Archive for marlene clark

Goregirl’s Werewolf Project: THE BEAST MUST DIE (1974)

Posted in horror, movies, UK with tags , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2012 by goregirl

The second werewolf film to not make the top ten shortlist is Amicus Production’s 1974 film The Beast Must Die, directed by Paul Annett.

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.

GANJA AND HESS (1973) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , on February 9, 2010 by goregirl

You do not want to come to ‘Ganja and Hess’ for anything remotely resembling traditional vampire lore. The word vampire is never uttered. This is really a film about addiction. An addiction to blood that comes with some powerfully trippy visions. This strange, unique and hypnotic film definitely left an impression.

Dr. Hess Green is stabbed by his assistant with a knife found during an excavation of the civilization of Myrthia. Hess awakes to find his assistant has committed suicide. He also discovers his wound has already healed and he has acquired a taste for blood. Hess is contacted by his assistants wife, the beautiful but abrasive Ganja, whom he reluctantly invites to stay with him. Ganja initially distrusts Hess but is eventually overwhelmed by her attraction to him. The two engage in an affair but will Ganja survive Hess’ secret?

It should be noted that the film was cut to shit and presented as an exploitation film under the title ‘Blood Couple’. Those involved in making the film despised this version and it was clearly not the director’s intention to make an exploitation flick. Having never seen the ‘Blood Couple’ version I can only comment on this restored version presented as ‘Ganja and Hess’. I highly recommend checking out the commentary on the DVD to learn about the films checkered past. The ravages of time have left the film in less than perfect condition and it was necessary to piece some of the film back together. The restored version has sound issues at times and some of the scenes don’t flow into one another as well as they should. Regardless, it is a fascinating and well-executed film that is highly deserving of this much needed restoration.

‘Ganja and Hess’ is a slow boil full of subtle horror and if you are open to the experience you will become completely and utterly lost in Dr. Hess Green’s nightmare. I mentioned the lack of vampire lore, but Hess does share some characteristics with your traditional vamp. Hess cannot die, at least not by standard methods. It is not a stake to the heart that will kill Hess but that classic Christian symbol the crucifix does play its part. Being a man of well means we see Hess drinking blood poured from a crystal decanter but when the “fever” hits he is just as likely to lick blood off of the floor. Hess’ addiction is feral and comes with some amazing haunting visuals and an extremely effective use of tribal beats. The films unique soundtrack greatly enhances the overall look and feel of the film. Duane Jones is excellent as Dr. Hess Green, the wealthy, refined man with a taste for blood. The handsome bearded Jones has a strong presence and his performance was mesmerizing. Marlene Clark plays the beautiful but abrasive Ganja with whom Hess has a most unusual love affair. She too gives an outstanding performance and the sexual chemistry between the two is electric. ‘Ganja and Hess’ is definitely dark and the sense of foreboding could be cut with a knife. At the end of the trip you are rewarded with a highly potent and satisfying ending.

There is much I could say about ‘Ganja and Hess’ but it truly is a film that needs to be experienced first hand. I would even say a second viewing is almost mandatory to catch all the little subtleties at hand here. It is not a traditional horror film by any means and I would be hesitant to recommend ‘Ganja and Hess’ to those who need a lot of action and gore in their films. Director Bill Gunn takes an artistic approach to horror and creates a very stylistic film with some most unique and dreamy visuals that left me sweetly sated. Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Bill Gunn

Starring: Duane Jones, Marlene Clark, Bill Gunn, Sam Waymon, Leonard Jackson