From the film’s IMDB.com citation:
“A scientist, working with genetics, creates a creature that is capable of transforming back and forth between a giant Death Head mother and a beautiful woman. The creature masquerades as his daughter when she is in human incarnation and feeds on the blood of her victims when she is in moth form.”
There’s an unevenness to Peter Bryan’s script for The Blood Beast Terror that could’ve been overcome perhaps with smarter direction from the late Vernon Sewell with some greater time and effort, but – alas – I’m thinking this one just wasn’t quite meant to be. Others might dismiss the construct as more charming than anything else, but – for me – when you introduce real science to any motion picture then it should be incumbent upon the storyteller to – first and foremost – continue to seek out real world plausibility for the events and circumstances as they unfold. Alas, Terror eventually goes more in the direction of pure cinematic Fantasy, and I think it’s a weaker picture because of those creative choices.
Yes, yes, yes: I hear you shouting from your devices. “But it’s a monster movie!” Of course, it is, and – on that front – I supposed it’s comparably as interesting as any other entry from the late 1960’s. My reservation, however, is that the film’s revered Dr. Mallinger (played by Robert Flemyng) spends a wealth of his scenes involved with the study of insects, giving the story a loose authenticity, which occasionally elevates the narrative beyond the typical flick. Had a bit more time, thought, and effort been exercised here, then Terror might’ve been a contender – one of those rare instances wherein the end product rises above the more casual attempts – and establishes its own relevance, defies the odds, and maybe even achieves cult status. But as is? There’s a whole lot of ‘meh’ in there, folks.
While I’ll agree that – for fans of a certain age – it’s always great to watch Peter Cushing do his thing (especially in Horror), his Inspector Quennell never quite evolves to the point wherein the character benefits from Cushing’s pedigree, and that also spoils the picture for me. Wanda Ventham – perhaps more famous these days for being the biological mother of Benedict Cumberbatch, if the Information Superhighway is any legitimate barometer of fame – has a few good moments, but not even her beauty can help the color-by-numbers production achieve any legitimate momentum. Dare I suggest that the film is even occasionally a bit of slog with sequences that last more than a few seconds after their usefulness? Why, it’s almost as if director Sewell and his cast of players set out with the intention of destroying any serviceable pace, and everyone behind the scenes was too frightened to yell ‘cut!’
It’s a shame that even in a picture with its name in the title that a monster can’t even score quality screen time.
The Blood Beast Terror (1968) was produced by Tigon British Film Productions. DVD distribution (for this particular release) is being coordinated by the good folks at Kino Lorber. As for the technical specifications? Well … though I’m no trained video expert, I had some quibbles with this 2012 2K restoration. While I found the picture to be quite good consistently, the soundtrack – especially sequences of dialogue throughout the middle – was a bit muddled in places. Others might not find it as distracting as I did (such is life), but I felt it was definitely worth mentioning. (Buyer beware.) Lastly, if you’re looking for special features, the disc boasts an all-new commentary track from critic Kim Newman and writer Stephen Jones. At best, it’s a ‘polite’ collection but nothing grand.
Mildly recommended. So far as this monster movie junkie is concerned, The Blood Beast Terror (1968) offers up only passable thrills and chills, and that’s mostly owed to Peter Bryan’s half-baked screenplay really only dabbling at establishing the scientific background for this particular filmed universe. When elements are only half-explained, viewers are left with either filling the blanks on their own (never a good practice) or just ‘going with the flow’ (the more likely scenario), and the end result leaves me with more questions than I ever want to have in digesting a palatable 90 minutes. That and Vernon Sewell’s uninspired direction make this one, largely, forgettable.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Kino Lorber provided me with a complimentary Blu-ray of The Blood Beast Terror by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.