Night Of The Blood Beast, 1958. 6/10

Not bad at all. An interesting plot, good pacing, and decent performances. If you feel a touch of deja-vu, it’s because Night of the Blood Beast is reminiscent of the iconic The Thing From Another World.

Like The Thing, the monster here lurks around the isolated lab, busting its way in, killing, and getting torched by the beleaguered scientists. Isolation helps maintain our suspension of disbelief: it adds to the sense of danger, and makes the experience more plausible, as the cast naturally is just a handful of people, easily contained in a small area. A low-budget movie can’t adequately depict a larger-scale menace.

Blood Beast also builds on the replicant theme by having the astronaut John host the parasitical aliens in his blood “using his body for a breeding ground”. That’s an even creepier concept than the pods in The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

The monster is plenty hokey, sort of like Big Bird with leprosy. Still, at least it looks like a monster. Like countless sci-fi movies of this era, there’s an interest in ‘understanding’ the monster. Rather than the usual naive scientist getting hosed as he tries to use sign language to ‘communicate’ with the alien/monster, here it makes more sense. John has a literal, biological connection with it.

There’s suspense about the alien’s intentions until the climactic cave scene. Even the doctor’s murder is explicable, given the alien’s value system. John’s suicide neatly simplifies things, as that destroys the replicant process. The alien’s final ‘we’ll-be-back’ threat is a good touch.

Night of the Blood Beast successfully shows many facets of the ’50s sci-fi genre. Even the spacecraft looks cool, at least when it was in flight. When it crashes, though, we’re stuck with what a cunning reviewer aptly terms a “septic tank.” Also, the alien/monster disembarks like a chunk of sentient crab grass.

Still, this is watchable entertainment; in fact if it were nothing but Georgianna Carter standing around looking bewildered, I’d still be watching. 5/10.

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