A scientist, working with genetics, creates a creature that is capable of transforming back and forth between a giant Death Head moth and a beautiful woman. The creature masquerades as his ...
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A scientist, working with genetics, creates a creature that is capable of transforming back and forth between a giant Death Head moth and a beautiful woman. The creature masquerades as his daughter when she is in her human incarnation and feeds on the blood of her victims when she is in the moth form.Written by
Dave Gan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Peter Cushing used to refer to THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR as the worst film of his prolific career, and this was enough to keep me from getting the SE DVD of it on R2 from DD Video when I purchased four more second-tier British horrors from the same outfit last year - namely, ISLAND OF TERROR (1966), NIGHT OF THE BIG HEAT (1967), CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR (1968) and THE CREEPING FLESH (1973). Eventually, it was shown last Saturday night on an Italian TV channel in its original language with forced Italian subtitles, and I really couldn't let an occasion like that pass me by...
Tigon was always seen as a cut-rate Hammer and this film was clearly inspired by the latter's THE REPTILE (1966; one of the Bray Studio outfit's best of the decade, and which THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR can't hope to match) - where, again, we find a female monster 'created' by her eminent but misguided entomologist father (Robert Flemyng). The monster design (we're dealing with a giant Death's Head Moth here) isn't too bad, actually, and it's thankfully not over-exposed during the course of the film: besides, Wanda Ventham's character is interesting in that she doesn't bemoan her fate as usually happens in such genre efforts - rather, she's single-minded in seeking out her prey among Flemyng's naïve students and rugged helpers around the estate, all of whom are easily swayed by her attractiveness!
Aided by a fine score from resident Tigon composer Paul Ferris, the film creates a reasonable Gothic atmosphere throughout (with, at one point, even an amateur rendition/parody of a typical Grand Guignol performance set up by the students - and also featuring Ventham - in Flemyng's house). The script, incidentally, is by Hammer alumnus Peter Bryan (THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES , THE BRIDES OF Dracula  and THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES ) and, while offering no real surprises, it's quite enjoyable for what it is - certainly better than its reputation would suggest! That said, the monster's come-uppance in an unconvincing and abrupt fiery ending is one of the lamest of its kind I've ever come across...
Cushing - with his customary fastidiousness and dry wit intact - is always a pleasure to watch; Flemyng, too, offers his unhinged medico routine - and it's interesting, to say the least, to witness this clash of Hammer and Italian horror acting styles! Notable among the supporting cast is Roy Hudd as a scurrilous morgue attendant.
At this stage, I don't know whether I'll eventually spring for the R2 DVD - since it contains a 25-minute career overview with Ventham - but, if it's ever discounted again by one of my British retailers of choice (and provided that it hasn't gone out-of-print by then!), it's worth considering. Another DD Video title I've long neglected is THE DEVIL'S MEN (1976), incidentally, also starring Peter Cushing - and, even though it's an equally maligned horror effort, I have to admit that I'm a sucker for such things...
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