Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 7th, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: UK, 1974
Director: Paul Annett
Writers: James Blish, Michael Winder
Cast: Peter Cushing, Calvin Lockhart, Marlene Clark, Anton Diffring, Charles Gray
DVD released: July 25th, 2006
Approximate running time: 92 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital mono
DVD Release: Dark Sky Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
A wealthy big game hunter Tom Newcliffe invites five people to his home which is located on a remote island. Shortly after their arrival he tells them that the reason why he brought them here was because of them is a werewolf. Tom slowly losses touch with reality as he tracks the ever elusive werewolf. One by one the guests start to die with those left alive desperate to escape with their lives. Is one of the guests the werewolf Tom has been tracking or has he lost his mind?
The Beast Must Die is best described as thriller in which the character Tom Newcliffe must deduct like Sherlock Holmes who the killer/werewolf is? The film was directed by first time director Paul Annett who had previously worked in television and documentaries. Annett’s direction is tight as he always keeps close to the action. The films elaborate opening sequence where Tom Newcliffe is being chased by four big game hunters is the most impressive and tense part of the film. Unfortunately the rest of the film is on a downward slide. The werewolf scenes are poorly done and at times downright comical.
The acting ranges from good to adequate despite such as shoddy and improbable plot. The one stand out performance is that of actor Calvin Lockhart as Tom Newcliffe. His intense and often moody performance draws you in and almost makes you forgive the plots many flaws. Douglas Gamley supplies another memorable score that includes a theme song that is oddly reminiscent of the theme from Shaft. This film also comes with one of cinema’s more unique gimmicks. Near the end of the films the movies stops and asks the viewer who they think the killer is before ultimately revealing the real killers identity.
Overall the Beast Must Die is not that good of a film and its budget does bear some of this burden.
The Beast Must Die is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Colors are vivid and black levels remain solid through out. Outside of noticeable grain this transfer is in great shape.
This release comes with one audio option the films original English language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any other sounds defects. The dialog is clear and the music and effects sound evenly balanced. Removable subtitles have also been included.
Extras include trailers for The Beast Must Die, And Now the Screaming Starts and Asylum, a still gallery, text bios for cast and crew members. Other extras include the thirteen minute documentary titled “Directing the Beast” which includes an interview with director Paul Annett. The final extra include for this release is an audio commentary with Paul Annett (director) and this track is moderated by Jonathan Sothcott. On both of these extras director Paul Annett’s memory is sharp as he remembers every last detail about making “The Beast Must Die”. This release also comes with a DVD insert that includes liner notes about The Beast Must Die written by Chris Gullo and a Peter Cushing tribute that was written by Paul Annett.
The Beast Must Die had been previous released in the region 1 via Image Entertainment and in the UK as part of Anchor Bay’s Amicus collection. Dark Sky Films release ports over all the extras included from the UK release for this DVD. Dark Sky Films gives another one of Amicus’s films a first rate DVD release in region 1.
For more information about The Beast Must Die and other Amicus titles released by Dark Sky Films visit their website.