A detective story in which you are the detective sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? How about an all-star cast including Peter Cushing, Calvin Lockhart and Michael Gambon? Can you solve the mystery and identify the blood crazed German Shepherd? I mean werewolf, obviously. It’s not like there were budgetary restraints or anything. The Beast Must Die is a 1974 horror movie directed by Paul Annett.
With Calvin Lockhart hamming it up in the lead role, and a jazzed up funky soul soundtrack, The Beast Must Die feels more like a blaxploitation film at times. This Hammer Horror crossbreed homes in on eccentric millionaire Tom Newcliffe, a big game hunter who dreams of capturing the worlds biggest prey. So he invites several guests to his estate, all of whom could be the ludicrous lycanthrope, and the viewer can play along too, courtesy of a thirty second werewolf break at the end of the movie.
Having a German Shepherd take centre stage might sounds utterly ridiculous but when was the last time you saw a convincing werewolf on screen? Besides, Michael Gambon gets away with a curious Stephen Fry impersonation so maybe we should give the dog a bone. I spent the entire movie convinced that Peter Cushing was the perpetrator. Not just because he knew an awful lot about werewolves, or because he kept showing up at the wrong place at the right time, more because he played the part of Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars. How can you trust a guy who blows up an entire planet just for kicks? I don’t care how many vampires he’s staked.
Despite early reservations, The Beast Must Die is actually a whole lot of fun. Playing along at home is a neat touch and the actors seem to be having a great time. The mystery elements are handled really well and the twists and turns ensure you wont lose heart. More hammy than Hammer, The Beast Must Die earns extra points for using its name in the dialogue. You really can’t ask for more than that. AW