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I fondly remember going to see THE BEAST MUST DIE ($20) during a Saturday afternoon matinee during my misspent youth. Perhaps I remember the movie so well and so fondly because of its gimmick- I know THE BEAST MUST DIE as the movie with The Werewolf Break, which has remained stuck in my head for over three decades. As for The Werewolf Break itself, this gimmick came at a critical juncture, which allowed the audience to guess the identity of the filmís werewolf. For the gimmick alone, THE BEAST MUST DIE remains something of a howl (pardon the pun), as one gets to play along with the filmís mystery formula, while at the same time, enjoying a bit of horror fun. Sure, this Amicus production is decidedly low rent, but THE BEAST MUST DIE has some nice bits of action, mild gore and a terrific cast, which makes the entire enterprise quite pleasurable. The only disappointing thing about is the actual werewolf himself, who looks more like the family dog outfitted with cheap hair appliances, instead of a werewolf or a real wolf.

THE BEAST MUST DIE stars Calvin Lockhart as eccentric millionaire Tom Newcliffe, who invites a number of guests to his isolated estate and announces that one of them is a werewolf. Of course, each of them has a skeleton in his or her closet that makes them seem a potential werewolf, but only one of them is the real deal. And of course, as the title of the film implies, said host of this little soiree intends to hunt and kill the werewolf, that is if the beast doesnít kill him and the other houseguests first. The cast of THE BEAST MUST DIE also includes Peter Cushing as werewolf expert Dr. Christopher Lundgren, Marlene Clark as our exocentric millionaireís wife Caroline, Anton Diffring as security system designer Pavel, Charles Gray as ex-diplomat Arthur Bennington, Tom Chadbon as former medical student Paul Foote, Michael Gambon as concert pianist Jan Jarmokowski and Ciaran Madden as the pianistís lover Davina Gilmore.

Dark Sky Films has made THE BEAST MUST DIE available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. THE BEAST MUST DIE is a modestly budgeted film from the early 1970s and looks exactly as one would expect. The levels of sharpness and detail are good, but not great, with medium to long shots appearing softer than close-ups. Colors are respectable, but can be a little inconsistent, appearing reasonably well saturated in some places and a little drab in others. Blacks are accurately rendered, as are the whites. Contrast is acceptable, but shadow detail can be a tad muddy. Film grain is quite evident, but the elements themselves are free from significant age related flaws. Digital compression artifacts are well contained.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is pretty good. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the track with a very respectable sonic quality. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and easy to understand, Fidelity is decidedly limited, with the music sounding somewhat brittle, but it doesnít compromise oneís enjoyment of the proceedings. No other language tracks are offered, nor are any subtitles present.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few choice extras. Starting things off is a running audio commentary by director Paul Arnett. Directing The Beast is a twelve-minute interview, which again features director Paul Arnett. A Photo Gallery, plus a Theatrical Trailer for THE BEAST MUST DIE, as well as, other Amicus titles AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS and ASYLUM close out the extras.

THE BEAST MUST DIE is a reasonably enjoyable whodunit come horror movie, with an amusing gimmick. Dark Skyís presentation isnít going to win any awards, but then again, itís not like they could overcome the limitations in the filmís original production budget and turn what amounts to a sowís ear of film elements into a silk purse. Personally, I found the presentation more than acceptable, as will the majority of Amicus fans.



The Beast Must Die (1974)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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