The Beast Must Die (1974)

beast must die poster 1974 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 6/10

Interesting story and cast

Not very visual

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Beast Must Die

Studio: Amicus Productions

Genre(s): Horror/Mystery/Suspense/B-Movie

Release Date(s): April 1974

MPAA Rating: PG

beast must die dinner cast review

One of you runs on all fours…

Tom Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart) has invited a unique group to his isolated mansion.  Dr. Christopher Lundgren (Peter Cushing), Bennington (Charles Gray), Davina (Ciaran Madden), Paul Foote (Tom Chadbon), and Jan (Michael Gambon) don’t know why there are there.  When Newcliffe that they aren’t allowed to leave, he tells them a secret.  Someone at the house is a werewolf.  The full moon is rising and everyone is a suspect…even Newcliffe’s wife Caroline (Marlene Clark).  Newcliffe intends to find the werewolf and kill it…if it doesn’t kill him first!

Directed by Paul Annett, The Beast Must Die is a horror mystery.  It is based on the short story “There Shall Be No Darkness” by James Blish which was published in Thrilling Wonder Stories (April 1950).  The film was also released as Black Werewolf without the “Werewolf Break” included.  It was met with average to positive reviews and has gained a cult following.

beast must die werewolf break michael gambon

It’s the Werewolf Break…Do you know the Werewolf?

I love werewolf movies (werewolves were one of my childhood fears), and The Beast Must Die is truly a different type of werewolf movie.  It plays up the mystery of the film and feels more gothic than much of the horror being made at the time.  The Beast Must Die is a fun little who-is-it instead of a whodunit.

The movie is kind of a mash-up of Silver Bullet meets Ten Little Indians meets The Most Dangerous Game.  Like Silver Bullet (which was released over a decade later), the movie has the viewer trying to deduce who the werewolf is while throwing out red herrings.  There are the obvious suspects, the tests are fallible, and a switch ending…it is clever at many points though not particularly horrific.

The cast is like a typical mystery set-up.  Everyone in the group has secrets and some of those secrets are deadly.  I like the over-the-top nature of Calvin Lockhart, but he is rivaled by the crazy Tom Chadbon.  Peter Cushing seems like an unlikely suspect most of the film and is just there to give werewolf facts.  I wish Charles Gray had gotten more of a role since the camp style of the movie fits him and I like how Marlene Clark’s character develops.  Now, I can only watch Michael Gambon and think “Dumbledore”…or in this case young Dumbledore.

beast must die werewolf wolf ending

Hey, shoot this wolf quick…we only have him on loan for a couple hours

The movie isn’t very visually compelling.  The werewolf is more of a classic werewolf in the form of a wolf (and not a wolfman) and you only see it in glimpses.  The “Werewolf Break” is fun and gimmicky, and I do like the skill of the set-up of suspense in the scene after the werewolf break.

If you are a fan of classic horror movies, The Beast Must Die seems to fit better into the classic horror than it does into 1974 horror.  It is moody, wordy, and atmospheric more than anything.  I could see a modern version of this film with of course more gore, more horror, and more werewolf…it probably wouldn’t match the interesting nature of this movie, but I’d welcome it.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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