The Beast Must Die (1974) [31 Days of British Horror Review]

Hot on the heels of his “31 Days of Hammer” in January and the “31 Days of British Horror” in March , Jules is at it again in May, treating us to the continuation of his chronological run through the classic era of British Horror, from the late ’50s to the end of the ’70s, with one review every day for the entire month.

You can check out the rest of our “31 Days of British Horror” by CLICKING HERE.

Starring: Anton Diffring, Calvin Lockhart, Charles Gray, Michael Gambon, Peter Cushing
Director: Paul Annett

“This film is a detective story in which you are the detective.
The question is not ‘Who is the murderer?’…but ‘Who is the Werewolf ?’
After all the clues have been shown, you will get a chance to give your answer.
Watch for the Werewolf break…”

When it comes to whodunnits to be “inspired” by, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (a.k.a. Ten Little Indians) is the perfect choice. Pepper it with an exceptional cast of character actors, a pounding funk soundtrack and an actual Werewolf for a killer and you can’t go wrong really, can you?

Well… it would appear you can. Quite badly wrong. In fact, if the most memorable thing about a film with all those ingredients is the insane decision to have that “Werewolf break” shoehorned in (a conceit I do love to be fair) towards the end, something has went badly wrong, even if the central concept is brilliant.

Tom Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart) is a multi-millionaire who invites a group of people to his secluded stately mansion for a party with he and his wife (Marlene Clark). Once they all arrive, he reveals that one of them is a werewolf and nobody can leave until the creature has been identified and killed.

There’s plenty of suspects, like Charles Gray’s diplomat, an ex-con artist (Tom Chadbon) , a renowned pianist (Michael Gambon) and Professor Christopher Lundgren (Peter Cushing) an archaeologist who just happens to specialise in lycanthropy.

Newcliffe and Lundgren’s efforts to flush out the Werewolf are monitored by his chief of security Pavel (Anton Diffring), but with one clue after another leading to a red herring, who exactly is the Werewolf?

It sounds great doesn’t it? It’s just a shame that it’s much, much less than the sum of its parts. The low-budget doesn’t help. Even with some nice location work in and around the mansion and a reasonable eye for action, the decision to have the titular beast represented by a large dog (yes, really) renders the whole thing quite anticlimactic.

That strong cast all pull off their roles as well as you would expect, but the whole thing is just so dreary and lacking any real drama that it’s hard to ever properly engage with it.

The Werewolf break, silly as it is, puts a bit of spark into the proceedings, but even a major piece of wrong footing in the final act just elicits groans as you realise it’s not over yet.

A whodunnit with a werewolf as the killer should be riveting, but sadly The Beast Must Die is anything but.

Rating: 1.5/5.

JULESAVThe Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy

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