The Beast Must Die (1974)

UK,
93m
35mm film, Technicolor
mono, English

A British horror film directed by Paul Annett.

Plot Summary

Businessman and avid big-game hunter Tom Newcliffe gathers six guests to his rambling country estate and announces that one of the gathering – all of whom have blood on their hands – is a werewolf. The party is to stay on the estate for a weekend, during which time Newcliffe plans to determine who it is and hunt it down.

Credits

* = uncredited

Crew
Directed by: Paul Annett
© MCMLXXIV [1974] by Satyr Filmmaatschappij N.V.
An Amicus production
Executive Producer: Robert Greenberg
Produced by: Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky
Associate Producer: John Dark
Production Manager: John Davis
Screenplay by: Michael Winder
Story: There Shall Be No Darkness by James Blish *
Assistant Director: Richard Jenkins
Continuity: Phyllis Townshend
Director of Photography: Jack Hildyard
Camera Operator: Derek Browne
Chief Electrician: George Robinson
Editor: Peter Tanner
Colour by: Technicolor
Music Composed and Conducted by: Douglas Gamley
Sound Mixer: Ken Ritchie
Dubbing Mixer: Richard Langford
Sound Editor: Ean Wood
Wardrobe Supervisor: John Hilling
Make-Up: Paul Rabiger
Hairdresser: Bobbie Smith
Special Effects: Ted Samuels
Titles by: G.S.E. Ltd.
Art Director: John Stoll
Set Dresser: Herbert Westbrook
Publicity: Lily Poyser *
Services by: Quail Service Company
Made at: Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Middx. England
Casting: Thelma Graves *

Cast
Calvin Lockhart (Tom Newcliffe)
Peter Cushing (Dr Christopher Lundgren)
Charles Gray (Bennington)
Anton Diffring (Pavel)
Ciaran Madden (Davina Gilmore)
Tom Chadbon (Paul Foote)
Michael Gambon (Jan Jarmokowski)
Marlene Clark (Caroline Newcliffe)
Sam Mansaray (butler)
Andrew Lodge (pilot)
Carl Bohun (hunter 1)
Eric Carte (hunter 2)

Alternative Titles

La bestia debe morir – Spain
Black Werewolf – USA
Cinq griffes dans les ténèbres – France (video)
Kill the Beast! – working title
Mondblut – West Germany
Le mystère de la bête humaine – France
La notte del licantropo – Italy
Pedon on kuoltava – Finland

Production Notes

Production
CinemaTV Today 1 September 1973 reported that during filming the title briefly changed to Kill the Beast!

Press

Variety vol.274 no.11 (24 April 1974) pp.18, 22
[A] contrived but suspenseful British import whose subject of lends to possible sharp exploitation. […] Film takes on certain novelty aspects in beginning as a foreword announces that “this is a detective story, and you are the detective.” Audience then is informed that all the clues will be given, and near the windup audience is asked if it can identify the werewolf from among the guests. The Max J. Rosenberg-Milton Subotsky production develops well enough after an overly-long opening that has little actually to do with the story, but explains that a fanciful closed-circuit tv network has been installed inside and out the manor house to help owner keep tabs on his guests if they should revert to animal form. Script is sometimes plodding, but generally the expected suspicions of the various guests come in for their share of plot. Michael Winder never completely makes his characters believable in his screenplay, but this may be due to the subject at hand which dwells on the old folklore legends of a person changing into a werewolf at will. Calvin Lockhart delivers creditably in the main character, and Peter Cushing is an expert on subject whose discoursing sets the stage. Marlene Clark makes an impression as the hostess. Paul Annett's direction is usually fast and camera work by Jack Hildyard as usual is above standard. John Stoll's art direction is a superlative plus. – from a review by Whit.

Boxoffice vol.105 no.4 (6 May 1974) p.a7
Modern technology gives a new twist to the old werewolf legend in a British-made horror drama of rare quality. Except for minor flaws (e.g., a bit of padding, which includes a 30-second werewolf sequence not really needed), CRC's “The Beast Must Die” is superior film fare. […] Old reliable Peter Cushing gives his usual effective performance, gaining whatever sympathy is due this odd assortment and neatly contrasting Lockhart's very mannered interpretation. […] Director Paul Annett switches from British TV action fare to the wide screen for an impressive debut. – from an uncredited review

The Independent Film Journal vol.73 no.12 (15 May 1974) p.21
The venerable werewolf, baring its fangs on screen every few full moons or so, is back on the contemporary scene again in The Beast Must Die, although this time the fabled creature serves more as the source for one of those “one-of-us-is-a-murderer” mystery plots than as a staple of sheer terror. Amicus productions, whose stable of past successes includes some of the gorier anthology films (Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, etc.) has toned down the bloodletting here and opted for strict, old-fashioned whodunnitry, which may work against audiences whose tastes lie along more shuddery lines. Still, a relatively tight screenplay by Michael Winder should provide audiences willing to puzzle out the identity of the werewolf with an involving enough tale, even though a gimmicky framework casts a somewhat juvenile tint over the proceedings. […] Paul Annet's [sic] direction is surest when focused on the seemingly guilty and in scenes like one in which a table-full of people undergo several of Cushing's sure-fire vampire tests, summoning up a good deal of tension but no positive results. Performances are pretty good throughout, although Cushing's broadly accented portrayal of the Teutonic vampire expert indicates he didn't take the proceedings too seriously. Production values, particularly in a couple of long-winded, outdoor chase sequences, are not up to Amicus' usual classiness.

References

Periodicals

  • Boxoffice vol.105 no.4 (6 May 1974) p.a7 – review (author not credited)
  • Castle of Frankenstein no.23 p.52
  • Cinefantastique vol.4 no.4 (Winter 1976) p.31 – review
  • CinemaTV Today no.10041 (21 July 1973) p.11 – credits
  • CinemaTV Today no.10045 (18 August 1973) p.10 – note
  • CinemaTV Today no.10047 (1 September 1973) p.8 – note (Titles change); credits (In production)
  • CinemaTV Today no.10081 (4 May 1974) p.12 – review
  • Empire June 1999 p.150 – review (by Kim Newman)
  • Flesh and Blood no.3 (1994) p.44 – illustrated credits, review
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.229 no.22 (21 December 1973) p.14 – credits
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.231 no.7 (24 April 1974) p.3 – review
  • The Independent Film Journal vol.73 no.12 (15 May 1974) p.21 – credits, review (Buying & booking guide, author not credited)
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.61 no.485 (June 1974) pp.119-120 – credits, synopsis, review (by Vera Glaessner)
  • New Musical Express 30 August 1980 p.33 – review (On the box)
  • Radio Times vol.248 no.3246 (8 February 1986) p.27 – review
  • Scary Monsters no.114 (Fall 2019) pp.64-66 – illustrated article (A journey into hair-raising horror, with your guide Peter Cushing by Kevin Nickelson)
  • Variety vol.274 no.11 (24 April 1974) pp.18, 22 – credits, review (by Whit)

Books

  • American International Pictures: A Comprehensive Filmography by Rob Craig p.54
  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.288 – credits, review
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.250
  • Film Review 1974-75 by F. Maurice Speed (ed) p.184
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.25 – credits
  • Horror Films of the 1970s by John Kenneth Muir p.313 – credits, note
  • Horrorshows: The A-Z of Horror in Film, TV, Radio and Theatre by Gene Wright p.213 – credits, review
  • Peter Cushing: The Gentle Man of Horror and His 91 Films by Deborah Del Vecchio and Tom Johnson pp.341-347 – illustrated credits, review
  • Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.36-37
  • The Werewolf Filmography by Bryan Senn p.35-37 – illustrated credits, review
  • The World of Fantasy Films by Richard Myers p.82