Film Reviews:

The Blood Beast Terror

aka The Blood Beast from Hell / The Deathshead Vampire / Vampire Beast Craves Blood (US)

(Vernon Sewell, UK, 1967)

The Blood Beast Terror - US DVD sleeveA terribly cheap Tigon production about a giant man-killing moth, starring Peter Cushing is what we have here. Dr Mallinger (Robert Flemyng) lectures to local university students about his favoured line in lepitoptera - moths. The dead body of a student turns up one morning and the inquisitive police inspector (Cushing) investigates. With a Thames tributary desperately trying to pose as an African river during the opening prologue, one quickly realises not to set one's hopes too high in anticipation of the truth behind The Blood Beast Terror. Extreme close-ups (attempting to cut out the non-African background) of a monkey and a parrot (!) to suggest the exotic African locale fail to raise the expectations any higher. When Mallinger returns to ol' Blighty and sets about breeding a new family of moth, his scar-faced butler is kept busy keeping any curious visitors away from his master's work. Unfortunately for Mallinger's sex-starved daughter (Wanda Ventham) this also keeps away any potential suitors. And good job too, because simply by bringing electricity into the equation, Dr Mallinger creates a giant super moth (a kind of proto-Mothra). Problem for the locals is, this moth needs tasty human flesh to survive.

Cushing's police inspector is a confident character and the horror veteran's performance smartly brings him to life. Comedian Roy Hudd pops up at one point as a comic relief mortuary attendant eating his dinner at the feet of a corpse. The film loses any pace and tension it manages to muster early during the running time, when the story relocates to an idyllic country retreat. Here, the poor lighting and dull sets never convince as a country cottage but look everything like a cheap studio. With its read plastic eyes, black mask and antenna, the mutant moth resembles (Japanese superhero) Ultraman more than any bug, and so leaving the competent actors fighting against budget to salvage any credibility.

Rob Dyer

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