Release Date(s)1968 (November 22, 2022)
Studio(s)Tigon Film Distributors (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C+
The Blood Beast Terror (released in the US as The Vampire Beast Craves Blood) was a troubled production for Tigon British Film Productions, who are best known for producing Witchfinder General and The Blood on Satan’s Claw. Hiring Vernon Sewell, who also made Curse of the Crimson Altar for Tigon, as well as 1972’s Burke & Hare, the results were not satisfactory and the film was lengthened with extra scenes to pad it out to a more acceptable running time. Although the resultant film is less than stellar, it’s elevated by the presence of Peter Cushing, whom Tigon hired on several occasions.
During the nineteenth century, a series of murders are occurring in which the victims are torn open and drained of their blood, and the only surviving witness has seemingly gone mad, claiming that a horrible creature with wings is responsible. Investigating this is Inspector Quennell (Cushing) who pays a call on Dr. Carl Mallinger (Robert Flemyng), a professor of entomology. It soon becomes clear that Mallinger, along with his daughter Clare (Wanda Ventham), have something to do it since the latest victims were students of Mallinger’s. Quennell’s inquiries into the matter soon reveal the presence of a giant killer Deathshead moth, and that Mallinger and his daughter may be responsible for it.
Knowing that The Blood Beast Terror had extra scenes shot for it, it’s painfully obvious by the tonal inconsistencies and moments that have little to no bearing on the plot. Indeed, the entire prologue of a man searching for moth chrysalis pods gives you a sense that he will be a larger character in the overall story, but he’s in and out of the film so quickly once he re-appears that you’re left wondering why they even bothered. Not to mention the presence of Roy Hudd in two scenes as an uncredited morgue attendant, adding nothing of value, including his intended humor, which falls completely flat. No, the comedy in this film winds up being unintentional, particularly when the “were-moth” reveals itself. It’s also wall to wall with unnecessary dramatic music, which is usually in the background of scenes when it’s uncalled for. As such, The Blood Beast Terror is very clunky, but having another film with Peter Cushing in it is always a good thing. It may pale in comparison to most of his other horror ventures, but it’s not unwatchable.
The Blood Beast Terror was shot by cinematographer Stanley A. Long on 35 mm film with spherical lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.66:1. Kino Lorber re-releases their previous Blu-ray of the film, which was originally included as part of their Redemption line of titles in 2012, with the same 2K restoration of the original UK version. Though it shows its age, it’s still a healthy presentation with a consistently high bitrate. Grain is often heavy, but not always even. The elements used to restore the film were clearly in poor condition as evidence of tears, color breathing, and other damage is visible. Despite the repairs made to it, it’s not entirely wiped clean. Regardless, there’s good saturation to be found, especially in daytime shots, with nice flesh tones. Black levels occasionally show signs of crush, contrast is uneven in spots, and there are surprisingly high levels of shadow detail at times. Mild instability is the only other flaw of this organic, if imperfect, presentation.
Audio is included in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English SDH (the latter of which were not included on the Redemption release). At times, the soundtrack sounds as if it was pieced together from various elements as there are drops in treble and volume, but only mildly so. Minor hiss and sibilance are present, but the majority of the audio offers suitable support for both dialogue and the musical score.
The Blood Beast Terror on Blu-ray sits in a blue amaray case with a double-sided insert featuring artwork from two Italian theatrical release posters on either side. Everything sits in a slipcover featuring one of these artworks as well (which features a still of Christopher Lee from the poster for Horror of Dracula, though he’s not in the film). The following extras are included:
- Audio Commentary with Kim Newman and Stephen Jones
- Trailer (HD – 2:26)
- The Hound of the Baskervilles Trailer (SD – 2:10)
- Dr. Who and the Daleks Trailer (SD – 3:12)
- Madhouse Trailer (HD – 1:49)
- House of the Long Shadows Trailer (HD – 2:28)
- The Crimson Cult Trailer (HD – 2:04)
- Burke & Hare Trailer (HD – 3:10)
Despite the fact that this is essentially a reprint, the new audio commentary with authors and film historians Kim Newman and Stephen Jones adds some value. Their discussions on these films are always well worth your time, and this is no exception. They spend most of the commentary discussing the many films of the period in relation to this one, as well as details on the cast and crew, and offer valid criticisms of the film’s content. They seem to like the film despite its flaws and provide plenty of interesting information and context. Also included is the film’s trailer, as well as trailers for other related Kino Lorber Blu-ray titles. Their previous Redemption Blu-ray release contained a still gallery, which hasn’t carried over. Also not included from the UK Region B Odeon Entertainment Blu-ray release is an audio commentary with Jonathan Rigby and David Miller, as well as an interview with actress Wanda Ventham from 2005. It’s worth mentioning that the shorter US version of the film hasn’t been included on Blu-ray anywhere in the world as of yet.
Most of the Blu-ray releases of The Blood Beast Terror have long been out of print, so it’s nice for those who don’t have access to it the opportunity to pick it up. It’s not a definitive release, but it’s certainly worth it for Peter Cushing fans and horror fans alike.
- Tim Salmons