The Beast Must Die (film, 2007)
Fun, but awful. Death Ray 3.
Film: TWO AND A HALF Extras: NONE
Director: Paul Annett
Writer: Michael Winder
Stars: Calvin Lockhart, Peter Cushing, Marlene Clark
Can you guess who the werewolf is? You have thirty seconds… You really do.
A bizarre one, this, from vintage house of horror, Amicus. The film is an oddity – the whole affair is set up as a detective story “in which you are the detective”, including a thirty second “Wolf Break” minutes before the end where a clock ticks down while you deliver your pronouncements on exactly who is eating the cast. It’s a neat gimmick, but not one that caught on. There’s a bit of everything in the DNA of the movie – it’s a strange hybrid of detective tale, werewolf film, Landrover advert and blaxploitation flick – as evinced by the African hero and the film’s ludicrously jarring waa-waa guitar soundtrack.
The story has millionaire businessman Tom Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart) invite a bunch of seemingly dissimilar guests to his house for a weekend party. But they have more in common than they think, for one of them, he is sure, is a werewolf, and this greatest of all hunters is determined to bag himself a lycanthrope.
The film doesn’t work brilliantly. The effects are poor (German Shepherd dogs with wigs on, mostly), there’s some of the worst day-as-night filming ever where the cast are literally walking about at midday pretending it is the dead of night, and you can really tell. Peter Cushing puts in one of the worst performances of his long career as crazily accented Swedish werewolf expert Dr Lundgren. Did we mention the science? That’s equally bonkers, too.
Still, it remains watchable to the extent where you don’t have to be an Amicus completist to derive some pleasure from a viewing. This is mostly down to Calvin Lockhart’s scene-munching turn as Newcliffe, a role he manages to inject some real virility into, and if you go with it, it is fun to try and guess who the werewolf is. I say guess as it’s virtually impossible to figure it out from the lacklustre clues dropped earlier in the film, but there are enough twists to at least give it a plot.
Not a classic werewolf flick then, but it does have its moments.
Extras Not a sausage.
Did you know…?
The film is based on SF writer James Blish’s story “There Shall Be No Darkness”. Blish was a multiple award winning writer, whose books are often complex intellectual puzzles (N.B. This film is not an award winner, nor is it a complex intellectual puzzle). His main sequence, the Pantropy books, describes human colonisation of the galaxy by genetically modifying human beings, as it is cheaper than terraforming.