Night of the Blood Beast is a 1958 American science-fiction horror film directed by Bernard L. Kowalski (Attack of the Giant Leeches; Sssssss) from a screenplay by first-time screenwriter Martin Varno, who was 21 years-old. It starred several actors who had regularly worked with executive producer Roger Corman, including Michael Emmet, Ed Nelson, Steve Dunlap, Georgianna Carter and Tyler McVey.
It took Varno six weeks to write the script, the original working title of which was Creature from Galaxy 27. Screenwriters Jerome Bixby and Harold Jacob Smith gave Varno uncredited assistance with the dialogue. With a budget of about $68,000, it was shot over seven days at the Charlie Chaplin Studios, Bronson Canyon and a television station on Mount Lee in Hollywood.
The Blood Beast alien costume was also previously used in the Roger Corman film Teenage Caveman (1958), which was filmed just two weeks earlier. Art director Daniel Haller, who built the rocketship and other props, slept at the sound stage between work sessions.
Following dissatisfaction with his treatment by the Cormans, Varno pursued two successful arbitration cases, one of which was for underpayment. The other was in response to Gene Corman’s original story writing credit, even though Varno claimed to have written the entire story himself.
“The claustrophobic atmosphere of the first act evaporates into a cloud of endless disputation as soon as Corcoran wakes up, as he and his four companions scour the surrounding hills for the monster’s lair, arguing all the while over whether the alien is an unspeakable menace, or simply misunderstood. The climax is a particularly spectacular botch-job…” Scott Ashlin, 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
” …the titular creature in this disaster looks like a human-sized parrot covered in feces. I’m not quite sure what the f*ck the filmmakers were going for, but not only does the alien look ridiculous, it also speaks with the intonation of a movie trailer voice-over artist.” Chris Eggertson, Bloody Disgusting
“Night of the Blood Beast is a good example of the souring of the monster quickie in the late 1950s. Cheap productions kept being made after the novelty wore off, but something was missing. This particular programmer shows some good actors struggling to work with terrible material and coming up with a surprisingly uninteresting show.” Glenn Erickson, DVD Savant
” …this movie suffers from poor exposition, lackluster direction, and uninspired performances, all of which contribute to making the movie a lot duller than it should have been.” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
“Budget restraints limit this to just three locations; the lab, the woods and the cave. The same meager means ensure this is heavy on talk and low on actual action. This film’s title (and poster) will probably rope in the wrong kind of audience. I’m sure many have felt led astray expecting cheap thrills and Blood Beast action…” Justin McKinnaey, The Bloody Pit of Horror
“Happily combining science fiction and the living dead, the movie is a brisk and engaging, if routine, effort.” Alan Frank, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Handbook, Batsford, 1982
Main cast and characters:
- Michael Emmet … Major John Corcoran
- Angela Greene … Dr. Julie Benson
- John Baer … Steve Dunlap
- Ed Nelson … Dave Randal
- Georgianna Carter … Donna Bixby
- Tyler McVey … Dr. Alex Wyman
- Ross Sturlin … The Creature
Bronson Canyon, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California, USA
How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime by Roger Corman with Jim Jerome, Da Capo Press, 1998
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