Most reviewers dismiss the 1968 horror movie The Blood Beast Terror as unremarkable at best, but I reckon there are at least six reasons why you might consider spending an hour and a half of your life on it.
1. Peter Cushing. The master of British horror (and more) brings his class and gravitas to this low-budget Tigon production in the role of Inspector Quinnell of Scotland Yard, investigating mysterious deaths in 19th century Sussex. Cushing was famously Sherlock Holmes on TV and in Hammer’s wonderful The Hound of The Baskervilles, and here he is suitably Holmesian, aided by his own Watson in Glyn Edwards as Sergeant Allan.
2. Wanda Ventham. The beautiful mum of TV’s contemporary Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch, is the female lead here, and supposedly did her own stunts! What a girl.
3. The title. The Blood Beast Terror – come on! You’d be hard-pressed to better that for a low-rent British shocker, but the US distributors may have achieved it with The Vampire-Beast Craves Blood.
4. The beast. I don’t want to give too much away here, but be prepared for a bloody great moth with big mothy wings, big mothy eyes, and a big mothy appetite for human blood.
5. Roy Hudd. The loveable comedian and writer makes a brilliant film début as a comic mortuary attendant, Smiler. If that seems odd in an otherwise straight-faced horror, think the Porter in Macbeth.
6. No fire. The standard way to end a period horror movie in the 1960s was for the big house or castle to burn down as an unconvincing miniature model, but not here. An oil lamp is tipped over in the climactic scene, and the audience thinks “here we go”, but good ol’ Segeant Allen stops to stamp out the fire – a neat gag and a way to save on visual effects.
Tempted? Well, at least spend two and half minutes on the trailer.
If you like this sort of thing, you may want to look at previous posts on Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, The Wolfman, and Bates Motel.
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