The Beast Must Die


“This film is a detective story,” intones the voice-over at the beginning of The Beast Must Die, “in which you are the detective. The question is not, who is the murderer but who is the werewolf? After all the clues have been shown you will get a chance to give your answer … Watch for the werewolf break.”

The alternate version released as Black Werewolf omitted the werewolf break, with little or no impact on either the plot or the strangely syncretic register of this Horror in SF, a movie that combines the set-up from Agatha Christie‘s Ten Little Niggers (1939; rev vt And Then There Were None 1940) with the action from Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” (January 1924 Collier’s Weekly), itself subsequently adapted into the film The Most Dangerous Game (1932). Director Paul Arnett disagreed with producer Milton Subotsky about the addition of the gimmick but those that enjoy The Beast Must Die as a piece of period kitsch – there are overtones too of Blaxploitation in the soundtrack and casting, of early 1970s Television thrillers in the helicopter pursuits and estate-wide surveillance Technology, and of the more strained efforts of Hammer Film Productions to diversify in the film’s somewhat ham-fisted attempts at Equipoise – now seem to regard the interpolation of the werewolf break as delightfully reminiscent of a bygone era.

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