The 1960s and 70s saw two competing horror film studios in England. Hammer was known for epic period pieces like THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA (1973) and complex chillers like QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1967). Amicus, on the other hand, was the low budget stepbrother of Hammer, producing such flicks as TORTURE GARDEN (1967) and THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1971). When Hammer produced THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961) Amicus had to respond with THE BEAST MUST DIE (1974).
The movie opens with an announcement that one of the characters is a werewolf. The movie will have a “Werewolf Break” toward the end where you can stop and discuss your predictions.
Next we see a black man running though the woods, being pursued with gun toting white men. Everywhere he turns there are cameras in the trees and microphones in the ground. This intense cat and mouse game continues as men find him, point their guns, then let him go to be caught by others. Finally he makes it to a clearing where a garden party is going on. He stops and is immediately shot to the shock and horror of the guests.
The next shot is him getting up and brushing himself off. The bullets were blanks. That man is Tom, the owner of the estate. He was being pursued to test out the security system he had involved. The guests breathe a sigh of relief. That relief is short-lived until he calls them all together inside. Tom is an accomplished hunter, yet there is one game he has yet to get–a werewolf. That’s where the guests come in. One of them is a werewolf and by the end of the weekend he expects to discover who and kill them.
The next hour or so consists of people either being subjected to “tests” to check their humanity or falling victim to said werewolf. After an hour (and–be warned–a dead dog) we get to the promised “Werewolf Break”, followed by the expected shocking ending.
This movie has flaws. Lots of flaws. There’s no question as to whether the killer is supernatural or human because the first voiceover tells us. So much is built around the puzzle of which character is a monster that they don’t get fleshed out. The result is us not caring whether or not they live, die, or otherwise.
Amicus never had the biggest budgets to work with. I get the sense their budget went to the cast. I have to admit they got some of Britain’s greatest actors of the era: Peter Cushing, Michael Gambon, Charles Gray. Having spent all their cash on actors, they were left with precious little to do things like special effects or makeup. The upside is we are left with the most adorable werewolf to to be in a horror movie. It’s a German Shepard wearing a black lion’s made and it is unexpectedly cute.
Here it is. Have fun with it:
Question of the night: do your pets know any tricks?