Plot: What’s it about?
Tom Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart) is a very wealthy man who loves to hunt and while he has bagged almost every creature known, there is one big game animal he has yet to defeat. As such, he invites six guests to his lavish estate and in a weekend, he plans to take down his final conquest. The six guests all have a string of murders behind them and with the evidence at hand, Newcliffe is sure one of them is a werewolf and that’s the kind of animal he wishes to hunt. He informs them that they are to remain on his estate for the weekend and sooner or later, the werewolf will be found out and when that happens, he plans to put it down for good. His massive estate is covered with security devices and numerous cameras, which means the guests are stuck and at some point, the werewolf is bound to be revealed. But as Newcliffe and his wife entertain these guests, tensions mount as to who is the beast, although only one person knows for sure. As the deadline approaches, will you be able to figure out which of the estate inhabitants is the werewolf?
This is a cheese laden werewolf flick, but it is an excellent cheese laden werewolf flick and I am ecstatic that it’s been released on DVD. I mean, this movie has suspense, mystery, horror, and of course, Peter Cushing and what more do you need from a werewolf epic? This film does have some cheese remnants, but I think it is a very effective and well made picture, which I think will surprise a lot of first time viewers. Don’t let all this werewolf talk dismiss you either, even if you hate werewolves, because this is a mystery movie at heart and has elements from all sorts of genres, so it has a broad scope of appeal. The tension builds very well and intense atmosphere is created, which of course, are vital elements in terms of mystery/suspense pictures. There is some gore and horror traits however, so if those things spook you, just cover your eyes during those moments. In the tradition of Ten Little Indians, we’re given a moment to decide who the werewolf is and perhaps if you pay good enough attention, you’ll figure it all out. Although this disc is pretty much bare bones, the movie is good enough to warrant a recommendation, but some extras would have boosted this to a must own release.
The focus of the cast involved here has to be Peter Cushing, whose presence alone adds a macabre tension to the picture. Of course, Cushing played a wide scope of roles in his career, but most of his better turns were in horror flicks. He has all the traits needed to, from his cold demeanor to his icy stare to his carved facial features, this guy was born to be in scary movies, at least I think he was. His performance here is his usual, which means reserved, but powerful and he easily steals most the scenes he’s in. I can’t think of a better person to throw into this film to attain those results, so Cushing was a natural and very effective choice. You can also see Cushing in such films as The Satanic Rites of Dracula, The Creeping Flesh, Frankenstein Created Woman, The Hellfire Club, Star Wars, and Dr. Phibes Rises Again. The cast here also includes Calvin Lockhart (Cotton Comes To Harlem, Uptown Saturday Night), Charles Gray (The Mirror Crack’d, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Marlene Clark (Switchblade Sisters, Ganja & Hess), and Anton Diffring (The Savage Curse, Circus of Horrors).
Video: How does it look?
The Beast Must Die is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. The image offered is more than solid, but lack of anamorphic enhancement forces me to lower the score here. The loss of added resolution is obvious, with frequent edge enhancement and shimmering, elements which an enhanced transfer would have eliminated. But the movie still looks good and is a massive improvement over prior editions, so not all is lost with this release. The print shows some debris and damage, but not an excessive amount and I think fans will be pleased. The colors and contrast are good also, but lack the definition of more recent efforts, of course.
Audio: How does it sound?
Not much to talk about here, a basic mono track is used and while it covers the bases, it never offers much more. This is to be expected however, as this is a film from the early ’70s and I doubt much would be enhanced with a new surround sound mix. The music sounds as good as mono allows, while the sound effects are also well presented, but limited at times. No real complaints with dialogue however, as vocals seem smooth and easy to understand at all times. No additional language tracks or subtitles have been included, if you’re interested in those elements.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains no bonus materials, which just plain sucks.