The Blood Beast Terror (1968)

Blood Beast Terror DVD CoverHas the idea of giant blood-sucking moths ever kept you up late at night? Did you ever wonder if maybe in the deepest, unexplored regions of Africa that maybe there were moths that could be collected by crazy British scientists so that they could develop them into man-sized creatures that flew around and laid a Dracula-style smackdown all over innocent dopes that just happen to be wandering around the scenic English countryside? Or maybe you’re just curious as to how Peter Cushing paid the bills between gigs on Hammer Films. Whatever your reason for watching The Blood Beast Terror, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how bland it all is.

You really can’t hate a film that stars the classy Peter Cushing as an inspector hot on the trail of a big bug in Victorian-era London, but the movie’s premise is simply too stupid to really engage you beyond the point of vague disinterest.

On the one hand, you can give the film points for trying something a little different. A cop in search of a blood-draining monster that turns out to be a big moth that is somehow related to an entomologist’s experiments isn’t something you’re going to see every day in the horror genre. On the other hand, a movie about a killer moth that turns into a busty (and crabby) babe isn’t something you’re really going to want to see every day in the horror genre every day.

I mean, it all comes down to the fact that the monster is a moth! Oh, and it’s not just one of those monsters that you only get fleeting glimpses of as it does its foul deeds. No, the filmmakers decide give you the Monster Full Monty several times and show this dang moth in all its rubber suited glory! As it stood there, all black and hairy with big red eyes, I was reminded of one of the more sedate villains that Ultraman might have fought and rolled around with across scale models of Tokyo.

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In the wilds of Africa some geek in one of those safari outfits traipses around in the mud and pulls out some dog turd sized chrysalises from a tree stump. He puts them in his little keepsake box and the next thing I know, we’re back in London.

There’s a lecture going on at Dr. Mallenger’s house. As you surely know, it is his weekly Thursday lecture about creepy crawlies that he gives to the university students. Inspector Quennell (Peter Cushing) shows up investigating this murder that’s happened somewhere or other.

I can’t recall why exactly he showed up at this guy’s house, but I think it was because somehow Quennell thought Mallenger might have some info about some flying thing that committed the murder. In a bizarre coincidence, Mallenger also has a daughter named Claire who just happens to be giant moth! (This is obvious since their butler has all these moth marks all over his ratty face!)

Quennell has Mallenger go out to the ambulance to look at a victim of this mysterious flying killer. The guy is bloodied, but still alive. Mallenger says he’ll take a look and asks Quennell for a little space. Then while Quennell isn’t watching, Mallenger strangles the guy!

After he chokes the guy out, he tells Quennell that his official medical opinion is that the guy died of knowing a little too much about a certain giant killer moth that also happens to be my daughter. Well, maybe he doesn’t say that in so many words, but it’s written all over his face.

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A young dude who is just back from his own safari shows up at the house to show some specimens to Mallenger. He takes a shine to Claire and she invites him to watch the college kids put on a dress rehearsal of some awful play they’re doing. For reasons that remain shrouded in mystery, play practice is at Mallenger’s house.

After practice, this dude goes out with Claire and gets himself killed. Mallenger plays it pretty dumb from here on out and denies ever meeting the kid, even though everyone knew the kid was at his place and in fact the police had to show him how to get to Mallenger’s place. Mallenger flies the coup and goes off into the country with Claire in tow to continue his experiments.

Quennell decides that he’s going deep undercover. His cover story is that he’s on a fishing holiday as a banker. Only in a British movie about a big moth would the elderly star go undercover for the climax as a banker.

The best part is that he is taking his daughter with him as part of his cover! Even his boss kind of blanches at the dumbness of that stratagem, asking Quennell if that would be safe. Well, hell no it won’t be safe! That’s why I’m bringing my sexy daughter along to distract any bad guys I might encounter!

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Meanwhile, Mallenger is of course feverishly working on his experiments which involve trying to hatch a male giant moth to mate with Claire!

As you’ve no doubt gathered, the idea is a fairly dumb one and isn’t ever really explained. I suppose we are to assume that Mallenger is one of those uppity scientists who is trying to create a new form of life, for no other reason than to see if it is possible. Even if you’re going to be doing that, why would you fart around with moths?

And what am I suppose to make of the fact that the giant moth appears as a regular woman most of the time. Is it a big moth that can turn into a woman? Is it a woman that can turn into a big moth? Does Mallenger have really big holes in his cheap wool suits?

What exactly is going on with his experiments? Why is the moth so big and why is it obviously a biped with wings? And why does it need human blood?

The whole thing reeked of a really substandard Hammer movie that Hammer would have rejected due to the script being fairly pointless and not too smart. Would anyone really take their daughter after a killer moth? Would Mallenger really be that easy to find? Would the school play really be allowed to rehearse at a mad scientist’s house?

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