The Beast Must Die

08/25/2015 20:46

Film: The Beast Must Die

Year: 1974

Director: Paul Annett

Writer: Michael Winder

Starring: Calvin Lockheart, Peter Cushing and Marlene Clark



This begins with letting us know that someone in this film is a werewolf. This is a detective film where the viewer is the detective. All of the evidence will be presented and then there will be something called a ‘werewolf break’ to allow you to decide who the killer is.

The film then shifts to a man running through a field and into the woods; he is played by Calvin Lockheart. He is followed by a helicopter that is piloted by Andrew Lodge. There is a man watching a map and tracking Lockheart, this man is played by Michael Gambon. We see that there are cameras mounted in the trees and microphones set up on the ground as well. Lockheart is caught by a couple of hunters. They fire their guns at him and we learn they do not have real bullets. Lockheart finally gets out of the woods into a field next to a large mansion. He is ‘shot’ by the hunters and this freaks out the people sitting outside who check on him. We realize this was all staged.

We then learn that Lockheart invited all of these people here. We have a doctor played by Peter Cushing. Lockheart’s wife is there played by Marlene Clark. There is Charles Gray, a concert pianist played by Anton Diffring and his love interest, Ciaran Madden. There is also an eccentric Tom Chadbon.

It turns out that Lockheart has reason to believe that everyone here could a werewolf. He doesn’t know who, but he will have everyone stay here during the three nights of the full moon. He presents some facts of each person as to why he thinks they could be the werewolf. Cushing also seems to be an expert on the subject, but he has never seen one in person.

Gambon is still at the site, monitoring the maps and the cameras around the house and the surrounding area. It turns out that Lockheart is a hunter that wants to take on the challenge of killing a werewolf.

While at dinner, Lockheart serves rare meat and then uses a test of everyone touching a silver candlestick holder. It has no effect this first night and we learn that the changes of the moon have not happened yet. If there was some wolvesbane, it would help to make the changes. It turns out that Lockheart has some. When he goes to get it, someone is stalking him with a hatchet. They almost kill him with it and whoever it is secures him to the ground with a pitchfork. They flee with him trapped. Lockheart gets up and collects the wolvesbane.

That night something trips the alarm in the woods. Lockheart goes after it and we hear the wolf howl. Lockheart sees the monster, but does not get a good shot at it. The wolf goes to the house where it attacks and kills Gambon. It also destroys all of the equipment in the room. Its goal was to blind Lockheart in its effort to track it.

Lockheart at first believes that it is Chadbon, but can’t seem to prove it. The signs do seem to point toward him. Lockheart is told by Clark that Madden needs to go back to town. Lockheart takes all of the spark plugs out of the cars and is shot at with an arrow by Chadbon. He states he is tracking the beast as well.

This night at dinner, Lockheart tries to test everyone again, but this infuriates Clark. She ends up cutting her hand and this ends it. The werewolf is back though. Lockheart uses the helicopter with Lodge. The problem is that Lodge is killed as well as Gray. Signs began to point that it was him, but with his death we know it couldn’t be.

Who is the werewolf? Will Lockheart be able to kill it?

I have to lead off stating that this film has a great concept. I love this being a film for the audience to participate to see if they can figure out who the werewolf is or not. This makes it almost like Clue. Cushing is really solid like usual. I also like the idea of Lockheart setting up all of this gear to track the werewolf. It is even better that the werewolf is smart enough to destroy everything so it can’t be used. This showed to me that the wolf is smarter than a normal animal.

My biggest issue with this film is kind of boring. I really wanted more. The film doesn’t really present a lot of information to try to decide who the werewolf is. There is an opening introduction from Lockheart and there a little bit of subtle things. I like this usually, but I feel the stuff they say doesn’t give much. I feel that it is pretty much a crap-shoot. I think it needed a bit more story to make this film a lot better. I also wasn’t a huge fan of Lockheart and how he played his character. He played this like a blaxploitation character and I feel it was out of place.

With that said, this film still isn’t that bad. It has a good concept, decent acting with an underrated performance by Cushing. The werewolf is played by a German shepherd, just dyed black. The film is a bit boring, but still fun to see if you can figure out who the werewolf is. This one has a lot of the violence off camera which helps with having a lower budget like that did. There is also a pretty good twist at the end that I liked, it throws off what you think is going on. Definitely enjoyable for at least a viewing, possible a second to see if the signs can be picked out after you know who the monster is. This is a different kind of detective film.


My Rating: 6 out of 10