Night of the Bood Beast [1958] -a review

<<Ten Second Survey>>
1) What were they thinking?
2) It cost how much to make this?
3) The Gist of the Plot explained
4) ‘Honey I’m having the alien’s baby’ and other existential quandaries of totalizing cognitive subservience; attempted themes in review
4_night-of-the-blood-beast-half-sheet-1958
Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKq0qcAJVr8
Full Movie – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9aQk4Q6Ye8

Movie title: Night of the Blood Beast (1958)
Movie genres: Sci-Fi; Horror
Actors: John Baer, Angela Greene, Ed Nelson, Georgianna Carter, Michael Emmet, Tyler McVey, Ross Sturlin, Bernard L. Kowalski
Directors: Bernard L. Kowalski
Movie length: 62 m.

When I first conceived of the idea of doing these movie reviews – Night of the Blood Beast was the first movie that I actually watched. Truth be told – I was only mildly inspired to even put any words down at all about it and moved on to watch several others that proved to be much more adept at being inspirational. At least one of those reviews has proven to be so long that I thought it best to do a couple of shorter reviews before dumping anything really huge here – so here goes…

Night of the Blood Beast is one of those movies that you have to wonder how many people thought what were we thinking at the end of the first test screenings. Needless to say – it takes money to make even the worst of movies, so stuff like this gets sent out to be watched, sold and otherwise purveyed wherever films can be suitably monetized to recoup the investment. At least that usually seems the case.[1] According to IMDB.com the budget for this film was estimated to have been $68,000 in 1958. According to http://www.usinflationcalculator.com, adjusted for inflation, that equals out to $567,148.24 in 2016 dollars. I have not been able to find anywhere on the Internet if it has ever been documented whether or not the film ever broke even. Whether or not that ever actually happened, I feel pretty confident that a lot of expectation and hopes were – at least among those hapless moviegoers who actually paid money to go see it.

Plot (On the Cheap)
Without affording the film too much detail – the plot centers on the astronaut John Corcoran (played by Michael Emmet[2]) who is launched into space as the NASA’s first man in space – only to be mysterious attacked and hurtled back to earth. Because of the steep angle of his spacecrafts descent Corcoran does not survive the impact. Or at least that is what his would-be rescuers initially assume. For half a million dollars – you’d think that they might have been able to make a more convincing stage prop for the spacecraft. According to Wiki – even the monster’s costume was borrowed from a previous Roger Corman film, Teenage Cave Man (1958). The Corman brothers. Roger[3] and Gene[4], were, as is shown here – notorious cheapskate moviemakers. My favorite part of this scene is the ‘creature’, which initially takes on the form of a kind of mud that coats the space capsule. The alien makes its initial departure in a process that looks like a bad rug being pulled off of the prop.

The body of Corcoran is brought back to the research lab where it is discovered to still have blood pressure and living human cells and strange alien ones – viewable under a microscope. The creature makes its arrival and eventually attacks one of the men – Dave Randall (played by Ed Nelson[5]) – as they are investigating a mysterious power failure at the lab. Upon returning to the lab – they find that the mysterious creature has attacked it, and they initially think that it has stolen Corcoran’s body. They are shocked to find, instead, that Corcoran has been mysteriously reanimated. What follows is a kind of hokey telepathic advocacy on Corcoran’s part – on behalf of the creature – even after finding that there are now lizard-like alien embryos growing in his abdomen.
NOTBB_dumbestv1
Later, the creature attacks the lab for a second time – but this time it kills Dr. Alex Wyman (played by Tyler McVey[6]) by beheading him and (it is hinted at) eating his brain. This gives the creature telepathic powers and enables it to communicate with Corcoran and even the others. Corcoran continues his alien apologetic for the creature arguing that it is not necessarily evil and should not automatically be destroyed.

How It Ends
Eventually we wind up at a cave – and the creature is arguing that it has come in peace and that its purpose is to save mankind from itself. There is an allusion towards an eventual common consciousness to be shared by everyone – as the creature states that Dr. Wyman is now with him and that they are sharing knowledge and awareness with one another. At the last minute, Corcoran seems to have a moment of existential clarity and realizes that both he and the creature must be destroyed. He runs toward the creature, pulls out a knife and stabs himself, and then falls over in typical cheesy fashion. The other men throw makeshift Molotov cocktails at the creature and kill it with fire. As the creature goes down it rambles something or other about the human race not being ready – but that others will come.

Suitable Movie Use
If it is Halloween – and you have just finished watching Night of the Blood Beast as your corny horror movie/background music/distraction/party favor – then here are some thoughts/concepts that I think that movie brings up – but that are not really explored to any tangible depth in the film, but that would nonetheless definitely make for good conversation between fellow horror movie aficionados.

Idea 1: Alien Pregnancy
I have been told that doctorial theses have been written on the sublime horror that men everywhere experienced when they went to the movies and watched the infamous ‘chest bursting scene’ in Ridley Scott’s Alien. The concept of pregnancy is supposedly what horrified so many movie-going men – at least thats what many leading feminist theorists tell us. (You can watch the scene here [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdBu6VAESeI] and a mini-documentary on it here [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbNRdQELnic]) This much is true – the graphic and notoriously horrific scene is what helped establish the movie Alien as one of the most influencial and well-regarded sci-fi alien horror films ever made. Ever. But here in Night of the Blood Beast the man who is impregnated with little lizard beasties doesn’t really even initially think that they are that big of a deal.

Idea 2: Existential Thoughts
Another veritable gold mine of neglected potential is the whole envelope of existentialism that the movies barely touches on and only does so really in the end. The monster was obviously written to be horrific – but better script writing might have developed the script further around the creatures stated intentions of ‘rescuing humanity from itself’ by (if I understood correctly) some kind of universal thought and will absorption.

Idea 3: Alien subservience
Both of the previous concepts serve to highlight the barely mentioned concept that all would have invariably led to – that this monster would have enslaved all of humanity for its own good. Any libertarians out there and actually reading this?

Conclusions
In the end Night of the Blood Beast would have probably done a lot better by just keeping the monster mean and baseless – and avoided the discursive horrors implied by the complexities of existentialist rumination and insinuated totalitarian subservience. These concepts can carry an entire film on their own – here they just add to the already existing disorder. The filmmakers were no doubt aiming for some kind of high-minded philosophizing but the carrier signal on those ruminations is much too weak here. What can be said – however – is that they at least touch on them, and maybe amid the cheap spectacle that is this disarray of a film, it is possibly some kind of saving grace – or at least something you can talk about with your Halloween night dinner guests, as the credits roll and you sort the candy for other real world horrors.

 

Links for your suitable persual

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Blood_Beast
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051993/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9aQk4Q6Ye8 – Original
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_9KAxuOgKM – MST3K treatment
https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/night_of_the_blood_beast/
http://www.badmovies.org/movies/bloodbeast/
https://www.amazon.com/Night-Blood-Beast-Michael-Emmet/dp/B00009NHAK

 

Footnotes

[1] Rarely is a film so bad that the studio actually refuses to release it. One notable example of this is Tod Browning’s Freaks – which the studio found so horrific that it force-edited almost 30 minutes of its 90 minute length down to approximately 60 minutes. The edits that were removed were likely destroyed as they are considered to be lost. Even with these changes the film was pulled early from the theaters, a woman threatened to sue because she said watching the movie made her miscarry, and it was – believe it or not – officially banned in the UK for 30 years. Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJVXTKkjsxA

[2] Michael Emmet, actor – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0256523/

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Corman

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Corman

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Nelson

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyler_McVey

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