Six young men have been brutally murdered, their throats torn to ribbons and drained of all blood. The sole witness has been consigned to a lunatic asylum, raving about something terrible with gigantic wings... Suspecting that some sort of giant bird of prey may be loose, Inspector Quennell (Peter Cushing) turns to local zoologist Dr. Mallinger (Robert Flemyng) and his beautiful daughter Clare (Wanda Ventham) for help in solving the case. But Mallinger has terrible secrets all of his own - secrets that may soon endanger both Quennell and his innocent young daughter Meg (Vanessa Howard)...
Bug Eyed Monsters!
- The Blood Beast Terror review by Count Otto Black
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You may have noticed that, unlike most films of this type from this era, the title of this one doesn't make it clear exactly what kind of monster we can expect to be thrilled and terrified by. Perhaps they were afraid that if they called it something like "The Horror Of The Were-Moth", potential viewers would find the concept too silly for words and not bother to go and see it. Which begs the question of why anybody ever thought a movie about a were-moth would be a good idea.
This is basically an inferior remake of Hammer's "The Reptile" from 1966. However, in that film, the title character transforms into a snake-woman with venomous fangs, which makes her a serious if somewhat unlikely threat. Here, the lady turns into a very large moth. What's she going to do - suck all the nectar out of your flowers? Ah, but wait - she's a vampire, just like real moths... aren't. So what it comes down to is, the titular "blood beast" has to behave entirely unlike the creature it's supposed to be, otherwise it would be completely harmless, and the movie would be completely pointless. They haven't thought this through, have they?
The best way to appreciate a movie which Peter Cushing reckoned was the worst film he ever made is to view it as an unintentional comedy, and giggle as the scriptwriters get into an ever more hopeless tangle. Watch how they try to keep the embarrassingly unconvincing monster (which looks rather like that creepy rabbit in "Donnie Darko") off-screen for as long as possible by having the police believe the as yet unseen killer to be an escaped eagle, then showing us a ferocious eagle which, by an amazing coincidence, one of the characters keeps as a pet for no reason at all. And then watch how, less than a minute after they've introduced this extremely contrived red herring, it's revealed to be totally irrelevant.
Marvel as the cops solemnly tell each other that a freshly-murdered corpse in the cupboard and several skeletons in the cellar aren't sufficient grounds to issue an arrest warrant because the budget doesn't run to hiring enough extras in Victorian police uniforms to stage a full-scale raid! Gasp as the dim-witted waste-of-space heroine wanders into what's supposed to be awful danger, at which point the writers remember that the monster only attacks men, so the poor girl has no alternative but to stun herself by mistake and accidentally set fire to the carpet! And scratch your head in bewilderment as they clean forget to explain how the hell mothwoman got to be that way in the first place!
It's an abysmal movie, but it's perversely enjoyable in an Ed Wood sort of way. Peter Cushing is excellent because he nearly always was. Almost everybody else hams it up with varying degrees of enthusiasm and success. And Roy Hudd as a wacky morgue attendant seems to have wandered into the wrong studio, because he obviously thinks he's in "Carry On Screaming". Actually he's not far wrong.
Spoilers follow ...
- The Blood Beast Terror review by NP
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You rated this film: 2
This film is flatly directed by veteran Vernon Sewell, and involves a mysterious creature stalking the British countryside relieving local youths of their blood.
Robert Flemyng plays entomology professor Dr. Carl Mallinger in a role originally designed for Basil Rathbone, who sadly died before shooting began. His daughter Claire is persuasively played by Wanda Ventham. Peter Cushing stars as the perpetually chewing Detective Inspector Quennell with a subtle edginess compared to his usual genial performances. As the undertaker, Roy Hudd appears in the kind of role Miles Malleson might have essayed ten years earlier, endlessly making puns about corpses etc. Vanessa Howard plays Meg, Quennell’s daughter; in one of those bizarre decisions typical of films made at this time, her voice is dubbed, very badly, by an artiste who sounds a great deal younger than the character. This practice has always baffled me – why take the time to hire an actor only to rob them of one of their most important hallmarks, their voice? Glynn Edwards, most famous for his role in television’s ‘Minder’ is Sgt Allan (one of this film’s highlights is the occasional banter between Allan and Quennell, apparently suggested by Cushing) while veteran Kevin Stoney plays Mallinger’s scarred retainer Granger.
The cast are capable, but the film plods and seems to last longer than its 88 minutes - there are various reports that both Flemyng and Cushing were not happy throughout. In the opening scene, which the film didn’t need to show as events are recounted later anyway, Africa is represented by a muddy English river and forest with ill-matching stock footage of wildlife inserted (including a Central American Macaw!). There is an initially amusing amateur dramatics play performed that serves no real purpose, but seems to drag, for example, and far too much time is spent with minutiae at a time when the story could really do with building up some sort of tension.
The Blood Beast responsible for the film’s alleged Terror is a human sized death’s head moth, Claire’s alter ego. Impractically, to commit the various murders, Claire would have to transform from fully clothed and exquisitely made-up into the creature, and back again, from one scene to the next. The creature’s eventual destruction is very badly conveyed, but at least it brings proceedings to an end, dispelling a growing feeling that the film was going to last forever.