Thursday, May 6, 2010

'Blood Beast Terror' is Cushing's Worst?

The Blood Beast Terror (1968)
Starring: Peter Cushing, Robert Flemyng and Wanda Ventham
Director: Vernon Sewell
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

A blood-sucking creature is on the loose, and Inspector Quennel (Cushing) is hot on its trail. All the clues point to the household of harmless entomologist Dr. Mallenger (Flemyng). Can his wanton, promiscious daughter (Ventham) be a literal man-eater?

Peter Cushing reportedly described this movie as the worst one he was ever in. While it isn't all that good--it's slow-moving, it's requirements for special effects to turn a buxom babe into a giant blood-sucking moth are beyond the meager budget it was produced with, and the ending is one of the most abrupt and badly motivated among the many abrupt and badly motivated endings of British monster movies from the 1950s and 1960--but it isn't anywhere near as bad as "Scream and Scream Again," so I can only assume that either Cushing had a better time making the latter film or he hadn't made it yet when he talked down "Blood Beast Terror".

While it's certainly true that this is one of those very rare occasions where Cushing doesn't seem to be giving the role his all--this is the only time I remember feeling like he "phoned in" his performance--he still brings more life to the scenes he's in than is found virtually anywhere else in the film. In fact, aside from Cushing, the only interesting thing in the picture is Wanda Ventham (or, more specifically, Wanda Ventham's cleavage).

This is a film you can safely skip until you've seen every other Peter Cushing movie there is. And, yes, that includes "Top Secret!"


  1. I must say I watch this one over and over; its unbelievable silliness never fails to inspire.
    But there are some good ideas, a few unusual moments, and Cushing is relaxed and delightful.
    What, I wonder, do you make of Corruption? Made around the same time but a very different breed of animal entirely.

  2. I do disagree with Cushing's own assessment of this picture, but I don't know if I'm going to watch it a third time. But, you have good taste, so maybe I AM missing something.

    But I haven't even heard of "The Corruption" until now! Must track it down! Thanks!

    (I finally watched "Cash on Demand" this week. Great picture. Makes the price of the "Hammer Icons of Suspense" collection worth the purchase price all by itself.)

  3. I think you'll get a kick out of Corruption! Apparently Cushing used to lump it and Blood Beast together as his two worst. It's unquestionably the sleaziest, goriest and most sadistic film he ever made. Just make sure you get the full European version: it was shot in two very different editions. Even the diluted one is an eye-opener, but the other is really something!

  4. You must not have seen the abysmal SHOCK WAVES or the mind-boggingly unfunny "comedy" SON OF HITLER, which are tied for my vote for worst Peter Cushing movie of all time and far worse than SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN. If you want a phoned-in Cushing performance, look no further than SHOCK WAVES. And, while interesting to see him doing over-the-top comedy, SON OF HITLER is just embarrassingly awful, especially in its use of actual Nazi footage, which of course grinds to an instant halt whatever modicum of comedy there was in the first place. As for SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN, it's definitely convoluted, and not really what I'd call a good film, but it's never boring, and has some lovely bits, among them Alfred Marks' wonderful turn as a top copper and the best Jaguar police car chase ever. And finally, Peter is great in the much-maligned BLOOD BEAST TERROR; sure, it's no classic, but Cushing's performance as Inspector Quennell is extremely enjoyable. Best line (perhaps a tad misquoted, but I haven't seen the film in quite a while): "Don't slop it in the saucer! I keep telling you!"

  5. Oops, in perusing your blog further I see you rate SHOCK WAVES rather highly. In fact, a lot of horror fans seem to share your opinion, and I have never been able to figure out why. Although, I grant you, it may indeed be the best underwater Nazi zombie film. :-)

  6. Matthew: Any tips in telling the two versions of "Corruption" so I don't purchase the wrong one?

    Waverboy: "Son of Hitler" is ANOTHER Cushing film I've not heard of. I'll have to be on the look-out for that now. As for "Scream and Scream Again," I'm coming to the conclusion that I either have exceptionally bad taste, or that movie is one that you need to be in a certain mindset to appreciate. I'm starting to realize I may be in a minority as far as my dislike of it goes. (BTW, thanks for stopping by!)

  7. Just watched this and I was surprised at what a poorly-made, sloppy film it was. I haven't seen everything Cushing has been in, but of what I have seen Blood Beast Terror would be right at the bottom along with Land of the Minotaur. I'm not really a fan of Scream and Scream Again either, but I think it's better than either of those.

  8. By coincidence, I just scheduled a review of "Shatter" will be coming up on this blog at 9pm tonight! And it is far, far worse than this one.

    And I'll have to chalk "Land of the Minotaur" up as ANOTHER Cushing film to track down! I thank all of you for your helpful replies!