Review: The Beast Must Die
Blu-ray: The Beast Must Die (1974)
The Beast Must Die is a big screen adaptation of the popular British parlour game “Guess the Werewolf”, played in country estates across the land every full moon.
Okay, so while the above may well be a frivolous way to begin a review, and also not entirely accurate, it does reflect the tone of the movie, which pauses for 30 seconds towards the end to allow the viewers to guess who is the werewolf in a “werewolf break” …I guessed wrong.
Tom Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart) and his wife Caroline (Marlene Clark) invite 6 people to their country mansion for reasons that the guests are initially unaware of, until Tom reveals that one of the people there is a werewolf and he intends to find out who it is and then hunt them down…this comes after an opening segment showing Tom testing all of the hunting/security features that he has had fitted around the estate.
His reasoning that one of them is a werewolf is tenuous to say the least. He addresses each person in turn and tells everyone how unexplained and violent deaths have followed them. But surely:
A) It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a werewolf.
B) They may not all be responsible for the deaths.
C) They could conceivably all be werewolves…or indeed none of them.
The above though is just one of the attractions of The Beast Must Die, as it doesn’t take itself too seriously and is an enjoyable horror/whodunnit romp which has you guessing the werewolf while smiling all the way through it.
The werewolf itself is only briefly glimpsed to begin, but when it is eventually shown in all its glory I was howling (no pun intended). I shall not begin to describe it so as to not spoil the surprise you have in store…An American Werewolf in London this is not.
Tom also has a sexy line in “werewolf hunting attire”, all of which are in black, and a particular favourite being a lycra/pvc jumpsuit…surely a cosplay outfit waiting to happen!?
All the cast are great, with Peter Cushing putting in his usual impeccable performance, despite being hampered with a wig that makes it look like he has an ageing hedgehog balanced on his head, while Charles Gray looks and sounds as menacing as ever…even if he is just saying a simple “good morning”.
The Beast Must Die is very enjoyable to watch and looks fantastic on this Indicator release. Factor in a great set of special features, and you have another release from Powerhouse Films that should be in everyones collection.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- High Definition remaster
- Original mono audio
- Audio commentary with director Paul Annett and author Jonathan Sothcott (2003)
- Interview with Max J Rosenberg (2000, 48 mins): archival audio recording of the famed producer in conversation with Sothcott
- The BEHP Interview with Jack Hildyard (1988, 92 mins): an archival audio recording, made as part of the British Entertainment History Project, featuring the Oscar-winning cinematographer in conversation with Alan Lawson
- The BEHP Interview with Peter Tanner – Part Two, 1939–1987 (1987, 81 mins): an archival audio recording, made as part of the British Entertainment History Project, featuring the celebrated editor in conversation with Roy Fowler and Taffy Haines
- Introduction by Stephen Laws (2020, 4 mins): appreciation by the acclaimed horror author
- Directing the Beast (2003, 13 mins): archival interview with Annett
- Super 8 version: cut-down home cinema presentation
- Image gallery: publicity and promotional material
- Original theatrical trailer
- Kim Newman and David Flint trailer commentary (2017, 2 mins): short critical appreciation by the genre-film experts
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard- of-hearing
- Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Neil Young, an archival article on Amicus Productions, a look at the James Blish short story which inspired the film, an extract from the pressbook profiling actor Calvin Lockhart, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited edition of 5,000 copies
The Beast Must Die is released on 29th June 2020.
Review by Dave from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.
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