WHEN THE MOON IS FULL
THE BEAST MUST DIE !
CAST: CALVIN LOCKHART - Tom Newcliffe, PETER CUSHING - Dr. Christopher Lundgren, CHARLES GRAY - Bennington, ANTON DIFFRING - Pavel, MARLENE CLARK - Caroline Newcliffe, CIARAN MADDEN - Davina Gilmore, TOM CHADBON - Paul Foote, MICHAEL GAMBON - Jan Jarmokowski, SAM MANSARAY - Butler, ANDREW LODGE - Pilot, CARL BOHUN - 1st Hunter, ERIC CARTE - 2nd Hunter
CALVIN LOCKHART: (Newcliffe, The Hunter). Bahamian-born Calvin first attracted the attention of moviegoers with a leading role in the popular "COTTON COMES TO HARLEM". Since then he has been seen in "LEO THE LAST", "HALLS OF ANGER", "MYRA BRECKINRIDGE" and "MELINDA", and has appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford. Though he received extensive training as an actor in classes at the Actor's Workshop, the Russian Arts Theatre in New York and with Uta Hagen, he was driving a taxi when "discovered" by playwright Ketti Frings who, impressed with his arrogance, got him a role on stage in Robert Rossen's "THE COOL WORLD". Soon after he played the role of the sailor lover on Broadway in "A TASTE OF HONEY" with Angela Lansbury. When not on location filming, he makes his home in Ghana.
PETER CUSHING: (Lundgren). His name now seems as synonymous with horror as those of Karloff and Lugosi, but Cushing also is a noted Shakespearean actor who has appeared with the Old Vic and in Sir Laurence Olivier's filmed "HAMLET". Born near London in 1913, he had a brief career in Hollywood in the pre World War II years (appearing in "THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK" and "VIGIL IN THE NIGHT") and toured America with the road company of "THE PETRIFIED FOREST". At the outbreak of war, he returned to England and slowly established himself as a actor on stage, screen, and television. He was reluctant to accept his first horror movie role, "THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN", in 1957 but found the experience rewarding and, to his eventual delight, the gentle Peter soon found himself becoming a leading figure of fright throughout the world. Cushing devoted much time to creating his characterization for this film as he has to classical roles. When Cushing appeared before the cameras in the Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotky production, he knew exactly how the character he was playing should look, behave, and think. He studied recordings to get the proper accent, selected a wardrobe appropriate to the role and directed the make-up man to supply the appropriate "werewolfy" look so that the character would be suspicious - but not too suspicious. Among his recent vehicles have been "THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD", "TALES FROM THE CRYPT", "ASYLUM" (all for Amicus Productions and Cinerama Releasing) and "MADHOUSE".
MARLENE CLARK: (Caroline). Former fashion model Marlene, a native New Yorker, made her acting debut on educational TV's "ON BEING BLACK" series and then appeared in a small role in Hal Ashby's "THE LANDLORD" with Beau Bridges. A number of television and movie roles followed with her appearance in "SLAUGHTER", opposite Jim Brown and Stella Stevens in 1971, she appeared on the brink of major stardom. A serious automobile accident brought a temporary halt to her career, however, and it was not until her roles as Ganja in "GANJA AND HESS" (recently shown at the Cannes Film Festival) and Cincerama Releasing's "THE BEAST MUST DIE" that Marlene's career resumed in high gear.
CHARLES GRAY: (Bennington). A former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Old Vic, Gray made his film debut in "THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS" and since then has appeared in important roles in "THE SECRET WAR OF HARRY FRIGG", "CROMWELL", and "YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE", among others.
ANTON DIFFRING: (Pavel). German born, but now making his home in London, Diffring has had major roles in more than 40 films and TV plays, with "THE BLUE MAX", "WHERE EAGLES DARE", and "FARENHEIT 451" among his more notable appearances.
PAUL ANNETT: (THE DIRECTOR). The London-born Annett first attracted the attention of producers Rosenberg and Subotsky with his writing and production of "THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN" television special, seen here on NBC in 1969. Since then he has been one of Britain's most in-demand television directors with series like "NEW SCOTLAND YARD" and "SUSPICION" to his credit. "THE BEAST MUST DIE" is his first feature film credit.
STORY: were' wolf (AS, wer, a man, and wulf, a wolf) in folklore, a person changed into a wolf, or one capable of assuming the form of a wolf at will. WEBSTER'S NEW TWENTIETH CENTURY DICTIONARY.
It is the first night of the full moon. Millionaire sportsman Tom Newcliffe (CALVIN LOCKHART) is readying the hunt for the biggest game of all. He has invited to his isolated mountain lodge an oddly assorted group of guests. Each has had prior connections with bizarre deaths or the eating of human flesh, and it is Newcliffe's belief that one among them - the one that will become the hunted - is about to become a blood-crazed werewolf. Which one?
Professor Christopher Lundgren (PETER CUSHING), an expert on wolves who knows more than seems humanly possible about the habits and customs of the legendary werewolf?
Bennington (CHARLES GRAY), a disgraced British diplomat whose aides have had a strange habit of mysteriously disappearing?
Pavel (ANTON DIFFRING), a sinisterly accented European from the country where the werewolf is said to have originated?
Paul Foote (TOM CHADBON), an artist and sadist with a talent for painting people just before they meet violent deaths?
Jan Jarmokowski (MICHAEL GAMBON), a concert pianist with a taste for raw human flesh?
Davina (CIARAN MADDEN), Jan's mistress who shares his strange appetites?
Caroline (MARLENE CLARK), Newcliffe's wife, a woman with abundant reasons for wanting her husband and his guests dead?
When an outbreak of violence occurs on the first night, Newcliffe informs his guests that they must remain throughout the cycle of the full moon. The servants have been dismissed, the phones disconnected. They are captives at the mercy of each other's beastliness.
As the horrors mount, Newcliffe begins to realize that he is a mortal pitted against powers beyond man's understanding...but he will not, can not stop the hunt. At the moment of the monstrously frightening denouement, "The Werewolf Break", a one minute pause, challenges viewers to detect with Newcliffe the identity of the beast that must die.
REVIEW: THE BEAST MUST DIE brings back a lot of fun-filled childhood memories for me. I saw the film a couple of times on television when I was younger and distinctly remember the first time having my eyes glued to the old TV set trying to figure out exactly who was the werewolf. Looking at the film now - frilly shirts, velvet jackets, sideburns, and a funky seventies music score - the film seems ludicrously outdated but I still forgive it for what it is. The film's prologue has a narrator explaining the "werewolf break" in which the film is stopped and the viewers have one minute to guess which of Newcliffe's guest is actually a werewolf. I didn't guess right as a kid - kept thinking it was Paul Foote - the artist who liked to eat human flesh. The 'guess the monster/killer/whatever' syndrome which the film uses was used a few other times, most notably in the 1980's film adaptation of the board game CLUE. The whole idea of someone inviting guests to a secluded mansion to try and figure out who is a werewolf was also blatantly ripped off in the low budget sequel - HOWLING V: THE REBIRTH (1989).
The film is graced by some excellent actors - most notably Peter Cushing, Anton Diffring (CIRCUS OF HORRORS, THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH), and Charles Gray (THE DEVIL RIDES OUT). Unfortunately none of them are given much to do - Diffring's scenes are confined to the video surveillance room where he tries to track the werewolf for Newcliffe, Gray just complains bitterly about being kept against his will and being accused of being a werewolf, and Cushing basically just gives detailed accounts of how to detect a werewolf - although he is given the most to do out of the three actors. Calvin Lockhart is a poor man's SHAFT, providing all the action for the film and most of the over-the-top acting. Amicus was probably hoping to strike gold again with another black actor as they did with William Marshall in BLACKULA.
The film unfortunately decides to cheap out on the actual werewolf - opting for a "wolf" instead of a "man-wolf". The viewer winds up waiting a good fifty minutes until they get to actually see the beast and then it looks like they borrowed the same German Shepard from Hammer's HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES. The film's pressbook states, "After weeks of deliberation, the producers cast "Sultan" - a specially trained Alsatian Wolfhound for the role and then outfitted him with fangs and goat's fur to make the transformation complete." Luckily the beast is only seen in short clips. When beast attacks the helicopter pilot it reminded me very much of one of the actors rolling around on the ground with another beast - a panther in the Donald Pleasance film NIGHT CREATURE. Both scenes were a mistake - the beasts both looked like they were playing with the actor.
With all this said I am still very glad IMAGE saw fit to release this film onto DVD for their EUROSHOCK COLLECTION (however there were some points I will make on this also). Watching the film on DVD brought me right back to childhood and while this time I already knew who was the werewolf, I still found myself enjoying the film. Cushing has a decent sized role and I recommend this DVD for any of his fans.
DVD REVIEW: Ah, where to begin - I think that IMAGE is unfortunately starting to get a little lazy with their DVD presentations. There were absolutely no extras on THE BEAST MUST DIE. While I do not expect a documentary of the making of the film, I do not think it would have been that hard or expensive to track down a theatrical trailer to accompany the film. At least the DVD cover features the US poster for the film - this is always a nice touch and I beg other companies to please to the same - do not hire some artist to "create" a cover for the film, posters are much cheaper to do and fans enjoy seeing them. The actual print of the film was definitely not restored - perhaps cleaned as the colors looked nice and bright. Unfortunately the opening of the film is covered with scratchy lines and dust specs which thankfully disappear when the "werewolf break" prologue begins. But then small dust specs do occasionally pop up now and then in the film. The sound is very good and much better than the old US VHS copy or my Lumiere copy from England. Finally (and a bonus for IMAGE on this DVD), the film is presented in it's original 1.66:1 theatrical aspect ratio.
SOURCES: US PRESSBOOK
(CLICK ON PICTURES TO VIEW THEM FULLY)