I have found that a good way for me to start the week is to watch a Roger Corman movie. Ok, that might not be entirely true but I was pretty happy to learn that I would get to watch a Roger Corman produced movie today. This movie is also funny because a clip of it is on a compilation of B-movie monsters on YouTube that I have used as a list for movies to buy/own. It’s funny because the clip just showed a monster jumping into some bushes and everyone in the comments was asking about it. I realize this might not be the best way to talk up a movie but I thought it was funny so let’s get right into today’s movie, Night Of The Blood Beast.
The plot: A rocket ship carrying astronaut John Corcoran is launched to orbit the Earth but as it is making it’s descent for re-entry, something malfunction and the ship comes into fast, causing it to crash and killing John. Dave Randall and Donna Bixby head out and locate the wreckage and report in to the rest of the team (Dr. Alex Wyman, Steve Dunlap, and John’s fiance Dr. Julie Bensen) that Corcoran is dead. Wyman tells them to get pictures of the wreckage but as they start to photograph it, Donna notices a strange mud on the ship but doesn’t see something moving through the mud and into the nearby brush. When the rest of the team get there, they are shocked to see that a hole in the ship had gotten wider and that John’s body doesn’t show any sign of rigor mortis. Taking the body back to the lab, Wyman and Julie start doing tests while Dave tries getting in touch with Cape Canaveral but the radio doesn’t seem to work so he goes outside to check the tower while Steve keeps trying to transmit. Meanwhile, Julie discovers that John’s body has normal blood pressure so they take a blood sample to check. As Dave is checking the radio tower and generator, the power in the building suddenly goes out and Dave is attacked by a large creature and Dave manages to fire a few shots into it before he passes out. The others go to check on him and as he tells them what happened, they hear a loud crash from inside the building. Heading back inside, they stop to grab a lantern and some weapons before heading into the medical room, where they find a busted window but John’s body is still there. As Dave and Donna check on the lack of power, Julie studies John’s blood sample and sees a strange cell that does not match the normal red or white blood cells. Deciding they need to contact help, Wyman suggests Steve head to the nearest town and call Cape Canaveral but Steve is unable to get either of their vehicles to work. Checking people’s watches, Dave realizes that they are in some sort of magnetic field, which is why the power has gone out. When the group decides to get some sleep, Dave is woken by something moving around outside the room and they find the decapitated body of Wyman hanging from the medical room. They believe the creature has taken John’s body too but are surprised to find that he has regained consciousness but doesn’t know what happened. When they recheck the blood sample, they find the alien cells are gone from the sample but when they examine him under another machine, they find the cells have become lizard-like embryos. Steve and Dave want to kill the embryos but John says they can’t as they are keeping him alive and says it won’t let you, just before the creature bursts through the door. Steve and Dave begin shooting it but when the bullets don’t seem to faze it, Steve notices the creature’s reaction to Donna’s lantern and grabs a second one to throw at it, setting part of the wall on fire and frightening the creature off. Steve wants to go after the creature the next morning and armed with flare guns, he leaves with Dave and Donna. Heading out, they notice that their watches are running again and believe the creature is heading back towards the rocket crash. Heading there, Dave fires a flare into the ship and they notice his watched stopped again just as the creature grabs Donna. Dave and Steve give chase and manage to scare the creature off and rescue her. Back at the lab, John empties the flare gun that was left for Donna and tells her that he believes the creature is not evil and just being misunderstood and they should communicate with it and not kill it. When the others return, John pleads his case that the creature is not evil and says he thinks he can find the creature as they are somehow connected. Dave and Steve aren’t sure if they can trust John and decide to make some moltov cocktails to use as weapons against the creature. Heading out, John leads them to a cave that the creature is hiding in but runs off into the cave to try and communicate with the creature. Inside, he finds that the creature is now able to talk and it says that it is there to help save mankind. John leads the creature out of the cave, where it talks to the others and say it is not there to harm them. The creature says that the first of it’s kind will be born soon and will be able to multiply and take over the mankind in order to save them from their own self destructive tendencies. John realizes the creature is evil and tells the others to kill them both but when the creature grabs him as a hostage, he commits suicide in order to kill the embryos inside him. Dave and Steve then throw the moltov coctails at the creature and set it ablaze with the flare guns but as it dies, it warns that others of it’s species are still in space and will make their way to Earth eventually.
Night Of The Blood Beast is a bit distinctive not so much for the movie itself, but the events that happened behind the scenes. The movie was written by Martin Varno, who was not a member of the Writers Guild at the time. Unhappy with the way the Corman’s treated him, Varno was encouraged to talk to the guild and ended up joining them and filing arbitration over not being payed enough and writing credits. Varno won both suits but Roger Corman refused to pay Varno, and was forced to use non-union writers for several years until he finally relented and paid so he could have a union writer work on one of his movies. In spite of winning the suits, Gene Corman is still listed in the film as the writer, due to it costing too much to recall and change all the prints at the time and Varno allowing it to stay as is.
This is a short, interesting movie to watch. The acting was pretty decent, with Michael Emmet doing a good job as the confused John Corcoran and John Baer (Steve) as the somewhat de facto leader of the group. The story was interesting, though not entirely original, and moved along pretty smoothly. The effects were on the cheap end, which you kind of expect from an early Corman movie, but they did a good job with what they had. The monster design was a little odd and, after reading a reviewer’s description of it, I honestly can’t get the image out of my head that it does kind of look like the San Diego Chicken that was covered in tar. A short and simple movie that is good for a B-movie or Sci-Fi pick me up.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5