The Blood Beast Terror (1967)
The cryptid entity known as Mothman first made news by alleged appearances in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia in 1966, with additional sightings through 1967. Mothman was reported as a dark, winged creature with glowing red eyes. Most accounts claimed that the creature was bi-pedal with a general humanoid appearance. After seeing The Blood Beast of Terror (1967), I can’t help but think U.S. accounts of mothman inspired this British Tigon film. I wonder if there is a connection?
The film opens in a tropical expedition setting with a young entomologist collecting bright green insect pupae from a rotting stump. Back in England, we meet Dr. Carl Mallinger (Robert Flemyng, in a role originally cast for Basil Rathbone), also an entomologist, who is lecturing college students about the identification and taxonomy of various insects, including potter wasps and various moths of the family Sphingidae. These are the hawk moths, including the Death’s Head Moth (genus Acherontia). This is the moth later made famous by author Thomas Harris in The Silence of the Lambs (1988). The moth appears earlier in the Dali Buñuel film Un Chien Andalou (1929). The moth has a vague pattern of a skull on it’s thorax.
Several bloody murders have occurred proximal to Mallinger’s estate. Detective Inspector Quennell (Peter Cushing) investigates. The found bodies are always scarred and bloody, with blood drained from the bodies. At one crime scene Quennell discovers several flat irregular-shaped shingles. He consults with Mallinger about possible birds that might attack a human. We also learn that Mallinger has a deaf, scarred underling who cares for a large eagle kept in the dungeon.
Mallinger also conducts electro-experiments with a static discharge machine and a leyden jar (an early capacitor).
And he has a giant half-pupated mummy-like mothman in his basement… He applies a static discharge…
Peter Cushing carries this film. He once remarked that he felt The Blood Beast Terror was his worst film. It’s not bad, but it suffers from a choppy mid-section and poor closing special effects. I wasn’t impressed with the flying mothman fx. Still, genre completists and Cushing fans will want to see this film. Watch Cushing’s hand mannerisms. Along with Bela Lugosi he was a master at capturing your attention with hand gestures.
That’s not a flat top haircut! Beware the pupating Blood Beast Terror!
This film is available through Amazon as a Redemption | Kino Lorber DVD Release. The print is sharp and contrasty. I paid about $12 for it. I think it might be cropped from the original aspect ratio based on the opening titles.
Alternative poster and title The Vampire-Beast Craves Blood.