Beast Must Die, The (1974 | Calvin Lockhart, Peter Cushing)

In an isolated country house, a group of guests discover that one of their party is a werewolf. Amicus horror picture starring the ubiquitous Peter Cushing.
It may not be the beast, but someone deserves to die for this lacklustre horror tale. Deviating from their usual omnibus collections, the Amicus studio tried its hand at a conventional horror film. They came up with a werewolf picture starring Calvin Lockhart as Tom Newcliffe, a hunter who collects together a group of guests in his country mansion. Convinced that one of them is a lycanthrope, Newcliffe rigs up the house with surveillance cameras in the hope of bagging himself a new trophy.
What little plot there is involves Newcliffe tracking the beast each night as it emerges to feed on the guests, while Peter Cushing’s werewolf expert babbles on about silver bullets, full moons and wolfsbane. The effects department were clearly limited by the lack of a budget since the film’s “wolf” is actually little more than a black dog dressed up to look vaguely menacing (perhaps if they’d been able to stop it from wagging its tail it might have proved more convincing). All of which leaves Lockhart little to do other than run around carrying a big gun while dressed in black leather as if, somewhere along the line, someone at the studio had decided to try and cash in on the blaxploitation trend.
A sure sign of desperation was the “Werewolf Break” employed by director Paul Annett in a vain attempt to keep the audience interested. At the beginning of the film we’re asked to pay particular attention to the clues that will follow about the werewolf’s identity. In the final reel, we’re given a 30-second break to discuss our deductions. A gimmick worthy of legendary American huckster William Castle, it did little to distract from the sound of the bottom of a barrel being noisily scraped. It’s enough to leave you howling. But not for more.

Calvin Lockhart as Tom Newcliffe
Peter Cushing as Dr. Christopher Lundgren
Marlene Clark as Caroline Newcliffe
Charles Gray as Bennington
Anton Diffring as Pavel
Ciaran Madden as Davina Gilmore
Tom Chadbon as Paul Foote
Michael Gambon as Jan Jarmokowski
Sam Mansary as Butler
Andrew Lodge as Pilot
Carl Bohen as 1st Hunter
Eric Carte as 2nd Hunter
Director: Paul Annett
Producers: John Dark , Milton Subotsky
Writers: James Blish, Michael Winder
Photographer: Jack Hildyard
Composer: Douglas Gamley
UK | 93 minutes | 1974