Review by Steve D. Stones
With titles like Hot Car Girl (1958), Attack of The Giant Leeches (1959) (aka The Giant Leeches), Blood and Steel (1959) and this 1958 film – Night of The Blood Beast, how could any cult movies viewer of forgotten low budget gems not want to be a fan of director Bernard L. Kowalski's films? These lurid titles are enough to attract the attention of any obscure movie fan.
A young astronaut, John Corcoran (Michael Emmet), loses control of his space rocket while en route back to earth. He crashes near Walker's Pass in Florida, where the spacecraft was launched. A photographer, Donna Bixby (Georgianna Carter) and technician Dave Randall (Ed Nelson), arrive on the scene from a nearby space agency tracking station to investigate the damages. The two discover a large hole in the side of the spacecraft as if something forced its way out, and Corcoran lying dead inside the spacecraft. Bixby photographs the wreckage for future investigation.
Astronaut Corcoran's body is brought back to the space tracking station in Florida for an autopsy performed by Dr. Alex Wyman (Tyler McVey) and his assistant Dr. Julie Benson (Angela Greene). Although his body appears to be deceased, his blood pressure and heart rate appear to be normal for a living person. A blood sample from his body reveals strange, abnormal cells that show he is infected with something foreign. Dr. Benson and Corcoran were engaged to be married, so Benson is very emotional about his death.
Later that evening, an unseen creature attacks and kills Dr. Wyman by decapitating him and suspending his body in a medical examination room. Astronaut Corcoran comes back to life at the time of Wyman's death, and the group immediately thinks he's responsible for killing Dr. Wyman.
After an x-ray of Corcoran's chest reveals alien embryos impregnated in his body, the strange creature that killed Dr. Wyman bursts into the room again to communicate with the group, but Randall and Steve Dunlap (John Baer) fire shots at the creature, forcing him to flee the room. The entire room becomes engulfed in flames.
The space tracking station has lost all communications with the outside world. Electrical power has also been knocked out. Randall, Dunlap and Bixby leave the station to track the creature and to discover the source of what knocked out their radio communications. While tracking the creature, Bixby is attacked as Randall and Dunlap fire shots over the creature's head. The creature flees once again.
In a third attempt to track the creature, Corcoran pleads with Randall and Dunlap to not meet the creature with violence, but instead attempt to communicate with it. Randall and Dunlap agree to Corcoran's plan, but are still skeptical, so they take along Molotov cocktails to saturate the creature with gasoline and to ignite him with flames. The group tracks the creature to a nearby cave, where it communicates to the group its plans of an alien race coming to earth to dominate. Corcoran kills himself at the cave to prevent the birth of the alien embryos in his chest.
Night of The Blood Beast had an original working title of Creature From Galaxy 27, and was produced by Gene and Roger Corman. Director Kowalski was only 28 years old at the time he directed the film. The film played on a drive-in double bill with another Roger Corman produced film – She Gods of Shark Reef (1958). She Gods is a complete yawn-fest compared to the superior Night of The Blood Beast.
Watching this film, I can't help but think that perhaps director Ridley Scott may have been inspired by at least the story of Night of The Blood Beast when he created Alien (1979). Many sources report that Scott received most of his inspiration from Mario Bava's – Planet of The Vampires (1965) and perhaps Edward L. Cahn's film – It! The Terror Beyond Space (1958).
The Alexander Laszlo music of Night of The Blood Beast was also featured in Kowalski's 1959 film – Attack of The Giant Leeches. Laszlo's score can also be heard in the 1950s TV space adventure – Rocky Jones - Space Ranger and the 1959 drive-in hit - Beast From Haunted Cave.
Most exterior shots were filmed at Bronson Canyon caves at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. This location was also used in many other cult classic films of the 1950s, such as Unknown World (1951), Robot Monster (1953), The Day The World Ended (1955), I Married A Monster From Outer Space (1958) and Teenage Caveman (1958). Speaking of Teenage Caveman, the creature costume used in Night of The Blood Beast will make an appearance in Teenage Caveman.
Night of The Blood Beast would certainly make an excellent double-feature with Kowalski's other lurid sci-fi adventure – Attack of The Giant Leeches. Happy viewing.