‘No girl was safe as long as this head hunting thing roamed the land!’
Night of the Blood Beast is a 1958 American science-fiction horror feature film directed by Bernard L. Kowalski (Attack of the Giant Leeches; Sssssss) from a screenplay by first-time screenwriter Martin Varno, who was twenty-one years old. The movie stars several actors who had regularly worked with executive producer Roger Corman, including Michael Emmet, Ed Nelson, Steve Dunlap, Georgianna Carter and Tyler McVey. Roger’s brother, Gene Corman, was the producer.
The eerie soundtrack score was composed by Alexander Laszlo (Attack of the Giant Leeches; Beast from Haunted Cave; The Amazing Mr. X).
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 Cave Man (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 Corman brothers, Varno pursued two successful arbitration cases, one of which was for underpayment. The other was in response to producer Gene Corman‘s original story writing credit, even though Varno claimed to have written the entire story himself.
Reviews [click links to read more]:
“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…” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
” …before long Corcoran revives from the dead, literally impregnated by the alien beasts. After this promising and decidedly unorthodox buildup, the film goes downhill, settling for standard eek-eek shocks and a most unconvincing “blood beast”, whose costume wouldn’t have even passed muster at a Halloween party. Still, Night of the Blood Beast is at least half of a good, well-constructed horror flick.” All Movie
“There are some interesting ideas, like a man impregnated with alien babies, the Blood Beast consuming Wyman’s brain to gain understanding, and the unaffected humans’ paranoid treatment of John. Recommended for any fans of 1950’s horror and science fiction films.” Bad Movies
” …not only does the alien look ridiculous, it also speaks with the intonation of a movie trailer voice-over artist.” Bloody Disgusting
“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…” The Bloody Pit of Horror
“While this also has no character and an obvious plot, it’s fun for being formulaic. It has a few inventions and works well within its constraints. I mean, a big positive of this film is that it’s only 63 minutes long. Sure, it follows all the expected steps, but it does it efficiently and quickly. There’s no bloat here.” d.contextualised:
“It is one of the films that seems to be a key influence on Alien (1979), along with The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958). It is a shame, then, that it is not very good, though it is certainly amusing with its terrible acting and rotten special effects, and fun for its only 62 minutes running time.” Derek Winnert
“The plot seems to borrow heavily from The Thing (from Another Planet. The monster is a typical poor rubber suit and the acting is typically sub-par. There are some laughs to be had.” Down Among the “Z” Movies
“The movie doesn’t show us the beast for quite a while, trying desperately to build up some suspense. The beast looks pretty neato, if you ask me. Long tatters of flesh or cloth or something hang from its body and limbs. It has a gigantic round head and a beak-like mouth, plus long flexible claws. By the way, for a “blood beast” it is pretty mild.” DVD Drive-In
“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.” 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.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
” …despite the very threadbare nature of this production, like most of the Cormans’ work of the era, it is a brisk but reasonably entertaining film. It isn’t one of their better efforts, but then, it isn’t as bad as many of the other films AIP was churning out at the time. I’ll confess, I rather like this one, I suspect because of the last-minute switches it pulls on our sympathies.” Rivets on the Poster
“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
“While it’s a fine example of how to make a film with very little money–small cast, limited sets and locations–but also of how editing can ruin a movie. Although it only runs 62 minutes, Night of the Blood Beast seems far longer than that, because nearly every bit of dialogue is punctuated with a pause, almost every scene runs longer than it needs to, and whenever the characters venture outside in search of the creature menacing them, it’s like we get to see their entire two-mile hikes.” Shades of Gray
“It was not overly long and it did not tax your patience with trivialities. It hit all the points it was aiming for, and except for the weird, furry, chicken-looking alien, it was quite good. Almost like watching an episode of classic Star Trek as a matter of fact. Worth your time.” The Telltale Mind
Cast and characters:
• Michael Emmet … Major John Corcoran
• Angela Greene … Doctor Julie Benson
• John Baer … Steve Dunlap
• Ed Nelson … Dave Randal
• Georgianna Carter … Donna Bixby
• Tyler McVey … Doctor Alex Wyman
• Ross Sturlin … The Creature
Bronson Canyon, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California