Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Beast Must Die|
Actors: Calvin Lockhart, Peter Cushing, Marlene Clark, Anton Diffring, Charles Gray
Director: Paul Annett
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Wealthy sportsman Tom Newcliffe has bagged every sort of big game trophy, except one--a werewolf! Newcliffe has summoned six guests to his isolated country estate for the weekend. Once they have arrived, he announces tha... more »
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"In this world you're either the hunter or the hunted."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 08/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"From Dark Sky Films comes the DVD release of The Beast Must Die (1974), part of their `The Amicus Collection' DVD series (two other films, so far, include 1973's And Now the Screaming Starts and 1972's Asylum), which I was very excited to see for two reasons, the first being I don't think Amicus has really gotten its due over the years (overshadowed by their competitor Hammer Studios), and the second being my past experiences with Dark Sky Films have been good ones as they seem to put forth an exceptional effort in their DVD releases. Directed by Paul Annett ("Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected"), the film stars Calvin Lockhart (Uptown Saturday Night, Predator 2) and Peter Cushing (Twins of Evil, The Creeping Flesh, Star Wars), who frequently appeared in both Amicus and Hammer film releases. Also appearing is Marlene Clark (Beware! The Blob), Charles Gray (Diamonds Are Forever, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Ciaran Madden (Swing Kids), Tom Chadbon (Tess), Michael Gambon (Toys, Layer Cake), and Anton Diffring (Circus of Horrors, Fahrenheit 451).
Lockhart plays Tom Newcliffe, an obsessive, wealthy big game hunter who invites a small group of individuals under false pretenses to his isolated country estate as he's out for the biggest game of them all, a real live werewolf...you see, Tom believes one of his guests is, in fact, a werewolf, and he's scheduled their stay during time when he knew there'd be a full moon in the hopes that the individual afflicted would transform allowing Tom the hunt of a lifetime. As the story begins we see some of the precautions Tom's taken in fortifying his estate with security measures including a helicopter, armed guards, hidden cameras and microphones, underground sensors, and so on, all installed and maintained by his security specialist Pavel (Diffring). After revealing his true intent to his guests (most all, including his wife Caroline, played by Clark, think Tom is a bit nutty) and ensuring none can leave, the fun begins as the full moon rises...sure enough, one of Tom's guests is a werewolf, as evident by a large dog draped in a chintzy fur begins prowling the estate. Despite Tom's technological edge, he's unable to pin down the beast (or discern which one of the guests has a penchant for howling at the moon), and things get tense as various individuals meet their untimely demise (Pavel makes a new friend). As the guest list dwindles, Tom gets closer to discerning the real identity of the lycanthrope, but this is definitely one of those occasions where one must be careful what they wish for as the beast seems not only intent on protecting its identity, but its need to consume human flesh seems to be growing to the point where no one is safe...
While I did enjoy this film, some elements didn't work out all that well for me, the main one being the mystery portion of the story. At the beginning of the film a narrator announces this is a detective story and that we, the audience, are responsible for discerning the identity of the beast (near the end there's what's called a `werewolf break', in that the story stops, a clock appears and the audience is instructed to pick whom they believe the beast before it's actually revealed). The problem was I don't believe there were any actual clues (plenty of misleads, though) that pointed towards one individual over another, so it seemed sort of pointless to expend energy on trying to figure out who the killer was, and better to just let things run their course (which I did). I wouldn't have commented on this but the film made such a big deal about it up front. Another element that bothered me slightly was the character of Tom. He was depicted as being a hunter extraordinaire, yet he seemed to have little issue using all kinds of technological hardware to track the beast, which felt like cheating to me...seems to me a certain amount of pride would be involved, and I would think a real hunter would eschew such a huge edge (Tom had the entire estate, including the surround grounds, rigged for sight and sound), instead relying on his own, extensively honed abilities, but given the beast was of the supernatural kind I guess one could make the argument perhaps he viewed using technology as a means to even the playing field (keep in mind I'm not a hunter, so this is speculation on my part). I guess, in the end, it didn't really matter as all his gadgetry didn't really assist him all that much. I did learn quite a lot from this film, including the following...
1. Hunters seem a tightly wound lot.
2. Given a chance a werewolf will eat your eyeball.
3. Drinking and archery don't mix.
4. You can simulate a werewolf by strapping a chintzy fur on a large dog.
5. Paul can't climb a tree for spit.
6. For an expert hunter, Tom is an extremely rotten shot.
7. Dogs and werewolves (or, at least, dogs wearing fur coats pretending to be werewolves) don't get along.
8. Caroline was sure attached to that dog.
9. If you need to pad out the running time in your film, an extensive and relatively pointless car chase sequence will certainly help.
10. I like hearing Peter Cushing using the word `Transmogrification' in a sentence.
11. Tom may have nearly his entire home rigged with video cameras, but he's no voyeur.
12. If you ever get invited for a weekend getaway by someone named Tom Newcliffe, it's probably for the best you decline the invitation.
As far as the things I liked about the movie, well, the inclusion of Peter Cushing seemed a good idea. His part may have not been all that much, but I do enjoy seeing him whenever I get a chance. As far as the rest of the performers, most did well enough although Lockhart seemed a bit overly dramatic at times, even given his character's obvious obsession. At least he was interesting to watch. There is no real werewolf, in terms of a beast creature running around on two legs with fangs and claws coming out the wahzoo, but only a dog dressed up to look like a really hairy dog. I didn't mind this much as the story kept me engaged as once it gets going, it's pretty tight. There was a little bit of violence and a small amount of blood. My favorite bit in the film comes after Tom, frustrated with his inability to bag the beast, returns to the house and fires off a round in the main hall, apparently in an effort to draw the attention of his guest, one of whom he's certain is the killer. As the guest emerge from their rooms, one of them, a somewhat effeminate, snidely artist type named Paul (Chadbon) makes the following off the cuff comment..."It's like living in a shooting gallery." All in all a fun film with a few flaws, but if you're an Amicus fan (like me), this is worth getting.
The picture on this Dark Sky Films DVD release, presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1), looks very clean and the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio comes across well. Special features include liner notes by Christopher Gullo, a commentary track by director Paul Annett, a still gallery, extensive cast and crew biographies, a thirteen-minute featurette titled `Directing The Beast!', and a trailer for this film along with two others, one for And Now the Screaming Starts (1973), and another for Asylum (1972).
Just a note, this film was previously released onto DVD by Image Entertainment, but the version I reviewed was released by Dark Sky Films and features Peter Cushing on the cover.
"One of you is a werewolf !"
Manfred Zeichmann | Austria | 09/04/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am a huge fan of werewolves, so THE BEAST MUST DIE DVD was a mandatory purchase for me. Let me assure you THE BEAST is one of the most unusual movies starring a furry predator in the history of film.
The movie's hero is a rich big game hunter, who invites several guests to his remote English mansion. Now rich big game hunters are not unusual in movies, although I bet you rarely have seen a black one, and while he looks like a refugee from one of the SHAFT movies, he has an odd British accent (movie director Paul ANNETT comments in an interview in the extra features section that the character was an effort to cash in on the then popular blaxploitation genre and reveals that actor Calvin LOCKHART was unhappy with the role and felt it unfitting for a black person).
His guests are an odd bunch too, consisting of a lycanthropy scholar (the late great Peter CUSHING, one of Britain`s finest actors), a former diplomat (Peter GRAY, who played 007's nemesis BLOFELD in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER), a hippie painter and a neurotic concert pianist and his girlfriend. All of them have some skeletons in the closet, and our big game hunter suspects one of them to be a lycanthrope - "One of you is a werewolf!" he announces to his guests and tells them, he will find out who and kill him.
Despite our hero being aided by high tech video and microphone surveillance of the mansion and the surrounding area, a helicopter, and a whole silver bullet firing arsenal, the bodycount soon starts to rise once the full moon shines from the dark nocturnal sky and tensions mount among the survivors. Everybody is suspicous. Can you guess who the werewolf is? And who will survive his rampage?
Now, admittedly THE BEAST MUST DIE is not very scary, but it is charmingly oldfashioned and unusual enough to keep you interested. Yes, the "werewolf" is clearly a German shepherd dog with a big attached fur (specifically evident in a scene were the "werewolf" fights our hero's dog), but personally I did not find it unintentionally funny. Wisely the "werewolf" is seldom shown and mostly relegated to the shadows. Don`t expect a horror film, think of it as a kind of Agatha CHRISTIE like murder mystery with a werewolf. There are lots of red herrings, wrong clues and some quite good unexpected plot twists toward the end (don't worry, I will not spoil them). And of course there is the well-known gimmick of this film, the "werewolf break" - it is so well known that I don't regard it as spoiler to mention it (towards the end the picture freezeframes and to the sight of a superimposed ticking clock you got 30 seconds to figure out who of the remaining suspects is the werewolf). A great idea!
The cast is great, particularly Peter CUSHING as werewolf expert and Anton DIFFRING as surveillance guy Pavel. Overall it is an entertaining fun film that will appeal to fans of murder mysteries and werewolves alike!
I also enjoyed the extra features, which include the film's excellent trailer as well as trailers for ASYLUM and LET THE SCREAMING START. There is also a good picture gallery, consisting of about 20 or so movie stills, posters and lobby cards. Another interesting extra feature is an interview with director Paul ANNETT, where he fondly remembers working with CUSHING, expands on the "werewolf" scenes, expresses interest in a remake, and loathes the "werewolf break" gimmick. There are also excellent liner notes.
Great cover artwork too! I give kudos to Dark Sky Films for this excellent DVD release!"
YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN
Matthew C. Pinkerton | Denver, Colorado United States | 10/22/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I recently purchased this film on DVD purely as a matter of nostalgia.This flick first caught my attention one dark, lonely night when I was five or six years old and suffering from my seasonal allergies and asthma attack. This movie both entertained me and scared me to death. It has been twenty-three years since I last saw it and, to my surprise, I still think it's a really good movie, though for very different reasons.Sure they put a fur coat on a black dog and expect us to buy it as a wolf. Sure the soundtrack seems better suited to "Shaft in Merry Ol' England" as opposed to a modern gothic horror film. Sure the acting is heavily stylized and, at times, just plain goofy. Sure the "Werewolf Break" in which the audience is given thirty seconds in which to dissect a fairly uncomplicated mystery is way out in Goofyville, but who cares?! Anyone who finds fault with the above is, quite obviously, someone who should not be watching this film in the first place. Like many films made in the long ago and far away, you have to accept a certain level of culture shock. Like many horror films you have to be willing to suspend your disbelief nigh on to the breaking point. Like many British films you have to put up with acting that seems more suited to Stratford on Avon than Dogma 95. Accept these as simple facts of life or don't rent it, folks. It's just that simple.I've read several negative reviews for this particular film which stress the above elements over and over again. Surprisingly, many of these are written by avowed horror hounds who would probably love the movie if it had nudity and/or more gore. I'm certainly no prude and would turn away from neither should a "Director's Cut" of "The Beast Must Die" ever surface. Then again, sometimes it really is nice to see a horror film like this or any of the Amicus vignette films of the sixties and seventies ("Tales From the Crypt," "The Vault of Horror," "Asylum," et. al.) They have an innocense and a joviality that you just don't find often enough. Though some recent horror fare (most notably the "House on Haunted Hill" remake and any episode of HBO's "Tales From the Crypt") attempt to emulate the feel of a picture like this, they always seem to miss the mark. Perhaps its because they are much more willing to let fly with the gore and nudity. The resulting product hence becoming muddled somewhere between childishness and exploitativeness. (For a further discussion of this see the write-up of Stephen King's "Maximum Overdrive" penned by the good people at Jabootu.com).In closing, if you like seventies kitsch or Brit horror of the period or if you just find yourself in the mood for a watchable mystery, you could do a hell of a lot worse. I mean, "Murder, She Wrote" could still be on the air."
Odd but Enjoyable classic
Chris | Australia | 03/12/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There's something about the great actors and high production values that makes movies like this enjoyable well beyond their used-by date. You can say what you want about it being dated or silly, but it is still entertaining to watch. The plot is ludicrous all around, but the actors are all solid and as is often the case, good characters keep the movie alive. The feel is somewhere between a Dr Who episode, an Agatha Christie mystery, the famous Shaft blaxsploitation flick and a traditional Hammer monster movie (I kid you not). The plot revolves around a collection of strangers held captive in a house on the premise that one of them is a werewolf. The host and captor is a swanky African guy who looks likes he's in the wrong movie and his wife is either Cleopatra Jones or someone who looks even better. As others have noted the scenario is a classic Agatha Christie whodunit with the only twist being that one of the suspects is a werewolf rather than a murderer. The movie includes various chase scenes on foot, by car, 4X4 and helicopter. There is no substantial gore or horror to speak of and little suspense and overall this is simply a mystery. Arguably, it is so out of left field that you keep watching to see what will happen next. Whatever the case, this unique film is quite entertaining - one to watch over a bottle of wine."