THE BEAST MUST DIE
Directed by Paul Annett
Written by Michael Winder
Based on a story by James Blish
Music by Douglas Gamley
Cast: Calvin Lockhart, Peter Cushing, Marlene Clark, Anton Diffring, Charles Gray, Ciaran Madden, Tom Chadbon & Michael Gambon
1974/92 mins/Color/2.0 Dolby Digital Mono
1.78:1 Anamorphic/English/UK/NTSC Region 0
Review from the Dark Sky Films DVD
The wealthy, narcissist and adventurous Tom Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart) has hunted down and killed every kind of wild animal except for one. He has invited five guests to his luxuous estate on a remote island. The guests are, Dr. Lundgren (Peter Cushing), a scientist, Bennington (Charles Gray), a disgraced diplomat, Paul Foote (Tom Chadbon), an artist with a sadistic way of painting, the young and lovely Davina Gilmore (Ciaran Madden), Jan Jarzimowski (Michael Gambon), a pianist with a taste for the human flesh and they are joined by Newcliffe's wife (Marlene Clark).
Over dinner, Newcliffe tell them exaclty what his plan is. One of them is actually a werewolf. Now all that is needed is a full moon, and he will be able to discover who the beast is and kill it. The villa is surrounded by security cameras watched by Pavel (Anton Diffring) who takes a look at every movement of the guest. Soon enough, the beast begins to murder the guests one by one...
Unlike what most critics claimed, THE BEAST MUST DIE is not a bad movie but it is not great either. Its a dumb werewolf flick with a touch of blaxploitation and an Agatha Christie mystery that scared me to death when I saw it as a kid back in the mid-70s.
The movie starts with an interesting clip asking the audience to try to identify the werewolf and near the end there is a 30-second "Werewolf Break" for the audience to think over the evidence. Pretty funny stuff! Based on the James Blish's 'There Shall Be No Darkness' short story, THE BEST MUST DIE turned out to be the last horror movie from Amicus.
From all the cast, there is no doubt that Peter Cushing does the more impressive performance as the werewolf expert, always ready to give us details about the beast. Due to the huge success of both BLACULA and SHAFT, Amicus decided to go with a black lead man, Calvin Lockhart (of COTTON COMES TO HARLEM). Surprisingly, for the casting of the beast they decided to go with a real animal! A trained Alsatian wolf hound by the name of Sultan was the werewolf. Even with the make-up and the hairy suit, the "wolf" still looks too happy and cute to be a human killing beast.
This was the first full feature gig for director Paul Annett who previously worked for tv only. It was Milton Subotsky, one of the founder of Amicus, who decided to have the whole "Werewolf Break" (narrated by Valentine Dyall) thing which he clearly stole from William Castle.
THE BEAST MUST DIE bites his way into DVD thanks to Dark Sky Films. The movie is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The movie has been released numerous time on VHS in butchered full screen ratio and sometime even titled, BLACK WEREWOLF. On DVD the movie was previously released in North America by Image Entertainment in 2001 in a 1.66:1 format and in 2003 in the UK by Anchor Bay as part of their Amicus Collection coffin box set in a full screen version. This new anamorphic transfer is much welcomed. The movie is presented uncut and in all its hairy glory. The image is a little grainy during outdoor scenes but overall this is a nice transfer. As for the audio department, we get an English 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono which is clear and crisp. English subtitles are available.
The disc features a very interesing and informative commentary track with director Paul Annett in conversation with film critic Jonathan Southcott. They both go into all the details of the film, the actors, Amicus and everything that surrounded the project. This was originally produced for the Anchor Bay UK edition. We get an extensive 'Photo Gallery' which consist of lobby cards, behind the scenes pix and posters. We also get trailers for THE BEAST MUST DIE, AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS! and ASYLUM.
'Directing The Beast' is a very good 12 minutes documentary about the making of the film with director Paul Annett recalling everything about the film. Finally there's bios on the director, leads and producers. The disc features nicely designed animated menus with some funky music playing. The movie is separated in 16 chapters, comes in a transparent keep case with a four page booklet about the movie and a MPI Home Video catalogue.
"One of these eight people will turn into a werewolf. Can you guess who it is when we stop the film for the WEREWOLF BREAK? See it ... solve it ... but don't tell!"
This Film Features:
Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2006. ©