Well, it was bound to happen. I'm not totally in love with the third DVD in the Amicus Collection, though I really, truly want to be. I don't know...on paper, The Beast Must Die (1974) has an awful lot going for it, but in the end the execution left me going "Mehhhhhh."
Tom Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart) is a wealthy hunting enthusiast who's rigged his expansive estate with all manner of cameras, microphones, and security measures. He invites 6 strangers to his home...one of whom is a werewolf! Or maybe it's Newcliffe himself! Or his wife! Egah! Newcliffe is determined to figure out who is really a beast so he can pump him or her full of silver bullets and prove his worth. It's the most dangerous game, man...you know, just like The Most Dangerous Game! But with a werewolf!
Basically, everyone sort of sits around while Newcliffe accuses them all: "Maybe you're a werewolf!" "It has to be you!" "Was his hand that hairy yesterday?" and so on. Finally the moon turns full and a werewolf does indeed show up...or rather, a German Shepherd in a shag rug-cum-wig shows up.
People start dying, people die, you find out who the werewolf is, the end.
There are some novel touches that, as I said, make The Beast Must Die look like schlocky fun in theory- most notably, the William Castle-style "You, the viewer, are the detective!", including the infamous "Werewolf Break" gimmick. At the 1:20 mark, a narrator informs us that it's time for the "Werewolf Break"; the films stops, and the audience is given 30 seconds to guess who the lycanthrope is. It's silly, hokey, and awesome.
I miss the sort of "interactivity" found in some older horror films- the handing out of barf bags and "insurance policies" at theatres, and as I mentioned, all of Castle's crazy efforts. They were fun and exciting, if completely cheesy in the end.
Despite the Werewolf Break and the super '70s 'wah wah' guitar music throughout, this Ten Little Indians wannabe falls flat for me. It's overly talkative and repetitive, and the action isn't terribly horrifying or action-packed. Even the mystery isn't so mystifying- guessing one culprit is as good as guessing another, and I wasn't overly convinced it was any of them. The acting, for the most part, is serviceable, though Peter Cushing is utterly wasted in a small role and Calvin Lockhart's 'Grey Poupon' accent was an unintentional source of amusement.
Maybe The Beast Must Die would be more fun at the drive-in or something. Or maybe I was just cranky. If I was, it was probably because of something you did!