The Beast Must Die (1974)

PG | 93 mins | Horror | 24 April 1974

Director:

Paul Annett

Writer:

Michael Winder

Cinematographer:

Jack Hildyard

Editor:

Peter Tanner

Production Designer:

John Stoll

Production Company:

Amicus Productions, Ltd.
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HISTORY

The film opens with titles and voice-over narration that state: "This film is a detective story--in which you are the detective--The question is not 'Who is the murderer?'--But 'Who is the werewolf?' After all the clues have been shown--You will get a chance to give your answer." This is followed by voice-over only stating "Watch for the werewolf break."
       In his 24 Apr 1974 HR review, Alan R. Howard wrote, "A trashy, unnecessary gimmick has been added for the film's promotion . . . 15 minutes before the end the movie stops for 60 seconds as the audience is allowed to look at clips of all the possible werewolves. Such devices are generally used to hype hopless material. 'The Beast Must Die' could easily survive on its own merit."
       In a video taped interview with Paul Annett, included as an extra on the 2006 Dark Sky Films DVD release of the film, the director states that producer Max J. Rosenberg (13 Sep 1914 –14 Jun 2004) worked in the U. S. and was responsible for the financial side of the partnership, and producer Milton Subotsky (27 Sep 1921 – 27 Jun 1991) was a New York-born American who was based in London, UK, and "an Anglophile." Annett also stated that the notion of a "werewolf break" came as a surprise when he first saw the completed film, and that this was a gimmick added by Milton Subotsky in post-production. The Beast Must Die marked Paul Annett's feature film directing debut.
       According to a 10 Sep 1973 story in Box, the producers decided to change the title from The ...

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The film opens with titles and voice-over narration that state: "This film is a detective story--in which you are the detective--The question is not 'Who is the murderer?'--But 'Who is the werewolf?' After all the clues have been shown--You will get a chance to give your answer." This is followed by voice-over only stating "Watch for the werewolf break."
       In his 24 Apr 1974 HR review, Alan R. Howard wrote, "A trashy, unnecessary gimmick has been added for the film's promotion . . . 15 minutes before the end the movie stops for 60 seconds as the audience is allowed to look at clips of all the possible werewolves. Such devices are generally used to hype hopless material. 'The Beast Must Die' could easily survive on its own merit."
       In a video taped interview with Paul Annett, included as an extra on the 2006 Dark Sky Films DVD release of the film, the director states that producer Max J. Rosenberg (13 Sep 1914 –14 Jun 2004) worked in the U. S. and was responsible for the financial side of the partnership, and producer Milton Subotsky (27 Sep 1921 – 27 Jun 1991) was a New York-born American who was based in London, UK, and "an Anglophile." Annett also stated that the notion of a "werewolf break" came as a surprise when he first saw the completed film, and that this was a gimmick added by Milton Subotsky in post-production. The Beast Must Die marked Paul Annett's feature film directing debut.
       According to a 10 Sep 1973 story in Box, the producers decided to change the title from The Beast Must Die to Kill the Beast; however, a 19 Sep 1973 Box article noted that the producers had opted to return to the original title.
       Although the film is last listed in HR production charts in the 21 Dec 1973 issue, it is likely that principal photography was completed by early Sep 1973.

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PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Sep 1973
---
Box Office
17 Sep 1973
---
Box Office
6 May 1974
p. 4686
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 1973
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1973
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 1974
p. 3, 9
Variety
24 Apr 1974
p. 18, 22
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Amicus Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Chief elec
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd ed
Sd mixer
Dubbing mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Services by
Continuity
Casting dir
COLOR PERSONNEL
Colour by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the story "There Shall Be No Darkness" by James Blish, first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories (Apr 1950).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Black Werewolf
Kill the Beast
Release Date:
24 April 1974
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 24 Apr 1974, at Palace, World, Wiltern, and multiples
Production Date:
started 16 Jul 1973 at Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Middlesex, England
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Amicus Productions
5 December 1972
PA310570
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
93
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23810
SYNOPSIS

A black man in a form-fitting black outfit runs for his life in a high-tech chase to escape from a helicopter, hidden cameras and microphones planted in the woods, and a Range Rover filled with four uniformed, rifle-toting militiamen. Three times the prowlers catch up with the runner, and three times he is “killed,” but the victim is allowed to escape each time by the man who remotely monitors the pursuit, and the chase continues. Finally the black man reaches a country estate, where people are taking tea on the lawn. As the black man approaches the people of the house, the militiamen shoot him in the back and retreat to the woods as the shocked lawn party rush to his aid. It turns out, however, that the man being pursed is Tom Newcliffe, owner of the estate, and the monitor is Pavel, who is under Newciffe’s employ. The shots were merely blanks. Newcliffe is making plans to hunt the biggest game of all, and has gathered several guests at his estate with the intention of hunting what no man has ever hunted before. The guests include Bennington, a former United Nations delegate who, although exonerated, was suspected of killing two in his entourage; Jan, a concert pianist who left dead bodies wherever he once played; Davina Gilmore, a woman who has left a trail of gunshot victims wherever she has been a guest; Paul Foote, who was once sent to prison for eating human flesh; Dr. Christopher Lundgren, whose special field of interest is human flesh torn out and eaten. Newcliffe then informs his guests that one of them, sitting ...

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A black man in a form-fitting black outfit runs for his life in a high-tech chase to escape from a helicopter, hidden cameras and microphones planted in the woods, and a Range Rover filled with four uniformed, rifle-toting militiamen. Three times the prowlers catch up with the runner, and three times he is “killed,” but the victim is allowed to escape each time by the man who remotely monitors the pursuit, and the chase continues. Finally the black man reaches a country estate, where people are taking tea on the lawn. As the black man approaches the people of the house, the militiamen shoot him in the back and retreat to the woods as the shocked lawn party rush to his aid. It turns out, however, that the man being pursed is Tom Newcliffe, owner of the estate, and the monitor is Pavel, who is under Newciffe’s employ. The shots were merely blanks. Newcliffe is making plans to hunt the biggest game of all, and has gathered several guests at his estate with the intention of hunting what no man has ever hunted before. The guests include Bennington, a former United Nations delegate who, although exonerated, was suspected of killing two in his entourage; Jan, a concert pianist who left dead bodies wherever he once played; Davina Gilmore, a woman who has left a trail of gunshot victims wherever she has been a guest; Paul Foote, who was once sent to prison for eating human flesh; Dr. Christopher Lundgren, whose special field of interest is human flesh torn out and eaten. Newcliffe then informs his guests that one of them, sitting in the room, is a werewolf. When Jan attempts to leave the estate in his Mercedes Benz, Newcliffe follows in the Range Rover. Newcliffe stops Jan, and the would-be escapee asks if his host really believes that one of the guests is a werewolf. When Newcliffe responds affirmatively, Jan offers to remain at the estate if Newcliffe will let the others leave. At dinner, Newcastle puts his guests through the “candlestick game,” in which each of them must handle a silver candlestick from the dinner table—silver being fatal to werewolves. The guests all seem to handle the candlestick with no ill effects. Dr. Lundgren tells the other guests about the condition of being a werewolf, and reveals that at first the victim (for he believes the werewolf to be a victim) can transform from human to werewolf and back again at will, but gradually that ability diminishes and the werewolf will be overtaken by an insatiable desire to eat human flesh. The werewolf will also come to lose its human immune system and die. He goes on to say that there are several conditions necessary to trigger a werewolf reaction. First, there must be a full moon to release the lymphatic hormone; next the hormone must get into the blood stream and Wolf Bane pollen must be present to trigger an allergic reaction to permit this. Lundgren assures the guests they are in no danger as Wolf Bane does not grow in Britain; and it only blooms in the autumn. However, unbeknownst to the others, Newcliffe is growing Wolf Bane in a hot house on his estate. As Newcliffe goes to inspect his Wolf Bane plant, he hears a sound and goes to investigate. An unseen assailant lobs a hand axe at Newcliffe, but he manages to duck and is not hit. He chases his attacker to a barn, but after a short scuffle the attacker escapes. Back at the house, Paul Foote remarks to Dr. Lundgren that there is a full moon, and starts to suggest that it is a shame no one ordered Wolf Bane just as Newcliffe enters with a potted Wolf Bane plant in hand. He blows on the plant’s flowers to release Wolf Bane pollen into the air, and asks Lundgren how soon the allergic reaction might take to manifest itself. The doctor says he is not certain, but it will surely come in the three-day course of the full moon. Newcliffe informs his guests that he has sent the servants away and that from now on they will be alone. He asks his wife, Caroline, if she will be able to take care of the guests and she assures him that she will. When Newcliffe joins Pavel in the monitoring room, he discovers from looking at the video screens that two of his guests are missing. He locates Jan and Davina walking around the estate and, with the hidden microphones, he is able to listen in on their conversation. When they return to the others, Paul Foote expresses his desire to go upstairs to bed, and Dr. Lundgren cautions him to lock his door. When Foote reaches his room, he looks at the backs of his hands in the moonlight, and Newcastle orders Pavel to zoom the surveillance camera as close as it will go. As Foote undresses for bed, Newcliffe remarks that his back and hands are hairy—but he cannot recall if Foote’s hands were always hairy. He gets a rifle and ammunition belt from his gun case, settles into a chair to sleep, and orders Pavel to keep watch and let him know of anything unusual. Later that night, the perimeter alarm around the estate goes off, and Pavel alerts Newcliffe, who sets out in pursuit. Pavel guides Newcliffe to the target, and Newcliffe shoots when something jumps at him from the bushes; but apparently does not hit the target. The target returns toward the house. Newcliffe, convinced that the target is intent on shutting down the surveillance apparatus, warns Pavel to lock himself in or to put his hands on something silver. Pavel says he can do better and takes a pistol out of the gun cabinet. Through a skylight in the observation room, Pavel becomes aware of a wolf-like creature perched on the chimney above. He fires at the creature, but the animal leaps through the broken glass and attacks. Newcliffe returns to find Pavel mauled to death and the surveillance room heavily damaged. When the guests inquire about what has happened, Newcliffe tries to reassure them but when he notices that Paul Foote is not with the others, he heads to Foote’s room. Foote is found in his bed fast asleep as a result of taking sleeping pills. The next morning when Caroline asks on Davina’s behalf if she and Jan can leave, Newcliffe goes to Davina’s parked car and removes parts of the starter. As he continues around the estate, an unseen archer takes aim at him with a bow and arrow and fires. It turns out to be Paul Foote, quite drunk, and chugging on a bottle of wine. Newcliffe informs his guests that they must stay one more day at the estate, and he tries to discover the werewolf by passing near each of them with a silver candlestick to see who might react. Caroline berates him and tells her husband his blood lust has consumed him and that she no longer knows him. She smashes a glass on the table and cuts her hand. Later that night, Newcliffe arms himself and starts to repair his surveillance system. He hears a wolf howl, and takes off after the sound. When Caroline attempts to stop him, Newcliffe notices that Paul Foote is not with the others and sets off in pursuit in his helicopter. Newcliffe spies the wolf and starts shooting, but the animal evades the bullets and enters the barn. The helicopter sets down and Newcliffe goes into the barn. Caroline arrives with the Newcliffes' dog. The dog discovers the wolf and the animals fight. The wolf escapes, and the helicopter pilot attempts to shoot it, but is attacked by the animal. In his effort to get a clean shot at the wolf, Newcliffe misses and hits the helicopter, setting it on fire. The pilot is killed and the wolf escapes. The dog is injured, and Newcliffe sends Caroline and his guests away while he puts the animal out of its misery. Back at the house, Newcliffe confronts Paul Foote, asking where he was. Foote says he was out and saw Newcliffe shooting, but he can’t prove it. Jan was also out and then came back, but also can’t prove it. However, he mentions to Newcliffe that Bennington is not there with them at the moment. When Newcliffe enters Bennington’s room, however, he finds his guest has been killed by the werewolf. The next morning, Paul Foote attempts to escape on foot, but he is brought to bay by Newcliffe. At this point, the “Werewolf break” occurrs, allowing the audience 30 seconds to guess the identity of the monster—Paul Foote, Jan, Davina, Dr. Lundgren, or Caroline? One by one, Newcliffe confronts his remaining guests, handing them each a silver bullet to place in his or her mouth to determine which of them will die. Caroline, sad that her husband doubts her, takes her “pill” and turns out to be the werewolf. Newcliffe manages to shoot her when she attacks, but soon realizes that she was with him in the barn when the werewolf was there, and Dr. Lundgren tells him that a person attacked by a werewolf may herself become a werewolf. Newcliffe protests that Caroline wasn’t injured, but Lundgren points out that the open wound on her hand came in contact with the dog’s blood. Upstairs, Davina screams. When Newcliffe and Lundgren arrive on the scene they find her trembling over Paul Foote who has been killed by the werewolf. With one silver bullet left in his pistol, Newcliffe sets out after the monster. Newcliffe kills the real werewolf, which turns out to be Jan, however he himself is bitten in the process. Taking a rifle from Dr. Lundgren, Newcliffe goes into the house, cocks the gun, puts the barrel under his chin and pulls the trigger.

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GENRE
Genre:


Subject
Subject (Major):

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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