The Blood Beast Terror (1968 UK)

A Hammer imitation from Tony Tensor’s Tigon films, only made on a lower budget and with noticeably less enthusiasm, this is actually a lot more entertaining than it really ought to be. The film is obviously made on a lower budget than Hammer had to play around with at the time and this occasionally shows through, particularly in the creature’s costume. However, a fine British cast do the job and veteran director Vernon Sewell puts in a solid if unremarkable job. The script is literate, the locations good and the movie well-filmed. A load of old mothballs this may be, with too much dialogue, but I had low expectations beforehand.

The Blood Beast Terror manages to be atmospheric in places, especially in the woods at night, and its colourful and enjoyable to look at throughout with adequate production values. The saving grace of the film is Peter Cushing, who actually considered this his worst film, but then what would he have known? Cushing is typically cast as the detective who investigates the series of (surprisingly bloody for the time) crimes but unfortunately he doesn’t take much of a role in the action. Cushing fans will always remember his strenuous battles with Christopher Lee’s Dracula and his surprising agility and strength in the physical scenes in his films, but there’s none of that here. Cushing is excellent as usual in his part, investing Quennell with amusing mannerisms and typical quirkiness to make him an appealing character.

The film is rather episodic in nature, with lots of mini-climaxes before the ending, but thankfully its also rather short and doesn’t outstay its welcome. There’s a definite lull in the action about halfway through involving some amateur dramatics which seem to be out of place in this horror yarn, but otherwise its pretty solid. The scientific explanation behind the monster’s creation is very hazy and disguised with lots of paraphernalia and props to make it seem believable and it just about works. As for the creature, it appears laughable rather than scary, with red ping-pong ball eyes and a skin-tight costume with wings. But this adds to the unintentional humour rather than detracting too much from the flow of the movie.

Robert Flemyng is very good in his part as the disturbed doctor who eventually turns his back on his experiments and proves to be an adequate foil for Cushing’s hero. The female cast members take more prominent parts than usual, particularly Wanda Ventham as the young temptress. Vanessa Howard is nice and sweet playing Cushing’s daughter, but she is a bit underused and isn’t menaced enough, whilst Roy Hudd gives us some great macabre humour as a morgue assistant who has his lunch at the feet of a corpse (although I was distracted by the twitching feet). Altogether, the positive points of this film outweigh the bad and fans of British horror may find it quaint and enjoyable, although it definitely could have been spiced up a bit with more action and excitement. Just don’t get your hopes up and you may enjoy it.

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Comments

  1. I’ve got a soft spot for this film, a good (though not great) little chiller. Cushing, as always, is excellent.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree, Gary. These cosy low budget oldies make for a pleasant evening’s viewing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t heard of this film until now but it sounds very intriguing thanks to your review, it’s now another one on my to-watch list!

    Liked by 1 person

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