19 September 2008 | Prof-Hieronymos-Grost
First rate Brit Horror
"Beasts" (1976) Nigel Kneale is perhaps best known for his Quatermass series of writings and also some Hammer films. Here he has gathered a delightfully varied group of stories, that to this viewers eye seem like an extended Amicus production, some of them would not be out of place in such a film. What is good about this one off series is that they are written with an obvious passion for mystery and the macabre, Kneale delights in telling us his stories with one eye firmly placed on examining the science of these mysteries, as a result, the final films are that much more sinister and perhaps scarier. All these films are very talky and rather slow, but ultimately they all have features that will reward the patient viewer.
Special Offer(1976) Richard Bramall 5/10 The every day workings of a supermarket are thrown into disarray when stock mysteriously begins to explode and get thrown from the shelves. This coincides with the arrival of a new member of staff, a dowdy, spotty teenager Noreen Beale, who is immediately disowned by members of staff and customers alike who don't care much for her. Is she responsible or is the store being haunted by an its own invisible mascot? Special Offer has some good ideas that are reminiscent of Horror classics Carrie and Poltergeist, we are never really sure who or what is responsible, a slow but steady start to this series.
During Barty's Party(1976) Don Leaver 8/10 A businessman Roger Truscott, returns home to his secluded home to find his wife Angie in a state of terror, she doesn't know why, but puts sit down to a dream she had, of a couple of amorous lovers being killed and their yellow car being abandoned? Very soon they hear scratching noises under the floor boards, they put it down to rats, but the noises seem to be following them around the house, Angie turns up the radio to drown out the sounds, the broadcast is interrupted by news reports of thousands of gigantic rats that have caused chaos and have been sighted in the area. The Truscotts soon realise they are trapped in their home by thousands of intelligent rats. This is a rather unsettling story, the foe remains unseen which builds up the tension tremendously, its slow to build up but the finale is quite terrifying.
Buddy Boy(1976) Don Taylor 6/10 A playboy (Martin Shaw) decides to buy an old Dolphinarium and turn it into a Night club/sex shop, the owner seems desperate to get rid of it in a quick deal, believing the premises are haunted by the spirit of a dolphin, the famous "Buddy Boy" who was killed in mysterious circumstances years previously. Lucy is a former employee who now squats there, she believes the owner Crisp killed him. Novel idea, that drags a little, but the performances are decent and keep you interested. The ending is a little abrupt and open to interpretation.
Baby(1976) John Nelson 8/10 A vet and his pregnant wife, peter and Jo Gilkes, move to the country to start a new life in a busy country practice. While renovating their farmhouse they find a large urn hidden in an alcove in a wall,seemingly there for a long time, inside they find the dried out remains of a "creature", is it a lamb? A pig? A monkey perhaps, they can't quite tell, Peter decides to have it taken to a lab for testing, the workmen in their home tell them to get rid of it, stating it could be an evil charm to bring harm to its recipient. But before Peter can do this, Jo begins to hear strange noise around the house, she investigates further and soon believes her child may be at risk. Spooky tale, we are never sure what is going to happen until the end, the creature is unsettling too.
What Big Eyes(1976) Donald McWhinnie 8/10 Bob Curry is a very dilligent RSPCA officer who inquires into the illegal importation of rare animals, in this instance its Romanian Wolves. His snooping leads to him to a seemingly innocent looking family pet shop. Here he is given shirt shrift by owner Leo Raymount (Patrick Magee) who tells him its none of his business what he does with them, Curry persists and Raymount regales him with tales of his secret scientific experiments into Lycanthrophy. Curry is dismissive at first, but soon begins to question whether or not there is any credence to his claims. This is an excellent scientific exploration of werewolves, again its very talky, but the dialogue is enthralling and the performances are excellent.
The Dummy(1976) Don Leaver 7/10 A down on his luck actor Clyde Boyd, on the verge of a nervous breakdown after the collapse of his marriage, becomes more disturbed on the set of his latest Horror film, when he realises that the man who stole his wife is also starring in it. After some speedy counselling from the producer who will stop at nothing to keep the production going, Boyd begins to believe he is becoming the monster he is portraying. The costumes in the film within a film are third rate as you might expect, but it's a fine exposition on the horror film business.