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Film / The Beast Must Die

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"This film is a detective story— 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 opening narration

And that's essentially the gist of it. Rich hunter Tom Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart) invites several people to his mansion, the reason being that he desires to hunt for a new, more dangerous game: a werewolf. And he knows that one of his guests is one.

The film was produced by Amicus Productions and released in 1974 to cash in the blaxploitation craze. It is based on the story "There Shall Be No Darkness" by James Blish.

Provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Tom's other guests Palmer, Hermann and James from the short story are absent from the movie.
  • Adaptation Name Change: A mild example. Doris Gilmore and Dr. Christian Lundgren from the short story become Davina Gilmore and Dr. Christopher Lundgren.
  • Agent Scully: Pavel, the Newcliffes' security chief. He still goes along with the whole werewolf thing if only because Tom pays him so well. This comes back to haunt him when he disregards Tom's advice to defend himself with silver and tries to shoot the werewolf with a tiny pistol instead.
  • Acquitted Too Late:
    • Caroline is first one to transform into a werewolf after the Werewolf Break, but it then tuns out that she was infected by the real werewolf. The first werewolf attacked one of the security dogs on Newcliffe's estate. Caroline tried to comfort the dying animal. Unfortunately, cross-contamination occurred because she had cut herself earlier. Her blood mixed with the dog's infected blood, passing the werewolf virus onto her.
    • Also, Arthur Bennington. Since Charles Gray has more than a few villain roles under his belt, he does seem like a likely candidate. The werewolf kills him before the reveal, however.
  • Advertised Extra: Both Anton Diffring and Charles Gray are given very prominent billing in the opening credits, and are the most recognizable names (At the time the film came out) beyond Peter Cushing. However, Diffring gets killed first, and while Gray lasts longer in the film and has some deliciously snarky lines, his total screen time is much less than the others and he's killed off by the werewolf right before the third act.
  • Alliterative Name: The pianist Jan Jarmokowski.
  • All for Nothing: All of Tom's high-tech equipment is one of the first things the werewolf destroys. Since Pavel was the one who knew how it operated, and could potentially repair some of it, the werewolf makes sure to kill Pavel too, and thus all that great tracking equipment becomes entirely useless before the first night is over.
    • Pretty much the entire weekend. Tom accomplishes his objective to kill the werewolf, but he does so at the expense of his wife's life, as she becomes afflicted and he has to kill her, as well as Tom's OWN life, as the werewolf bites him, and he has to kill himself to prevent turning into a werewolf himself.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Caroline transforms into a werewolf pretty suddenly during the final silver test. Tom is also bitten by the werewolf, but he kills himself before he can turn.
  • Answer Cut:
    Paul: (Looks out of the window) A full moon! Shame that nobody thought to order—
    Tom: (Enters the room) Wolfbane?
  • Anti-Hero: Tom Newcliffe is an arrogant big game hunter (and possible Corrupt Corporate Executive) who really puts the screws on his guests (not to mention his wife) in order to flush out the werewolf, which he's hunting for sport rather than out of a desire to stop its rampage. That being said, he cares for his wife, his employees, and his hunting dog, and he's deeply grieved when his pursuit of the werewolf leads to their deaths.
  • As You Know: There's a lot of this between Tom and Pavel at the beginning.
  • Asshole Victim: Surprisingly, Tom. He's painted as a well-known big game hunter but due to the elements of the script needing to keep the werewolf alive until the final act, Tom is presented as being unable to hit the broad side of a barn most of the time, to the character's detriment. He's completely rude and antagonistic to all of the others present, except his wife and Pavel. His high-tech werewolf tracking equipment becomes pretty much moot after Pavel dies, as not only does the wolf destroy it, but with Pavel dead, there's no chance at all of fixing any of it. He ignores his wife Caroline's repeated pleas for him to give up on his plans to hunt the werewolf and let everyone go, which results in her becoming afflicted by the werewolf blood and results in him having to kill her. Also, he leaves all the suspects unguarded and unprotected, which results in the deaths of both Arthur Bennington and Paul Foote, who were not werewolves and ended up being killed by the werewolf because Tom gave them no ability to leave the mansion. He's so single-mindedly focused on bagging the werewolf that he ends up getting bit and having to kill himself after he kills it. To be clear, it's admirable that he's taking the risk to rid the world of a deadly werewolf, but his plan to do so puts a lot of innocent people at risk, and a lot of those people end up dead solely because Tom brought them there and isolated them with a murderous werewolf.
  • Bloody Handprint: Can be seen in Bennington's room when he is found dead.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: One early clue that Jan is the werewolf is when he begs Tom to take him and let the other guests go after the Car Chase. However, he never quite admits to being the one Tom actually wants, and Tom suspects him of covering for Davina, and turns the offer down.
    • Also, The very fact that Jan attempts to escape is a major clue. He's the only one that tries.
  • Canon Foreigner: Pavel. He has no equivalent in the short story.
  • Car Chase: Short one ensues when Jan tries to escape from Newcliffe's manor after hearing his plan for the weekend.
  • Chair Reveal: Used when Tom finds Pavel's corpse.
  • Closed Circle: The mansion, enforced by Tom after Jan attempts to drive off. He goes as far as sabotaging the engines of every car on the estate, including his own Land Rover, leaving his private helicopter the only functioning vehicle, and he also cuts the phone lines and dismisses all the servants (except his helicopter pilot). He does it to ensure the guests/suspects remain on the estate until he figures out who the werewolf is.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Paul. For most of the film, he treats the entire thing like a hilarious joke, even referring to the passing of the silver candlestick at dinner as "a kind of classy Russian Roulette" and kissing the candlestick when it's his turn, and shooting at people with arrows while drunk and intentionally missing, just to get a rise out of them.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • Along with the billing, Peter Cushing also hogs the cover, due to his horror image status. When he's billed second, this is more fair, as he does play a prominent supporting role, but the covers that bill him ahead of Lockhart are intentionally misleading. Lockhart is unquestionably the lead.
    • The most popular poster has a Wolf Man design, when in the film itself the werewolf greatly resembles a regular wolf. (albeit played by a dog)
    • Also, Some covers elevate Charles Gray to the third position, ahead of the lesser-known Marlene Clark, and even include his picture. While he's in more than one scene, virtually all of the other supporting cast members have more screen time, even Anton Diffring. While Diffring is killed off first, he has heavy screen time in the beginning with Lockhart, while all of Gray's appearances only have a line or two from Gray. Also, Gray's character is killed off at the end of the second act.
    • Covers also boost Anton Diffring's billing ahead of Marlene Clark, due to his name being more familiar, despite Clark being the definitive female lead.
  • Death by Adaptation: Tom Newcliffe, Paul Foote and Arthur Bennington all survived in the original short story, although Tom experienced a pretty severe Heroic BSoD that put him out of action towards the end. Bennington is given Dr. Lundgren's death from the short story, found mangled in his bedroom, whilst Paul ends up as Jan's final victim and Tom shoots himself after being bitten in the climax.
    • Caroline also becomes infected differently and dies under different circumstances, bludgeoned with a silver candlestick as opposed to shot with silver bullets.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Arthur Bennington. He's played by Charles Gray, so it's a given.
  • Dead Star Walking: Charles Gray. In the eight-person ensemble, Gray is billed fourth, right behind Lockhart, Cushing, and Clark, and definitely has name recognition. But while he appears in more than one scene, aside from some good snarky one-liners, he's not heavily involved in the plot other than to be a suspect, and he's unceremoniously killed off prior to the third act. Depending on the poster, Gray is also given even more prominent billing due to his name recognition, often ahead of Clark.
  • Demoted to Extra: Paul Foote was in many ways the real protagonist of "There Shall Be No Darkness," and the one who deduces the werewolf's identity. In the film, he's not only made a supporting character, he's one of the people suspected to be the werewolf by Tom!
  • Driven to Suicide: After killing the werewolf, Newcliffe kills himself so that he won't turn into one.
  • Driving Question: Who is the werewolf?
  • Dwindling Party: Pavel, Arthur Bennington, Caroline, Paul Foote, Jan, and Tom are all killed by the end credits, leaving Lundgren and Davina as the only survivors.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: Tom Newcliffe. He's less interested in killing the werewolf for the good of humanity than he is because he sees it as an interesting challenge. His mansion is also filled with animal trophies.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Covers the three nights of the full moon.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Tom's dog senses when someone is about to make an attempt on his life with an axe.
  • Eye Scream: Pavel's corpse has one of its eyes gouged out.
  • Face Death with Dignity: After Tom discovers the werewolf bit him, he chuckles that it got the drop on him, declines Lundgren's offer to load a silver bullet in his gun, painfully doing so himself, and quietly locks himself in the dining room, sits in his chair, and shoots himself right before the credits roll
  • Fake-Out Opening; The film opens with Newcliffe being chased around with a helicopter and men with guns as Pavel reports Newcliffe's location to the guards. After the guards repeatedly let Tom go, he stumbles Turns out he is just testing his new security system with himself as the bait for the guards.
  • The Finicky One: When Tom passes a silver bullet for the remaining suspects to put in their mouths to out the werewolf, when it's passed to Lundgren after a few people have done so, he takes the time to pull out a handkerchief and wipe it off before putting it in his own mouth.
  • Foreshadowing: "Tom, what if the werewolf turns out to be me?" "Pow!"
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Panicking Davina gets slapped.
  • Hollywood Darkness: There's a lot of really obvious day for night shooting.
  • Hellish Copter: Tom's helicopter does not come to a good end.
  • I Am a Humanitarian: Paul ate a piece human flesh when he was still a doctor.
  • Idiot Ball: Tom invites six people who could potentially be a werewolf to his house, isolates them, and apparently expects fair play from the potential werewolf, or at least believes his hunting skills are strong enough that he can kill it easily. Not only does his tracking equipment get destroyed when he leaves Pavel unprotected (and the werewolf kills Pavel as well, leaving no one alive with any chance of fixing any of it) but because he decided to prevent anyone from being able to leave, he ends up getting his wife killed (when she inadvertently gets infected by werewolf blood and he has to shoot her,) as well as innocent suspects Arthur Bennington and Paul Foote, who are both slaughtered by the werewolf. He even manages to destroy the helicopter and kill his pilot in an explosion from wild gunfire.
    • Also, Tom selects the group of werewolf suspects due to their being near the location every werewolf-related murder. (Diplomat Bennington was on the job in the city the murder occured, Jan was performing a concert there, etc.) While Tom is correct that it provides definitive proof that one of them truly is a werewolf, it doesn't factor that MORE THAN ONE of the suspects might be werewolves. In fact, every single one of the suspects could be one. Tom simply assumes there's only one.
  • IKEA Weaponry: Tom assembles a machine gun from a case when he goes to hunt the werewolf.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: In spite of his reputation as a hunter, Tom's not a great shot; he never lands a hit on the werewolf except at point-blank range, doesn't try leading his target even when it's running in a straight line, and blows up his own helicopter while trying to save its pilot from the werewolf.
  • It Can Think: Tom realizes that the werewolf retains some degree of human intelligence when it makes a beeline straight for the mansion to kill Pavel and prevent him from relaying its location.
  • Made of Explodium: The helicopter, which erupts into a huge fireball and burns like it's made of dry matchwood after Tom hits it trying to shoot the werewolf.
  • Mercy Kill: Tom kills his dog after it suffers a fatal wound from the werewolf.
  • Mutual Kill: Tom kills the werewolf, but realizes he's been bitten shortly afterwards, and commits suicide to stop himself from turning. All werewolves are doomed to die painfully at some point, so he would've been screwed no matter what he did.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Tom has a mild one after his second attempt to kill the werewolf gets both his personal pilot and his dog killed. However, this only reinforces his determination to kill the werewolf ("Tonight, the beast must die!"), and he lapses back into Egomaniac Hunter mode, with even the subsequent death of Bennington failing to move him... until Caroline turns out to be a werewolf and he has to kill her, too. He then goes into full blown "What have I done?" mode and experiences near total Heroic BSoD.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: You know things are getting serious when Cloud Cuckoo Lander Paul finally starts suffering a genuine nervous breakdown and stops finding everything funny.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: There's a lot of discussion about if silver affects them or not. The answer is somewhere in between.
  • Pursued Protagonist: The film opens with Tom Newcliffe being chased by a helicopter and a group of hunters in Land Rovers who are being guided by Mission Control Pavel who is using microphones and cameras mounted throughout the grounds to monitor Tom's progress. This is eventually revealed to be Tom testing the effectiveness of his new security system.
  • Race Lift: In "There Shall Be No Darkness," Tom and Caroline Newcliffe are both white. Here, however, they're black.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Caroline throws the silver candlestick at a mirror.
  • Red Herring Mole: Paul Foote gets initially painted as the werewolf, (and has some SERIOUSLY hairy arms,) but ultimately proves not the be one.
  • The Reveal: And the werewolf is: Jan the pianist.
  • Sensor Suspense: Used when Tom is hunting the werewolf on the first night.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Throughout the film, Tom wears entirely black outfits, occasionally trimmed in silver. This was both to emphasize actor Calvin Lockhart's sex appeal and to mark Tom as a more morally-ambiguous, Captain Ahab-esque hunter as opposed to a hero. By the time he "becomes the hero" (in director Paul Annett's words), however, he is wearing white - a white windbreaker specifically.
  • Silver Bullet: Tom reveals to Pavel that he has had silver bullets made to hunt the werewolf. Exactly why he had the cases made of silver as well as the bullets is anyone's guess.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Dr. Lundgren and the diplomat Bennington play a game of chess.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: While super cool and entertaining, the film has a very loungey and brassy score for one with a plot about hunting and killing a werewolf among suspicious guests. even the final confrontation with Tom and Jan is quite brassy.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Lundgren. He's the first victim in the original story.
  • Staking the Loved One: Tom is forced to shoot his wife Caroline when she turns into a werewolf.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Tom's helicopter pilot always wears sunglasses, even while flying the chopper at night. Probably because 'day for night' shooting was used for all of the nighttime scenes.
  • Super Window Jump: The werewolf jumps through a window to kill Pavel.
  • Take Me Instead: Attempted by Jan following the Car Chase. An early clue that he's the werewolf. However, because he Cannot Spit It Out, Tom thinks he's covering for Davina and refuses.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: The relationship between Jan and Davina started when he was teaching her.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: Albeit ones facing a werewolf as opposed to a conventional murderer.
  • This Was His True Form: After dying, the werewolf's corpse changes back to human.
  • Title Drop:
    Tom: Tonight is my last chance, the last night of the full moon. And I warn you both; tonight, the beast must die, and will.
  • Tranquil Fury: Tom is a master of this. After his pilot is killed, he stands staring down at the body in silent rage. And after he has to Mercy Kill his dog, his response is to enter the house, unholster his gun, and calmly fire off several rounds into the ceiling to vent.
  • *Twang* Hello: While inspecting the greenhouse on the first night of the full moon, Tom hears someone sneaking around outside. When he goes to investigate, the prowler throws a hatchet at him which narrowly misses his head and buries itself in the tree hehind him. The next day while walking the grounds, an arrow fired by Paul embeds itself in the tree beside him.
  • The Watcher: Basically Pavel. His entire role is to monitor Tom's equipment and cameras to monitor the guests and out the potential werewolf. Unfortunately for Pavel, the werewolf knows this, and its first order of business is to not only kill Pavel but destroy the equipment as well. Since Pavel was the only one that knew how it worked, with him dead, there's no one else to fix it.

Alternative Title(s): Black Werewolf