Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Night of the Blood Beast

Night of the Blood Beast - poster finalCinema Monolith: 3/10
IMDb: 3.1/10
B-Movie Central: ***½ bees out of 5
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: *½ out of 4

Released in August, 1958
Not rated
62 minutes

Directed by Bernard L. Kowalski

Written by Martin Varno, from a story by Gene Corman

Cast: John Baer, Angela Greene, Ed Nelson, Georgianna Carter, Michael Emmett, Tyler McVey, and Ross Sturlin as The Creature

A single-seat spacecraft returns to Earth from its mission in space and crashes in an isolated, mountainous region of Florida, its astronaut pilot dead from the impact. The handful of doctors and technicians who arrive at the crash site pack him up and return to a nearby tracking station, but not before something exits the craft and escapes into the brush. Soon, the astronaut is quite alive, and carrying several alien fetuses inside of him, which will…hatch?…and take over the world. Meanwhile, a full-grown alien creature—resembling nothing more than a six-foot-tall muddy parrot—is bumbling in and around the station, trying to communicate with anyone who’ll listen.

It’s probably crazy to think that this movie might have inspired directors Ridley Scott and John Carpenter, but so many aspects of Night of the Blood Beast parallel those in two sci-fi films they helmed, Alien and The Thing, it’s hard not to assume that the pair—and the screenwriters—all saw this movie as youngsters, and retained the ideas and images in their freckled, impressionable heads. Obviously, the fetus angle can be found in Alien, and having a research compound that’s cut off from civilization mirrors the setting of The Thing, but the theme of an extraterrestrial monster on the loose in a confined space, picking off humans one by one, is a major component of both films.

Directed with static-shot precision by Bernard L. Kowalski—who years later would direct the seminal snake transformation classic Sssssss—and written by 21-year-old first-time screenwriter Martin Varno, Night of the Blood Beast was typical Roger Corman economical gunk, with some advanced ideas that were simplistically told and executed. Most of the actors who appeared in the film had long resumes, but I’d heard of none of them, and though Kowalski had over seventy directorial credits to his name, most of that time was spent working in television. Most noteworthy, though, was Varno, who eventually took legal action against the Cormans for underpayment, and won, and never wrote again.

And being a Corman film, you knew someone at some point would get his head torn off and ingested by something, granting it the capability to think and speak as that person (hellooo, Attack of the Crab Monsters). With scenes like this, the film seemed to strive for something at a higher level, both in science and medicine, and there were a few unexpected moments that took you by surprise, but mostly this was best-worst material all the way. However, I will admit there was one shot in particular—when the creature was fully revealed for the first time—that was simply outstanding, and executed beautifully. Granted, it was a relatively inconsequential shot, but for me a cool one nonetheless.

If you’re a fan of low-grade monster movies of the 1950s, and get a kick out of silly ones like this that are bad but still a lot of corny fun, then Night of the Blood Beast might very well be worth your time on a dateless weekend night (or if you’re like me, on a dateless weekday night as well). And with that unfortunate astronaut carrying nine alien embryos inside of him, one has to wonder: how did they get there in the first place? Thank you, Mr. Varno, for sparing us the details of that unholy union.  (3/10)

Night of the Blood Beast - photo final


20 comments on “Night of the Blood Beast

  1. Julie Dunning

    Yet another bizarre selection with a fascinating description.

    • Todd B

      Prepare thyself: you’ll be seeing many bizarre movies on Saturday nights at the CM drive-in!

  2. geelw

    Heh. I now wonder if both XTRO and Humanoids From the Deep were derived from this one. Probably not, but you get two more bad films to add to your list.

    • Todd B

      I can see where you’re going with this, so we might as well add Inseminoid to the mix as well! I own and I’ve seen Humanoids, but it’s funny you should mention XTRO; I’ve been thinking about watching this one of late, only because I need an ‘X’-titled movie for my ‘X’ index! Have you read the plot synopsis for it on Wikipedia? I just did, and it makes ZERO sense, which hopefully is the synopsis writer’s fault, and not the movie’s.

      • geelw

        XTRO makes not much sense, bad synopsis or not. I forgot about Inseminoid (and for good reason, after sitting through it once). I guess you can add Demon Seed to that lineup, as it was probably the most expensive of all those types of films and is still too funny for all the wrong reasons. I think Galaxy of Terror might also make the cut.

      • Todd B

        I think what we have here is the most insanely-themed and controversial DVD collection of movies to hit the cult sci-fi/horror market! Let’s see if we can find 12 of these things, so Mill Creek can put out a cheap box set! And yes, I have seen Galaxy of Terror, and yes, that particular scene was…out there.

      • geelw

        Oh, those Mill Creek sets are a hoot, aren’t they? I have at least 7 or 9 of the 50-film sets here thanks to snapping up a few really cheap a while back. The funny thing is some of the films have been getting expensive remasters from a few publishers, so they’re no longer cheap if you buy them separately.

      • Todd B

        50-film sets? You must be rich! I have six of the 12-movie packs and three of the 8-movie sets. I think my favorites of the bunch would be the ‘Too Cool for School’ teen sex comedy pack, and my ‘Girls, Guns, and G-Strings’ set of Andy Sidaris action films.

      • geelw

        I lucked out in getting those sets at an average of something like six bucks each thanks to two sellers bundling them up on ebay at a low starting bids and no one interested. I ended up with a few duplicate sets that I gifted to a few friends (who probably hated me afterwards for exposing them to so many “B” flicks at once, lol).

      • Todd B

        Good lord, those are some good prices for those sets! I’d like to get the Dark Crimes one at some point, and a couple of their more recent sci-fi and horror 50-film sets, like Killer Creature Features and Mad Scientist Theater. But I ain’t paying Mill Creek’s retail price of $30 for ’em! I’ll wait for a deal like yours!

      • geelw

        Try poking around the assorted Goodwill shops on ebay, as I also lucked out and got one of those big ol’ Mystery sets and a Kung Fu one from them as a cheap gifts for a friend. Those Dick Tracy films were worth it (they’re pretty hilarious), but I was surprised by some of the other flicks in that collection. One caveat: watching too many movies in a day can be hazardous to your health. Maybe.

      • Todd B

        I’ll keep my eyes peeled on eBay…and now you have me intrigued by the Dick Tracy films, none of which I’ve ever seen. And funny you should mention watching too many movies in a day; I’ve got a story related to that very concept posting on Wednesday!

  3. Dracula

    Mountains in Florida? The spacecraft must have crashed on Britton Hill, at 345′ above sea level the highest point in Florida. Wait, what about the Matterhorn at Disney World in Orlando? Maybe they could have picked another State for the Southern California backdrop scenes but that might have increased the review to 4/10.

    • Todd B

      Everything in the film hinted to the tracking station being located somewhere in Florida, but I couldn’t find any on-line information to verify that (the spacecraft crashes ‘ten miles off-target’, and they mention Cape Canaveral often). One thing’s for sure: the outdoor scenes were filmed in Griffith Park and Bronson Canyon in Los Angeles. And only if they’d filmed the exteriors at Black’s Beach would I have considered boosting my rating to a 4/10!

      • Too funny !! And obviously the movie was too.

      • Todd B

        There were quite a few unintentionally hilarious moments in this one…at just 62 minutes, you should give it a look!

  4. Dracula

    Then you would have an R rated movie. Any of these cheesy B movies rated R?

    • Todd B

      Yes, if they’re from the ’70s or ’80s; you’ll see most of my reviews for those on Saturday nights, at the CM drive-in!

  5. There’s always a bit of charm to these low budget Corman flicks. I never tire of revisiting them on occasion. This one included.

    • Todd B

      At just an hour in length, I could easily watch this again and again, and get a kick out of it every time.

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