Goregirl’s Werewolf Project: THE BEAST MUST DIE (1974)
The film opens with the following statement:
This film is a detective story in which you are the detective.
The question is not “Who is the murderer?” but “Who is the werewolf?”
After all the clues have been shown you will get a chance to give your answer.
Watch for the werewolf break!
This is a very William Castle-like gimmick. I was a bit surprised to see such a thing in a film from 1972. It is rather hokey, but I like hokey!
The film’s central character is millionaire Tom Newcliffe whose goal is to hunt the ultimate game; a werewolf! The opening scene sees Tom himself being hunted which we learn was merely a test of the security system he just had installed. Tom has invited five guests to his grand home and believes one of them is a werewolf.
The Beast Must Die has a splendid cast! The great Peter Cushing is here as the werewolf expert, along with Charles Gray (The Devil Rides Out, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Marlene Clark (Ganja and Hess, The Jezebels), Anton Diffring (Circus of Horrors, Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye, and Calvin Lockhart (Cotton Comes to Harlem). It has got a funky 70s soundtrack too! The premise is unique and a lot of fun and they use all the classic werewolf props like wolfsbane, silver and of course the full moon! They also beef up the werewolf lore with a whole lot of lycanthropy trivia courtesy of Peter Cushing’s character.
There are two reasons The Beast Must Die failed to be top ten material. The film has pacing issues and drags in spots but more significant was a disappointing werewolf and transformation. A brief glimpse of a furry hand, a furry face and than a big dog! Woof! I am all about the half-human, half-animal aspect of werewolves. A dog or even an actual wolf just doesn’t cut it for me. Despite these feelings, I found The Beast Must Die entertaining. There is some nice build-up to the werewolf break and the finale is quite energetic. Add a great cast and a funky soundtrack to the mix and you have a watchable, but flawed bit of 70s cinema! If you have seen and enjoyed any of Amicus Productions other films, particularly their anthologies, I suspect you will enjoy The Beast Must Die. Recommended.