“On safari or in the board room it’s all the same. I go after what I want.”
Tom Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart) is a millionaire. He is also a big game hunter. He has invited a group of people to spend some time in his rural English mansion. His wife is Caroline Newcliffe (Marlene Clark). Each of his guests is there because they have had horrific deaths associated with them in one way or another. He believes that one of them is a werewolf. The purpose of this get together is to determine who the werewolf is and to kill it.
The suspects are: A diplomat, Arthur Bennington (Charles Gray). A pianist and his ex-student now wife, Jan and Davina Gilmore (Michael Gambon and Ciaran Madden). An artist that has recently been released from prison, Paul Foote (Tom Chadbon). And an archaeologist and werewolf expert, Professor Lundgren (Peter Cushing).
Newcliffe plans on submitting everyone to several tests that are designed to ferret out the werewolf. He has also wired his mansion and the grounds around it with a state of the art surveillance system. Everything is overseen in a control room by Newcliffe’s associate Pavel (Anton Diffring).
In order to flush out the werewolf Newcliffe has devised certain tests and/or conditions. These include a full moon, pollen present in the air from a wolfsbane flower and holding a silver object. All of which do nothing. Later that same night, Pavel is killed by the werewolf. His throat torn out. Now Newcliffe is doubly obsessed. The next night it kills Newcliffe’s helicopter pilot and Caroline's dog. Then he find’s Arthur Bennington dead in his room. Suspects are dropping fast.
“The Beast Must Die” was released in 1974 and was directed by Paul Annett. This is a weird one. It’s a detective story, but with a werewolf instead of a regular killer. There is also blaxploitation tossed in. Add to it that it was made in the 70’s so the music score is a little on the funky side. A little dated perhaps, unless you like funk. It’s a little reminiscent of “Starsky & Hutch” or “Charlie’s Angels”. The part of the werewolf was played by a black German Shepard. This is the first movie in which a dog actually tackles and fights a werewolf. Although the werewolf wins. This would normally be your average werewolf movie except for the “werewolf break”. The film stops. A narrator asks the question, “Have you guessed who the werewolf is?” He gives you sixty seconds to come up with your guess. A clock ticks down the seconds. Then the film resumes. It’s silly but this odd little quirk adds an Agatha Christy effect to the movie. It’s part of the fun.
As far a werewolf movies go, there isn’t much there. Since the werewolf is a dog you don’t have a lot of fancy make-up or a lot of time lapse transition scenes. However, as far as entertaining movies go, it was a lot better than I thought it would be. The end was quite satisfying. It’s also good if you like Peter Cushing, blaxploitation movies, 70’s vintage movies, or kitchy little gimmicks.