The Beast Within
He Was On The Verge Of Becoming A Man... Eater!
Year of Release: 1982
Running Time: 98 minutes (1:38)
Director: Philippe Mora
Ronny Cox ... Eli MacCleary
Bibi Besch ... Caroline MacCleary
Paul Clemens ... Michael MacCleary
Don Gordon ... Judge Curwin
R.G. Armstrong ... Doc Schoonmaker
Katherine Moffat ... Amanda Platt
L.Q. Jones ... Sheriff Pool
Logan Ramsey ... Edwin Curwin
John Dennis Johnston ... Horace Platt
Ron Soble ... Tom Laws
Luke Askew ... Dexter Ward
Meshach Taylor ... Deputy Herbert
Boyce Holleman ... Doc Odom
Natalie Nolan Howard ... Court Clerk
Malcolm McMillin ... Gas Station Attendant
Some boys have raging hormones…but his are absolutely furious! 18-year-old Michael MacCleary -- the progeny of an unholy union between his mother and a swamp beasty -- is on the verge of becoming a man...EATER! And as the inherited evil in his blood gnaws at his soul, Michael must return to the swamp to uncover the terrifying secret identity of his father -- before his nasty natural tendencies force him to make jambalaya out of the locals!
The Beast Within, the movie that proves that you don't have to be attractive to be in the movie business. Well, the movie that proves you didn't have to be attractive to be in the movie business, before 1990. This has got to be the ugliest group of people ever brought together during any point in history that were not employed by P.T. Barnum. I don't mean to be superficial, but these people could peel the paint off of a '57 Chevy just by looking at it. But that's alright, ugly people have all the same rights as everyone else, or so I'm told, and should be treated with dignity and respect. What I'm trying to say is, somebody's looks should under no circumstances keep them out of such quality roles as Cicada-Monster rape victim. Actually, Bibi Besch plays that particular role, and she is the one exception to the parade de ugly. Now don't get all stuck up an offended. Ugly people are great. Ugly people need to get more roles, even if for no reason other than the fact that they're ugly. Know why? Cause ugly people are THE NORM. Most people are ugly people, I'm ugly people, and I can come to grips with it. Now, hopefully we've embraced our inner ugly. And if you're not ugly, you really should try to be more like everyone else, you're drawing too much attention to yourself. Perhaps unwanted attention. Bibi is the only non hideous person in this movie, know what happens to Bibi? Stop reading here if you don't wanna know what happens to Bibi. Oh an don't read the summary. You already read the summary. Well why'd you do that if you don't wanna know what happens to Bibi? Bibi gets raped by a half man, half cicada type creature. Maybe for no reason other than that she's not ugly. Think of ugly as a good self defense mechanism against half man/half cicada monsters.
Hopefully everyone is now evolved beyond being discriminatory towards the ugly. Fact is, all these people, perhaps because they're so ugly, perhaps not, come across as real people. I believe these people live in this place. I believe these people in these roles, and choosing actors is similar to special effects in one very fundamental way. If they don't look real, everything else about the movie may be fine, but the house has been shaken off of it's foundation right from the get go, and nothing else fits properly. Now, I know what you're thinking, and I know what you did too, so don't take that attitude with me or I'll have the cops at your door before you can say "cicada rape." You're thinking, why the hell do we care if the characters are believable? We're talking about a movie in which the rape victim of a cicada man-monster gives birth to the cicada man-monster's baby, and said baby grows up to be a chip off the ol' block. So why do the characters need to be believable, the main plot point isn't, right? Wrong, douche monger. That makes it all the MORE important. These movies with completely incomprehensible plot points, that are the byproduct of a severely deranged and/or damaged mind must be grounded in some sort of reality. And one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways of doing that, are by having a believable cast. Believable people, are CHEAP. And cheap is good, because then the creep in charge of making this insanity possible have all that extra coin for more important things, like monster transformation scenes. And I have to say, by 1982 standards, this movie's monster transformation scene is really pretty impressive. Not to mention drawn out and more than a little bit icky. Excellent special effects in this one, the one downer is probably that most of the other monster scenes take place at night, and are tough to make out. But that could be intentional, if the nutbar in charge didn't think they came across well with better lighting. It's been said that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, but as far as movie special effects are concerned, these movies are forgotten, and there's no way they'll ever be repeated because nobody's interested in making realistic looking effects anymore. They're more interested in making uncultured troglodytes' eyes light up at the fast, shiny, computer generated fakery.
In addition to the good special effects, it's got a pretty good plot, by B movie standards. I like B movies, and thus, it has a good plot. The one problem is that all the inbred malcontent Kurwin family members are a little tough to keep sorted out if you're not paying a lot of attention. As long as you can remember that the ugly one is marked for death, you should be able to keep it straight. So basically, back in the good ole days (not that the people or location of this movie have changed much in the last 600 years), a local guy gets over friendly with Angry Kurwin's wife, he comes home at an inopportune moment and catches them, mid humpty dance. So Angry Kurwin makes like Jack Ruby and exsanguinates the guy with hot flying projectiles, and his wife. Or so we're lead to think. He did kill the wife for sure, but I never really understood if he killed the guy, or just wanted it to seem like he had. Because in fact, he's got the guy (his name was Billy Connors) locked up in a cellar so he'll have someone to hurl whiskey bottles at when he's in a foul mood. Meanwhile, Judge Kurwin, his brother, makes sure Angry Kurwin makes like O.J. and gets away with it, so he can keep taking his problems out on Billy and keeping him alive with the corpses of all the locals that expire in town. Which brings us to Creepy Kurwin, who's the local undertaker. Creepy supplies Angry with the corpses so that Angry won't tell anybody what Creepy does with the cadavers when nobody's around. At least that's what I took away from the scene where Creepy's coping a feel on one of the cadavers. There's one other Kurwin but he gets his neck chowed on early in the movie and I can't remember how he fit in. He was definitely the ugliest Kurwin, and seemed to have the least reason for killing. So that's the back-story. Angry kept Billy down there feeding him corpses for awhile, but Billy escaped, got rapey with Bibi Besch, was killed by the Kurwin crew, and 17 years later is taking over the body/mind of his incredibly ugly son. There's some "cycle of the cicada" nonsense that I guess predicted when the kid would go ape shit. Because cicadas apparently go dormant for a long time and reemerge much later. See? Pretty deep stuff going on here. Serious symbolism. So Billy, who is possessing little Billy, wants to make all the Kurwins into chigger chow. And that's the plot, in a cicada shell.
There's some other stuff that's not all that relevant, like the ugly kid developing a crush on a local girl. After he sneaks out 5 or 6 times R.G. Armstrong and the rest of the hospital staff start to get a clue and they put the kibosh on that, but it's mostly just subplot to generate suspense, and setup an ending that allows for a sequel. I won't give it away, but there's more cyclical symbolism going on. Kind of a bummer that it didn't get a sequel. Worse movies than this have gotten sequels. Much worse movies. Who knows, Hollywood may one day get desperate enough to make one. More likely, unfortunately, is that this will be remade. Badly. But that's a given. Modern remakes are terrible, almost without exception. And don't think for a moment that just because this movie is repulsive that they won't remake it. They'll water it down, cast attractive, unbelievable characters, cook themselves up a shitty CG cicada man-monster and it'll have it's world premiere on the Syfy channel. Mark my words, it'll happen. My accusing finger does no more to stop these assholes than the Pope's accusing finger does trying to prevent fornication. I am a little surprised there was no sequel, it had a budget, it looks to have done pretty well based upon what it probably cost, why wasn't there a sequel? Afraid it'd be too much like the original maybe? Oh, well, no movies made sequels that were practically the same movie that did well. Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Jaws, and I could go on obnoxiously proving my point, but you get the idea. Some day I'm going to run out of these weird B movies from a time before the movie industry changed it's format, and that will be an unfortunate day. You don't wanna be around when that day comes, it won't be pretty.
Overall, The Beast Within is a lot of fun. It's everything movies can never be, again. Believable cast, good shooting location, and a story that, while I won't claim for certain is unique, is certainly one I've never seen before. Or seen anything similar to. Classic 1980s horror at it's best. Don't expect a blockbuster, that's not what you'll find here. This is actually kinda good. Nah, there are some good blockbusters. Not many, but a few. You can almost always assume that the more hype something has, the shittier it is, and the reason for that, is good movies don't need hype. They will find their audience, and that audience will spread the word. Lousy movies are hyped to no end and even disappointed their target audience when everything is said and done. But then, these days, movies are made as nothing more than a device to make money. Which in general, may not be a bad thing, but in the entertainment industry is a horrible thing. They will still be successful, because people enjoy going to the theater. Realistically, they'll go even when what's playing doesn't particularly appeal to them. It's "something to do." And nothing I say or do will ever change that. But in the meantime, I'll be sitting at home on Friday night. Watching Ghoulies, Critters, or Troll. The only difference is, I will always enjoy what I watch, I'll pay less money to do so, and I can do it without pants.