8/01/2017

It Is Time to Unleash ''THE BEAST WITHIN''!

The horror genre has a ton of movies that get frequent love from fans, some of which would certainly make mainstream audiences scratch their heads as to what their appeal is. But, one film that seemingly gets overlooked, expect by the most ardent of horror fans, is the truly amazing and bat-shit crazy, cicada monster flick The Beast Within (1982). Directed by Phillippe (The Howling II and III) Mora and written by genre favorite Tom (Fright Night, Child's Play) Holland, this bloody creature feature is unlike anything you've seen or are likely to see.
The bonkers tale, begins like this: Newlyweds Caroline and Eli MacCleary (Bibi Besch and Ronny Cox) are driving through Mississippi. Their car breaks down on a deserted road, cause of course that would happen. Eli has goes looking for help by heading to a gas station, that they passed by earlier. Meanwhile, a creature is being held captive at a nearby house. He breaks free of his chains and escapes. Back at the broken down car, the couple's dog hears something and decides to investigate. Caroline, who allows him to go (who the fuck lets their dog loose in some unknown road, at night no less, in the first place?!), decides it was a dumb idea (well duh, I could've told you that!) and looks for him. Her dog, sadly, gets mauled and killed by the monster. She hits her head on a tree and knocks herself out. The monster then rips her clothes and rapes, yes rapes (!!!) her! Eli and the gas station workers find her unconscious on the forest floor.
Flash forward fifteen years later, the couple's son Michael (Paul Clemens), who actually is a result of the rape, is very sick. The doctor cannot figure why the fuck his pituitary glad is growing out of control. They decide to go back to the town where Caroline was attacked, in case this is some sort of genetic disease.  As they ask around, they find out that the town folk ain't very friendly or helpful to their questioning.
They do eventually find some help from Sheriff Poole (L.Q. Jones). And, they eventually end up finding skeletons and chewed up bones buried in the forest. Before the bodies are discovered, though, Michael is being driven to kill and eat (!) town folk by an evil influence. There are also the sounds of the annoying cicada insect that accompanies precedes his kills. After, he offs his first dinner, er, I mean victim, he runs away. He is incoherent and eventually crosses paths with beautiful girl next door Amanda (Katherine Moffat), who he develops a crush on. Her abusive dad ain't to happy about them dating. As he goes in and out of the local hospital, Michael racks up a body count. And, on his last hospital stay fully transforms into something truly hideous, and somewhat cicada inspired, and that is when the body count really starts to rise!
For an admit ably, silly little movie, it sure does have a lot of plot doesn't it? And, there is actually a lot more that happens, but I cut it to the cliff-notes, version if you will. The point is actually just how fucking bonkers the whole movie really is. The Beast Within  rocks hard cause it just doesn't give a flying fuck where it goes or how wild the path that route might be.
Mora would go to make a fuck load of movies, and it's kinda sad that garbage like the The Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf (actual subtitle, not me attempting to make a bad joke) is more renown than this is. That bag of lupine excrement isn't worth a single frame of the magnificence of this masterpiece. Yet, maybe cause of Sybil Danning's amazing mammories, that ones gets talked about a lot more. To hell with that. I am here to throw some worship to this fucker!
Mora actually keeps things in line and builds some real good tension. The bloody climax is all kinds of ass kicking madness. The one thing this movie is known for, though, is the wild transformation scene. In fact, they must've all known that is the movie's money-shot, as it was part of the advertisement (look at the poster at the top of this article to see what I am talking about)! The movie is accused of having bladder overuse and abuse. Those who complain about this are probably lacking in taste and should go watch ET rip-off Mac and Me, instead, since those crappy FX are probably more their liking.

Said practical effects are incredible! Admit ably some parts don't hold up quite as well, today, but overall the make-up FX work by Tom Burman is superlative. I fucking love the final monster, who is both scary and imposing.  The choice of the gross looking, though admit ably harmless, cicada bug is an interesting and crazy choice. The gore here is truly excellent as the movie wallows in cannibalism, decapitation, exploding head, gory squibs, and more. It really is as one of the bloodiest R-rated movies of the early 80s. The fact that monster rape get thrown in, only further pushes this one out of the safer realm that some cookie-cutter slasher movies, from the same era, had chosen to go.
Michael is doing his best impersonation of a character from THE EMOJI MOVIE! Either that or this is his reaction to seeing it!

It should be noted that screenwriter Tom Holland based his script very loosely on a book of the same name by Edward Levy. There is very little that is similar between the book and movie. Holland would go on to prolific work in the genre, including writing some genuine classics like Class of 1984 and Psycho II, and eventually writing and directing other classics like Fright Night and Child's Play. Personally speaking, I think Beast ranks alongside his best work, and it could very well could be his most insane.
Do you think he just wants to listen to Michael Jackson's THRILLER? Cause, I sure do!

Another aspect that's crazy about this loony movie is how good is the cast. The movie actually takes itself seriously, as does its cast, and, somehow, it works. As, I stated before, Mora has a good control over the subject matter and drives the plot forward. He could not have done this as well, had the cast not done as well as they do in their roles.

Our ''hero'' Michael is played well by Paul Clemens. He is likable in his more human form, then downright intimidating as he turns evil. I have been a huge fan of Ronny Cox since I first saw him in Robocop as a kid. As the dad, this might be one of his most likable and heroic roles. He and Bibi Besch, as his wife, help to keep all the silliness in some grounded check, making you care. Katherine Moffat, here cast under Kitty Moffat, makes for a very appealing love interest. She is beautiful and sweet and makes for a great and believable girl next door, or at least, girl you wished lived next door. The rest of cast is equally good.
I first caught The Beast Within, when it aired on cable, when I was younger. I had read about it in Fango and Gorezone, and remembered that legendary horror writer, and my idol, Chas. Balun didn't like it all that much. But, that he did think the gore and the FX were great. I actually watched this one with my grandpa. Even though the nudity, rape, and splatter were trimmed down, I still enjoyed it, quite a bit. My grandpa thought it was quite silly, especially the whole monster rape bit, but he at least was mildly entertained by it.

Years, later, I would finally own it when Scream Factory released it on Blu-ray. From the moment they announced that they would be doing the disc, I was excited! On one of their sales, I took the opportunity to buy it.  Having not watched it in years, and then only in an edited for TV form, I was pumped to revisit it. And, man, it was even more awesome than I recalled it being! Since, then it has become a perennial revisit favorite, of mine.
The disc itself looks and sounds great. There is not a whole of extra features, just the trailer and two running commentaries (one with Mora, the other Holland), but it still a must own! Especially now, that there has been a price drop in it in many places like Amazon.
Man, a bad migraine will anyone wanna kill!

The Beast Within is just a fucking awesome and wild time. Chock full of graphic gore and a wild transformation, the impressive FX are a feast for the eyes. The plot is increasingly insane, and would probably never be done today, especially the monster rape, which would surely be considered a no-no. Accompanied by some serious talent, in front and behind the cameras, it raises the ridiculous premise to heights that probably are more than it deserves. If you have never seen this, you are doing yourself a disservice. Go now and unleash the beast!

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