- Apr 16, 2008
- Hawthorne, NV
- Real Name
- Todd Erwin
Peter Cushing plays Inspector Quennell, hot on the trail of a creature killing handsome young men in the Victorian English countryside in The Blood Beast Terror (released in the US as The Vampire-Beast Craves Blood), a silly, low-budget creature feature produced by Hammer-wanna-be Tigon-British Film Productions, and released on Blu-ray by Redemption Films (distributed by Kino Lorber).
Studio: Redemption Films (distributed by Kino Lorber)
US BD Release Date: July 17, 2012
Original Theatrical Release Year: 1968
Running Time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 (pillarboxed)
Audio:English (PCM 2.0 mono)
Movie: 3 out of 5
Success often breeds imitation. Hammer Studios was having great success with its horror films set in Victorian England, starring the likes of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Tony Tenser founded Tigon-British Film Productions in 1966, the bulk of the company’s output being horror films similar in theme and appearance as the more popular (and often much better) films produced at Hammer.
Peter Cushing, a familiar face from many Hammer productions, stars as Inspector Quenell who is investigating a rash of bizarre murders of handsome young men, many of whom were students of entomologist Dr. Carl Mallinger (Robert Flemyng), and apparently were attacked by some bird-like creature. Unbeknownst to the Inspector, Mallinger’s daughter Clare (Wanda Ventham) was apparently attracted to all of the murder victims. When a young, fellow entomologist is also found dead shortly after arriving in town from Africa, Dr. Mallinger and his daughter suddenly pack up their belongings and move to another town. But Inspector Quenell, with his young daughter in tow, follow them and ultimately discover their deep, dark secret: Dr. Mallinger has been breeding a humanoid-moth hybrid that thrives on human blood of the opposite sex, and his daughter Clare was his first success.
There are a number of things that really help elevate this movie out of the usual, low-budget exploitation creature feature. First and foremost is Peter Cushing’s performance (although he had at one time mentioned this was, perhaps, his worst film), providing enough wit to keep his character interesting. The production design is spot on for a period piece, nicely emulating the look of the Hammer films, with mostly realistic sets and excellent use of Victorian-style locations. Although Vernon Sewell’s direction can be plodding and uninspired throughout most of the film (one of the major weaknesses), his decision to keep screen time of the laughable creature as minimal as possible is a major benefit. However, this is a long 87 minutes, with many scenes added simply to pad the story out to as close to 5 reels as possible, including two overly long sequences, one involving the town mortician eating lunch in the morgue on a slab with a dead body, and the other a cheesy one-act play performed in Mallinger’s estate obviously inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. There also is no real tension or suspense, since we pretty much know who the culprits are before the end of the first reel.
Video: 3.5 out of 5
The liner notes state that the transfer was mastered in HD from the 35mm negative. The Blood Beast Terror has probably never looked this good. The film has been kept in remarkably good shape, with minimal dirt, hair, and other specks virtually non-existent (although there is one small piece of hair clearly visible at the bottom of the frame for one brief shot). Detail is quite good, with a few soft spots here and there, but overall you can clearly make out the textures in the period clothing. There is no hint of edge enhancement or grain reduction, and colors are, for the most part, accurate. I did find some issues with black levels during many of the night time exteriors, but that may have more to do with the source material than the actual transfer. The film is presented in 1080p/24 using the AVC codec, retaining the film’s intended 1.66:1 theatrical aspect ratio, and stored for your enjoyment on a BD25 disc.
Audio: 3.5 out of 5
The uncompressed PCM 2.0 mono soundtrack, at 1.5 Mbps, at times does its job too well, making the casual use of ADR much more obvious. Dialogue is clear, and the score by Paul Ferris sounds remarkably good. Overall, the track has excellent fidelity for a film of its vintage and budget.
Special Features: 2 out of 5
As with most Kino releases, we get the usual photo gallery of stills taken from the film’s publicity department. The only other feature is a selection of trailers that, thankfully, include The Blood Beast Terror, but appears to be several generations removed from the original. The other trailers include Burke & Hare, Killer’s Moon, Virgin Witch, and The Asphyx.
Overall: 3 out of 5
The Blood Beast Terror can’t be called a classic, but it is a mostly watchable film thanks to Peter Cushing and the film’s production design, as well as a very respectable transfer. Currently selling on Amazon for under $15, the film’s fans will be quite pleased.