The Beast Must Die - The Beast Must Die(Blu Ray) [Powerhouse - 2020]Part (werewolf) who-done-it, part 70ís action-thriller, & part camp- horror- with touches of blaxploitation & cheesy 70ís tech- The Beast Must Die is a real romp of a film. Here from Powerhouse is a recent Blu Ray reissue of the film- featuring a remastered print, and a good selection of largely archive extras.
The Beast Must Die appeared in 1974, and was one last films to appear from British low budget horror company Amicus Productions who are most known for their Portmanteau horror films, though they did some interesting stand-alone genre films too. It was directed by Paul Annett, who has only one feature film credit to his name 1980ís family drama Never Never Land- he mostly directed brit TV shows such as Eastenders, Poldark, The Tales Of The Unexpected. The films directed well enough, and the genre mashing-up is done in a fairly balanced manner - but there is a hell of a lot of 70ís campy present here- so if you're looking for a straight nasty 70ís horror film, this won't be for you.
The film opens with an announcement- letting the audience know this is a who-done-it film, but instead of murder who-done-it, itís a werewolf who-done-it, and that at a certain point weíll get a werewolf break to make-up our mind before the reveal- so very William Castle. As we get into the film itís self we get opening credits of grand yet ragged British landscape, over which we get a soundtrack blending together horn bound funk & trad jazzÖ.fairly soon weíre following mustached Blackman Tom Newcliffe(Calvin Lockhart) as he seemingly been tracked by a group of armed men through a forest, as a suited Whiteman watches it unfold on surveillance equipment. Mr. Newcliffe stumbles out in front of a British mansion house, where guests are politely taking teaÖheís shot, and falls- but the bullets are blank, and we find out fairly soon that Newcliffe is the owner of the house, he clearly loves crazed sport & big game huntingÖ.and we find out heís invited a group of folks who may-or-may-not be a werewolf- and we have some fairly well-known faces, Peter Cushing as Dr. Christopher Lundgren, Michael Gambon as the shifty 70ís art type Jan, and Anton Diffring as the creepy well dressed Germanic Pavel.
The film unfolds at a fair pace- as we switch from dramatic chases both on foot, via vehicle & chopper, campy who-done-it, and largely nighttime bound werewolf action that has moments of fleeting gore. I first saw the film as part of 2003 Amicus five-disc DVD set that appeared on Anchor Bay- and I found it a lot of 70ís camp horror/ action fun- re-watching it again on this new Blu ray it certainly still comes off well, and Iíd say if you like less serious & nasty horror-thriller cross breeds youíll get a real kick out of The Beast Must Die.
Moving onto the new Blu Ray release- and the film has been remastered, it certainly looks better in day time/ indoor shots than the previous Anchor Bay release- though itís still rather murky/ ill-defined with the night time shots. Moving onto the extras front & on the disc itís self we only get one new/ exclusive thing- and thatís an around four-minute intro/ review of the film by horror author Stephen Laws- this sees him talking about how the film plays better than it did when it originally came out, general plot/ review of the film, and a few interesting tidbits of info- like the werewolf in the film's poster is not from the film. Next, we get a good selection of archived extras- first from the Anchor Bay release there's a commentary track with director Paul Annett and author Jonathan Sothcott, next a thirteen-minute on-camera stand-alone interview with the director. We get a 2000 interview Max J Rosenberg- who was of the main names behind Amicus Productions. We get two BEHP from the late 1980ís- each runs between 80 & 90 minutes, and features interviews cinematographer Alan Lawson, and editor Peter Tanner. Thereís a cut-down Super 8 version of the film that runs around eighteen minutes. And from 2017 Kim Newman and David Flint do trailer commentary. The finished release comes with a forty-page booklet, featuring a new essay about the film, a look at the short story that inspired the film & press book snippets.
In finishing itís great to see this rather wacky slice of 70ís genre blend getting a Blu Ray release- let us hope more Amicus Productions films get a Blu Ray reissue shortly- as the company put out some great films up & beyond their Portmanteau output there most known for.Roger Batty