(a.k.a. BLACK WEREWOLF)
THE BEAST MUST DIE opens with Tom (Calvin Lockhart, PREDATOR 2) running through English woodlands, chased by a helicopter and several soldiers.
The action is watched on several CCTV screens by Pavell (Anton Diffring, FACELESS). Pavell gives instructions to the helicopter pilot and soldiers over a microphone, telling them to close in on Tom but not kill him ... until he wanders on to a well-kept lawn and interrupts a tea party.
The soldiers execute him in full view of the astounded party. Or do they?
The exhilarating opening scenes, set to an excellent funky score, turn out to be millionaire Tom testing out his new super-dooper security system, overseen by Pavell.
Budding hunter Tom later placates his tea party guests with champagne, explaining that he has had the system installed to help him catch the biggest game of them all ... a werewolf.
He tells his guests that one of them is a werewolf, and that within the next three days he will expose them - and kill them.
As Tom explains, all the guests are from equally suspicious backgrounds: there's Arthur (Charles Gray, THE LEGACY), a UN representative who fell under suspicion when two of his entourage mysteriously disappeared; Jan (Michael Gambo, THE COOK THE THIEF HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER), a pianist banned from performing in certain cities, seeing as though murders always occur when he's there; Davina (Ciaran Madden, SPY STORY), suspected of shooting and half-eating a guest at a dinner party; Paul (Tom Chadborn, TESS), who was imprisoned for eating flesh as a medical student "prank"; and Dr Lundgren (Peter Cushing, TALES FROM THE CRYPT etc), who is famous for his studying of lycanthropes.
Much to the guests' umbrage, Tom insists they must stay on his lavish manor until he has found and killed the werewolf. Even his wife, the embarrassed Caroline (Marlene Clark, ENTER THE DRAGON) cannot make him see sense.
That night, Jan tries to escape the manor but Tom chases him in his car and drags him back. Immediately, Jan's behaviour has marked him down as prime suspect.
But, over the next couple of nights as the guests dine together and share odd stories, they all fall under the suspicious glare of Tom.
With a full-moon in the sky and Pavell watching the guests' movements on CCTV, it's just a matter of time until the werewolf's true identity will reveal itself ... but how many guests will it have slaughtered by then?!
A late entry from the Amicus canon, THE BEAST MUST DIE is a ridiculous mish-mash of ideas that shouldn't work, but does. The name cast are a joy to watch, hamming it up with their ludicrous script in much the same way that Price et al had fun with the endearingly banal THEATRE OF BLOOD.
Director Paul Annett grips immediately with breathless handheld cameras following Tom's opening chase scenes, then lets us rest not one jot as he races through the enjoyable EC-style screenplay, giving each character their time to shine.
Tom's character is a walking contradiction, made even more perplexing by Lockhart's genuinely terrible performance. But, don't ask me why, it all adds to the film's charm. Gambon and Diffring are the only actors who give welcomely reserved performances, evening the balance somewhat. But, of course, it's Cushing's film - even though he doesn't get to do much until the final third.
When the horror comes it's unintentionally hilarious, although admittedly gruesome for it's time. Just don't expect Rick Baker-style FX when the beast is exposed at the end ...
There's a nice grim finale on offer too, the type that were all the rage in the 70s. And, it's impossible not to appraise the film without making mention of its fantastic funky soundtrack.
A fast-moving, funny and enormously entertaining werewolf film.
Optimum's disc is disappointingly bare.
The film is presented uncut in 1.33:1 and the image quality is excellent - sharp, clear and clean. Likewise, the English mono audio track is a consistent and clear effort.
Static menus include a scene-selection menu allowing access to the main feature via 12 chapters.
There are no extras on offer, but Optimum have pointed out the "feature" that allows you thirty seconds near the end of the movie where you get the chance to play detective, and guess who the werewolf is ...
Huge fun, and one of Amicus' best non-anthology releases. It's a shame this disc is so barren though, especially when there's an excellent R1 DVD available, with director's commentary etc ...
I love the cover art for this release though ...
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by Optimum|
|Region 2 - PAL|
|see main review|