mood piece by character actor turned one-time director Clu Gulager, A Day explores the manifestation of evil among pre-adolescents. Its thematic core and narrative trajectory (with a downward spiral into hell) mirror Frank Perry's equally unsettling Last Summer (1969). The coinciding of these two films in the same year can hardly be termed capricious, given the degree to which hate crime, violence, and bloodshed became commonplace around the end of the decade of hope. In that regard, Gulager's use of marching music on the wordless soundtrack hauntingly evokes U.S. military escalation in the late '60s and firmly establishes the film as a Vietnam allegory. The basic storyline suggests The Twilight Zone or Night Gallery (replete with a Serling-esque denouement), but no Zone or Gallery episode ever pushed so far, with a shocking conclusion guaranteed to make many viewers nauseous. The short would indeed be unbearable to watch if it did not rise above its depressing (and sociopathic) implications via Gulager and cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs' sure-handed and fascinating presentation of the material. Psychedelically tinged, saturated with slow-motion sequences, solarization, freeze-frames, and visual balletics, the form of A Day With the Boys gains added creepiness via stylistic dating. Gulager's one effort behind the camera will devastate the queasy and the overly sensitive, and features an ending that challenges credibility ever so slightly (it needs minor adjustments to remain plausible), but once seen, A Day With the Boys burns an indelible impression into one's memory.