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Blood Beast Terror [Blu-ray] [Import anglais]
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Peter Cushing (Dracula, Star Wars)and Wanda Ventham (U F.O, The Lotus Eaters.) star in this spine chilling 1968 British horror classic, directed by Vernon Sewell (Curse Of The Crimson Altar, Burke & Hare). Six young men have been brutally murdered, their throats torn to ribbons and drained of all blood. The sole witness has been consigned to a lunatic asylum, raving about something terrible with gigantic wings... Suspecting that some sort of giant bird of prey may be loose, Inspector Quennell (Peter Cushing) turns to local zoologist Dr. Mallinger (Robert Flemyng) and his beautiful daughter Clare (Wanda Ventham) for help in solving the case. But Mallinger has terrible secrets all of his own secrets that may soon endanger both Quennell and his innocent young daughter Meg (Vanessa Howard)...With a chillingly inventive script by Hammer s Peter Bryan (The Plague Of The Zombies, The Hound Of The Baskervilles), this acclaimed Tigon British production has been extensively digitally remastered and restored for its first-ever Blu-Ray release. Brand New 2K Restoration at BBC Post Production and Studios from the original 35mm Interpostive | Remastered Uncompressed Original Mono Soundtrack | Audio Commentary by 'English Gothic' author Jonathan Rigby and Peter Cushing biographer David Miller | Interview with Wanda Ventham | Theatrical Trailer | Stills Gallery.
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The picture quality of the DVD is fairly good, and the sound is fine. It is presented in letterbox, which is much more pleasing to view then the Pan-and-Scan vhs copy that I first saw this picture on. The setting is Victorian, and having a British cast, the performances are believable and elegant (even if swallowing the idea of a giant Deaths-Head moth makes you gag a little). If your after a film of the quality of "Horror of Dracula", or "Curse of Frankenstein", then don't bother. But if your a die-hard Peter Cushing fan, like I am, you'll probably enjoy this movie, as I do. There's not much suspense, but there is plenty of dry British humor, and some fine performances. Just don't expect to be dazzled by the special effects. Think of it as Sherlock Holms meets Gozilla, and you'll do fine.
And the color!! Deeply saturated and vivid, with natural fleshtones and a gorgeous palette of reds, greens, lavenders, and yellows that pop off the screen. It seriously looks like it could have been shot just a few years ago. Not exactly reference quality, but damn near. And if you haven't upgraded to Blu-ray yet, I'm sure the Redemption DVD will still put the Image disc to shame. Cueing up and comparing the two directly made me want to just throw the Image DVD in the trash (though I'll probably give it to someone instead). It's a murky, blurry, speckly, nearly monochromatic mess compared to the Redemption remaster.
And to top off the fabulous transfer, the movie is the uncut British version, running seven minutes and change longer than the Image disc (which was apparently edited for time, not naughty bits or anything like that, sorry) even though they both have the British title and credits at the beginning. Plus, you get trailers for BBT and four other Redemption titles (Virgin Witch, Killer's Moon, Burke and Hare, and The Asphyx) and a modest still gallery.
OK, so it's not the best British horror movie ever made (really more of a mystery with fantastic elements than horror), but Peter Cushing, as always, lends it some class and respectability, and in my book, the rather far-out concept gets a few points for originality, if nothing else. It's not nearly as bad as its reputation either. It's moderately entertaining, especially with the superior picture quality of the remaster, and though Cushing considered it his least favorite film, I've seen him in worse (The Devil's Men/Land of the Minotaur, Blood Suckers, Satanic Rites of Dracula, and The Beast Must Die spring to mind). My biggest complaint with BBT is that the truth behind the mystery is telegraphed way too early in the film, almost from the first scene, essentially destroying any suspense or tension that might have been built up. Bottom line: If you want this movie in your collection for whatever reason, skip the Image release (or dump it if you already have it) and get the Redemption Blu-ray or DVD. I guarantee you won't be disappointed (in the transfer anyway).
5 stars for the total package, 3 stars for the movie = 4 stars overall.
Despite this films quite sensational title, the storyline once you get past the idea of the Giant Moth Creature, is actually an evenly paced mystery drama that takes its time to reveal all the secrets of what is occuring. Along the way we are treated to a very handsomely constructed film set in Victorian times, the usual favourite time period for these British Horror efforts. Peter Cushing plays Inspector Quennell who is investigating a series of ghastly murders where the victims are found drained of their blood and savagely marked with horrific wounds that seem to have been inflicted by some strange undefinable animal. Finding at the site of the latest murder some strange scaley scraps off some type of insect or reptile Inspector Quennell begins to have his suspicions in particular of expert entomologist Dr. Mallinger (Robert Flemyng) who seems to be quite evasive when questioned about possible causes of death for the victims. Unbeknown to the Inspector Dr. Mallinger has been conducting some quite bizzare experiments with certain types of moths and has succeeded in creating a giant sized Death's Head Moth that can take human form. Masquerading as the Doctor's daughter Clare the creature is the one who has been committing the murders on young men attracted to her supposedly human charms. Dr. Mallinger in his attempts to create a mate for this moth creature however realises that for the experiment to work human blood is needed to aid in the mate's incubation. After being forced to change address when the Inspector gets on his trail Dr. Mallinger sees that Quennell's own daughter Meg would be ideal for their purposes and Clare on the pretense of becoming friends with her lures Meg to their new home where under hypnosis Meg has blood extracted to feed the creature slowly developing in the pod. However when Clare takes the form of the killer moth again and commits another murder, this time of the estate gardener which draws more attention to him again, Dr. Mallinger realises that what he has created is now out of control and he destroys the hatching pod. Clare however then kills him and goes in pursuit of other victims to feed on. Finally catching up with the creature after it attacks Meg's young friend William, Inspector Quennell and the sergeant manage to ingnite the flying creature which then burns up and falls to the ground gradually turning back into the form of Clare before it turns to ashes.
Not an exactly scary tale but well produced and earnestly played despite the letdown with the rather flimsy creature of the title. Tigon productions came a definite step behind horror leaders such as Hammer and Amicus during the 1960's and early 70's however here they have produced a handsome period film with honest and interesting performances from the leads who take their roles seriously. Peter Cushing, already of course a veteran of many classic horror films was new to Tigon productions with this role in "The Blood Beast Terror", but delivers his usual solid performance and treats the case a bit like a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Robert Flemyng as the fanactical Dr. Mallinger has just the right elements of menace and secrecy in his playing to really increase the overall tension of the piece. Wanda Ventham is also excellent in the dual roles of Clare and cold blooded murdering Moth Creature. In what could be a silly character to play she definately injects just the right elements of seductive allure and bitchiness into her character to hold the viewers attention. Glynn Edwards as Sergeant Allen and especially Roy Hudd as a distastefully comical mortuary attendant also deliver great performances that help lift up the largely unbelievable story to a very watchable level. Beautiful locations and settings feature strongly in this story and give "The Blood Beast Terror", tremendous atmosphere and a very polished look that stands up definately to the more famous Hammer horror efforts.
If you can get past the obvious lack of care in creating a suitable central monster for this horror effort "The Blood Beast Terror", is an enjoyable viewing experience. Peter Cushing in my belief never really gave an insincere or bad performance and was an expert in creating a believable character often out of slim material. While certainly a lesser horror effort I do enjoy the acting performances here and I recommend it to horror fans who are interested in some of the lesser studios efforts during this 1960's period when Hammer productions dominated British horror movie making.
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