Night of the Blood Beast

November 4, 2013 at 12:06 am (7 Heads, Night of the Blood Beast) (, , , , , )

Night of the Blood Beast – 1958 – United States

Night of the Blood Beast was produced by Gene Corman, brother of Roger Corman. While not as prolific as Roger, Gene produced creature features for AIP in the 50s (Attack of the Giant Leeches, Beast from Haunted Cave), and beach party flicks in the 60s (The Girls on the Beach, Ski Party, Beach Ball).

Returning from a space mission, a manned capsule crashes in the Florida hills. The pilot’s body is recovered by scientists. Studying the apparent corpse in their isolated lab, they discover the pilot is actually in a “hypometabolistic state”. He also hosts an alien parasite and is transforming into an alien human hybrid.

Tension grows. An electromagnetic field disables the lab’s power and communications, the vehicles are sabotaged, and someone is gorily murdered. When an alien monster is spotted, the scientists prepare for battle. Just then, the pilot awakens. He shares a psychic connection with the alien and tries to discourage the scientists from attacking it, but their paranoia and xenophobia is only encouraged when the alien takes a hostage.

Eventually, the alien learns English and addresses the scientists. It suggests aliens and humans should live in parasitic symbiosis. The scientists believe mankind will be enslaved and immolate the alien with flare guns and Molotov cocktails. As it burns, one asks, “Do you think we made the right decision?” “Let’s hope so.”

Night of the Blood Beast’s ending is thought provoking. The scientists and alien fight for the survival of their respective species and eschew morality to achieve it. Concealed beneath extraterrestrial terror are questions about galactic ecology and the value of life.

Of course, Night of the Blood Beast is still a cheap monster movie. The alien looks like a mole-man mixed with Swamp Thing, and menaces the scientists to warbling strains of Theremin. Legends suggest the film was shot in 7 days, which is completely believable. But Night of the Blood Beast proves the value of a good concept. Based on an idea by Gene Corman himself, the story might demonstrate his aspiration to make something beyond schlock. Or maybe I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Rating: 7/10 Shrunken Heads. Learn all about hypometabolism.

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