The Wild Beasts
There's no escape!
Year of Release: 1984
Also Known As: Wild beasts - Belve feroci, Savage Beasts, The Wild Beasts Will Get You!
Running Time: 92 minutes (1:32)
Director: Franco Prosperi
John Aldrich ... Rupert Berner
Lorraine De Selle ... Laura Schwarz
Ugo Bologna ... Inspector Nat Braun
Louisa Lloyd ... Suzy Schwarz
Frederico Volocia ... Schoolboy - Tommy
Simonetta Pinna ... Schoolgirl - Annie
Alessandra Svampa ... Schoolgirl - Alice
This human nightmare begins when thousands of ferocious rats emerge from the city sewers - attacking people on the streets. A young veterinarian, Rip Berner, and his friend capture one of the vicious rats and take it to their laboratory for analysis. But before they can make headway, all the zoo animals are on the streets tearing apart anyone in their wake. Rip has very little time to try and discover the cause of the animals' madness!
The Wild Beasts, remindin' us that when your movie's little more'n an exploitation flick masqueradin' as a morality play against the dangers of drug use, people're gonna have a hard time acceptin' your moral superiority after about the seventh or eighth cute furry animal you incinerate into a McNugget. Man, these 80's Italian flicks, I tell ya, the cops put Michael Vick in prison for less than this. Course, considerin' this thing was directed by the same guys who made Mondo Cane, an' Africa: Blood and Guts, it's possible that they may've been just a teensy bit desensitized by that point. I still don't understand the business model of mutilatin' fuzzy creatures for shock value, though. Whole lotta Italian guys went home alone with a shirt covered in regurgitated rigatoni after takin' their dates to this one, I'm thinkin'.
But speakin' of controversy, it's only been a week since Saul an Blaine Schwartzberg greased the wheels of the Department of Fish and Wildlife to get Lake Gunkamucka opened back up again after an apparent "misidentification" of what was believed at the time to be an endangered Bull Trout a few weeks back, an already we got serious problems. See, last weekend was the annual Lake Gunkamucka crappie tournament, where most everybody in town motors on out to Gunkamucka to try baggin' the biggest fish so they can get their picture taken with this old sun bleached cardboard mockup of Bill Dance an get it hung on the wall of fame over at Walleye's Topless Dancin' & Bait Shop. For you foreign readers out there, that's just about the highest honor you can bestow upon a resident of the lesser Pacific Northwest quad-state area. Billy Hilliard an I were out there just like everybody else (Cleave Furguson woulda gone too, but there's still a little tension between him an the 80-year-old codgers who're normally out there at 4:30am every mornin' after they prodded Amos Anderson for details regardin' the name of the fisherman who caught the alleged Bull Trout an got the lake closed in the first place), cept I mostly kept my eyes on the portable Bentley Deluxe an this week's flick cause unlike some people, I take this job seriously. Which is alright cause it was a pretty slow day anyway, bout the most fun we had was flyin' down the bank in Cleave Furguson's Aroliner to soak Mark Skidman an Fannie Ogglesby while they were rootin' around in the bed of Mark's '68 International. Course, as you might expect, Aesop Marlin was out there too, an'd led the pack all day for the biggest fish... least until about eight minutes before the close of the tournament after Mark'd gotten what he was after from Fannie an the two of 'em reeled up their lines to find an extremely stiff, skanky, 4.25lb crappie corpse at the end of Fannie's line, an just like that, Aesop'd been dethroned for the first time in five years. I thought his head was gonna explode like a pinata at Barry Bonds' birthday party when the winner was announced. Guy was howlin' somethin' about 364 days of preparation down the toilet an started in with accusations that Fannie'd caught the fish at some earlier date an stashed it til the day of the tournament. Then he went too far an started castin' aspersions on Fannie's honor til about 36 guys stepped outta the crowd an proceeded to turn his face into a can of Dinty Moore stew. I noticed Billy was part of said assault force, but I don't wanna start no rumors. So anyway, now Saul & Blaine're payin' Fannie $9 an hour to have 'er picture taken in a coonskin bikini with the diners at The Rural Mural, an Aesop's threatenin' to quit takin' the city slickers out on varmint safari. I really couldn't give a rip, so long as the outta towners don't start filterin' into Mack's Stacks of Manly Snacks, cause the first time I hear some weenie wearin' Birkenstocks complain about the grease content of Mack's burgers, I may not be able to restrain myself.
I hate small town politics. Fortunately, we don't hafta dwell on that cause I got lots to say about what has to be the finest Italian exploitation flick of the 1980s to feature a cheetah versus Volkswagen chase sequence. You may not respect what they did to get their movies into the video stores in a timely fashion, but there's a certain morbid fascination surroundin' these kinda flicks, so I'ma share a few of the things I learned watchin' the masters of the disgustin' Mondo documentary try to make a movie without the aid of subjects who create the sensationalism for 'em. First, if you're the kinda modest girl who's afraid of seein' people's reactions to you ridin' your man's gear shifter, maybe the backseat of a car parked in the downtown district of Frankfurt ain't the best place to rock out with your dock out. Second, Germany is way ahead of us in terms of makin' accommodations for the disabled, cause the blind man's study is loaded with encyclopedias an reference materials that're either all in braille, or the result of a very cruel joke on the part of his housekeeper. An third, seein' elephants rampagin' through the streets doesn't always mean you're completely sauced. One would hope that these types of reports are not only taken seriously, but also reported immediately to any nearby Planters processin' plants. So thanks again you guys, you're welcome in my house anytime... just stay the hell away from my pets.
I learned a lot watchin' this, but it's pretty clear to me that, when it comes to dealin' with an unexpected cattle stampede in the Burger King drive-thru, you Europeans have no idea what you're doin'. So I figure it might be nice to give somethin' back an provide you with some helpful tips for the next time you're caught in traffic with a buncha alpacas an don't know what to do. The first thing you'll wanna know, so as to not waste any time, is that your horn won't do diddly squat unless you're right beside the beast. Try blowin' the horn when they're facin' you head on an they'll just stare atcha like a zoned out hippy watchin' a lava lamp. This means you're gonna hafta get behind 'em so that you'll be able to bump 'n grind like an Ecstasy-laced floozy at a techno rave as needed. Oh, an don't even think about gettin' outta your car if you're wearin' slick soled shoes. Unless, of course, you enjoy layin' on the asphalt with a dampenin' sensation on your back as the patty sinks into your silk shirt. Second, an this one's important, there's always gonna be one stubborn sirloin that won't move even if you get your fender underneath it an try pushin' it around like a vacuum cleaner. I recommend carryin' a Hot Shot for these kinda situations, but if you ain't got one the car's cigarette lighter works just as good. Just make sure you get your arm back inside the window real quick or you're liable to end up with extra corners in it when Bossy starts kickin' like a line dancer on the Vegas Strip. I've also got a contingency plan for you hippies out there who've forgotten that you're essentially dealin' with a half ton of unprocessed leather sofa that could kill you pretty easily. For you, I recommend grabbin' either the tow line (bungee cords'll work in a pinch) or a weather chain outta your trunk, tyin' one end to your trailer hitch, loopin' that sucker around the animal's neck, an draggin' that little dogie like Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Vacation. After awhile it'll start to see things your way an get its bovine backside in gear, I guarantee it. But the most important thing to remember, is that livestock're a lot like children. You've gotta make sure they realize you're in charge, an understand that if you slip an show mercy even once, they'll be runnin' all over you like trailer trash at a Black Friday sale.
The movie begins with a porno saxophone soundtrack playin' over the top of this sewer drainage ditch/used syringe montage while everybody in the audience grabs a barf bag cause they can practically smell the impendin' philosophical undertones brewin' up like kid stew at a witch's house. Then we head over to the zoo where they employ all the guys who're considered too sick to be allowed into the mafia cause they need people who can chop up severed horse heads without gettin' queasy, AND who're expendable in the event of lion-related fatality. So once everybody watchin' the movie decides to boycott the zoo forever, we pan over to Dr. Rupert (Rip) Berner, who is a cross between Tom Selleck and Rick Rude an shops at the same clothing store as The Hamburgler. Rip's a veterinarian at the zoo, so he spends a lot of his down time talkin' to this guy who looks like Blinkin from Men in Tights when he's not tryin' to get his girlfriend (Laura) to do it like the apes over in the primate house. But Rip's actually got a purpose today, an hasta tranquilize this Bengal tiger til it convulses like an epileptic sea lion gettin' electroshock therapy, before checkin' 'er out an noticin' that 'er cub's been chewin' 'er teats worse'n Peter Bark in Burial Ground. Elsewhere, Laura's daughter, Suzy, is playin' an answerin' machine message from 'er Mom that's longer'n War and Peace on audiobook, an screamin' at 'er buddy (Tommy) to quit mashin' the door buzzer like a hospital bedridden Heroine addict with a morphine button before she hasta pants 'im an leave 'im hangin' from the balcony for the cleanin' lady to find. While that's goin' on, Blinkin' an his seein' eye dog're passin' by this couple who're makin' linguini with clam sauce in the backseat of their car, only once Blinkin's outta sound, approximately 800 rats come crawlin' outta the sewer drain cause the Ninja Turtles started fumigatin' an end up turnin' the couple into cacciatore when they won't tell 'em the last known whereabouts of Willard. Back at the zoo, Rip's tryin' to figure out why all the animals've got their fur up like Donald Trump in a windstorm, an how come Laura refuses to marry 'im despite his havin' enough chest hair to knit a bath mat.
Then Rip drops 'er off at some science lecture where this bald guy's railin' against the Vatican, an while he's gone these two dweebs back at zoo central command hafta head outside an investigate why their control panel's makin' Atari noises an lightin' up like Katy Perry's flapdoodles in the "Firework" video. Unfortunately, it's right about this point that the elephants tear down the wall like Ronald Reagan an end up crushin' one guy under a power pole an causin' all the animal cages to open up like Heidi Fleiss at a Hollywood after hours party, resultin' in the second guard gettin' torn apart by a buncha P.O.'d felines that're all whacked out on catnip. Meanwhile, Detective Nat calls Rip while he's in the shower washin' his meatballs to tell 'im about the rat scratch fever he's dealin' with downtown, an demands he get down there as fast as he can with as much Gorgonzola as he can carry. So Rip heads down to the crime scene to try to negotiate a truce with the Rat King, cept the rats're apparently done takin' orders an the exterminators hafta take out their flame throwers an turn the place into a North Korean barbecue while Rip gives Nat this "you got me outta the shower for this?" look. But about that time, Blinkin finally picks the right key an heads inside his place so he can sit around listenin' to a "sounds of the Amazon rainforest" LP, only his dog can't stand that new age tree huggin' hippy meditation mantra music an has 'imself a blind taste test. Poor guy never saw it comin'. Elsewhere, Rip's headin' back to his lab at the zoo to run some tests on a coupla rats, cept when he gets over there the place looks like it survived a soccer riot an he hasta call up animal control an tell 'em to get Siegfried an Roy out there like yesterday. Then he spins some DNA around in a flywheel for awhile an determines that the sample's acidic an goes down smoother when shaken, not stirred. I'm sure that's a big problem an all, but we got even worse problems out in the streets, where the elephants're causin' serious traffic delays an compachydermin' all the Italian sports cars into Borg cubes when they're not stanglin' people with their trunks or mashin' their brains into headcheese. Which ain't surprisin', cause they're elephants, an elephants always remember the jerkoffs that think it's funny to try feedin' 'em cigarette butts instead of peanuts.
Then Rip an Nat try deliverin' their samples to a laboratory with real doctors for verification, only by this point the whole city's been turned into Discount Lion Safari an they hafta stop an investigate a sightin' of Chester Cheetah, an by the time they can track 'im down he's chasin' this Volkswagen that's makin' noises like a cat coughin' up a Lego. Eventually the lady drivin' the VW Bug t-bones some guy who's tryin' to get to the Olive Garden before the never ending pasta bar closes, an Rip hasta haul 'er oil-pan-seared hinder outta the car an reassure 'er that she don't look so bad an that some guys're into chicks with no eyebrows. Meanwhile, in an air traffic control room disguised as a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, these dorks grant the incomin' flight from Buenos Aires clearance to land, without noticin' the pack of elephants out on the tarmac tryin' to catch a flight to Nairobi, an the plane ends up gettin' diverted into a nearby power transformer. This kills the power in half of Frankfurt, includin' the subway Laura's ridin' on 'er way to pick up Suzy from Frau Lipheir's Ballet Reich for Tikes. Then things really start to go swirlin' down the ole toilet when one of the tigers hops on board without depositin' a subway token, at which point everybody starts tramplin' each other like they're tryin' to get into a Who concert, an Laura ends up havin' to lug this little girl with a chocolate Hitler-stache around after 'er Mom ditches 'er like a guy who spent the first half hour of his blind date textin' his mother. Fortunately, just as the tiger's about to tear into 'em an declare that they're "grrrrrrrrrreeeaaaaaaat!" with a side of risotto an a glass of red wine, Rip an Nat show up to tranq Tony an haul 'im back to the Kellog's corporation before he gets too much bad PR an loses his job. Unfortunately, things aren't quite so hunky dory over at Suzy's ballet school, cause pretty quick this polar bear busts in lookin' for a Coke machine an gets P.O.'d when he doesn't have exact change an hasta maul Maryshnikov an lackadaisically pursue the fleein' children while he works out a keister cramp. Got a good twist ending on this one, so I'ma leave off here with the little brats fleein' the wrath of the apathetic polar bear who diligently follows his trainer in search of the tasty mackerel that's always just a little bit outta reach. I love that scene, cause you can tell the bear's just completely outta fucks to give about the whole movie thing.
Alright, well, it's an Italian flick from the 80's that features animals, which means you don't take your girlfriend to it, and you don't expect to see that little "no animals were harmed in the making of this film" line at the end of the credits. The bizarre thing is that, at least as far as the horror directors go, they ALL seemed to do this when animals factored heavily in the plot. Apparently, there was a serious peer pressure epidemic plaguing the Italian directors guild back then. I don't mean to get graphic, but I feel like I should probably give a brief rundown of the gratuitous animal cruelty for the people out there who're likely to either get sick, or put a boot through their TV screen. This way, nobody has to do any serious explaining when their spouse comes home from work. So, as I mentioned earlier, there's the rats getting roasted alive with flame throwers, but also; a cat being attacked by rats and vice versa, and later on there's a scene where some of the zoo animals sneak into a slaughterhouse and attack the cows and pigs inside. That kinda thing's hard to watch on National Geographic, let alone when the domesticated farm animals are penned up with nowhere to run, so the score is gonna suffer for the suffering the directors caused. Which is unfortunate, because most of the time when the big cats are attacking humans, the movie does an exceptional job of making it look realistic, where a lot of these types of movies can't. I'd imagine the director probably doesn't have much more respect for human life than he does for animals, so at least he's consistent. Now, you'd probably think that alone is scandalous enough, but this movie has another huge no-no in it. I don't even understand how this made it into the VHS release of this movie, but for about one second early on in the flick, there's a scene where the daughter is supposed to be waking up for ballet class, and when she sits up one side of her chest is uncovered. I don't know if movie distributors reviewed what they were putting out on tape in those days, but because the movie was unrated (and possibly never even shown in theaters), it never went before the MPAA ratings board where that would certainly have been caught. I don't claim to know exactly where the line for "acceptable" child nudity ends, because it's not unusual to see kids as old as five wandering around Wal Mart with no shirt on, but I'd guess this girl is probably 9 or 10. And I'm pretty sure that, even when the kid's too young to have developed, most people aren't gonna be okay with this. It is extremely brief, and possibly so brief that people don't actually notice it, or are perhaps afraid to draw attention to it because of what people might say if they do, but when I was reading through all 10 of the IMDB reviews for this thing, only ONE review made mention of it. I don't even know what the heck to do with this thing. I mean, are you a monster if you can overlook that one second shot that's reasonably distant, if still completely gratuitous and tasteless? And should that be more or less troubling than the animal cruelty? Cripes, these movies are supposed to be fun, not the kinda BS that causes a serious moral dilemma.
Anyway, while I grapple with this thing, let's look at the individual elements and see if the exploitation was at least pulled off competently. The plot is a familiar one, with nature having declared its willingness to go nuts at a moment's notice sometime in the mid-70's. The only thing that really changes from flick to flick is the cause of the animal brain scrambling, and honestly, this is one of the more interesting and realistic explanations I've seen in this type of movie. As a whole, the movie isn't as good as Dogs or Day of the Animals, but as far as the driving force behind the insanity, The Wild Beasts' catalyst actually makes a lot more sense, and because revealing it would possibly give away the ending (which has an amazing twist), I won't be explaining what that cause is. The acting is difficult to gauge, as the movie was shot in Italian with English dubbing over the top, but as far as I could tell the physical acting and screams/reactions seemed pretty decent. Dubbing was even pretty good, with the exception of some really, really stupid dialog. And of course when the dialog is terrible in a dubbed movie, you never know if it was awful to begin with, or if it just became awful through bad translation, so who knows. But for a low budget foreign title, I thought the acting was fine, such as I'm able to assess. Here's who matters and why: Lorraine De Selle (Cannibal Ferox, House on the Edge of the Park, Damned in Venice, Women's Camp 119), Ugo Bologna (Nightmare City, Zombi 2), John Stacy (Revenge of the Dead, The Headless Ghost), Monica Nickel (Women's Camp 119, SS Girls), Alessandro Freyberger (Luna di sangue), Amedeo Salamon (The Beyond). The special effects, for the most part, are pretty good. Kinda cheating when you're abusing animals to make your shots look more realistic, but as far as the special effects go, that's only a minor part of the overall picture. The real horse's head is more excusable than the rest of the said cruelty, as it was part of an animal that was being fed to the zoo animals, but you may wanna brace yourself for that one too, as it happens right outta the chute. Additionally, we've got a lot of animal inflicted wounds on people, with a particularly gory scene involving rats eating the faces of a couple who're neckin' in their car. It's also important to note that all the scenes where the animals are attacking people look pretty convincing, save the occasional fake tiger's head and some atrocious polar bear claws. Those two shots were pretty laughable, and the movie would've been better off had they ended up on the editing room floor. But besides those two exceptions, pretty well executed. There're even a few car crashes, including one crash and burn, and another scene where a motorcyclist plows into a car and flies head first into a window that doesn't break. I watched that scene several times and I'm 99% sure it was actually a person doing the stunt.
The shooting locations were pretty good as well, and it really makes you wonder how they got away with having these wild animals running amok on what look to be fairly well traveled stretches of road, particularly that scene at the airport. I mean, they've got a herd of cattle running down the middle of the street in this thing, and I'd guess there were a good thirty, forty cows in that herd. The animal wranglers certainly earned their keep on this one, that much is clear, but I still wonder how they managed to get a major city like Frankfurt to cooperate with them when they probably didn't have much to offer in the way of financial compensation. I guess some things man is not meant to know, but it certainly gives the movie a real air of plausibility nonetheless. Good locations all around though, which include the zoo, a slaughterhouse, a school house, a police station, and a small laboratory. I suspect at least most, if not all, were exactly what they were depicted to be. Laboratory might have been a repurposed room, but I'm not certain. The soundtrack is hit and miss, and doesn't have a whole lot of variety. Really, we've got three different tracks (or at least types of tracks), with the first being a jazz piece that works well enough for the opening montage, but is excruciatingly out of place when it crops up several more times during the more serious parts of the movie. Then there's the hybrid synth track that's fairly atmospheric and pretty tense, which they do manage to utilize at the appropriate moments. And lastly, is the bit of classical music and the "sounds of the rainforest" deal that get played over two particularly violent attack scenes. That sounds bizarre and probably even amusing if you've never seen it, but it manages to come off as artistic and a little bit disturbing in a way that I can't quite explain. With just those three tracks in mind you'd have to say the soundtrack is lackluster, however, I'd also point out that the use of sound *effects* for this movie is exceptional, with lots of nasty chewing sounds included for the benefit of the attack scenes. So the use of the sound effects give the movie a bit of a boost in an area where it needed one. Overall, the movie is actually fairly well made in terms of competency and execution, and easily passable on its technical merits. But when you get to the other half of its score, namely, how well I liked it, that one second I mentioned still plagues me, and after the hit it takes from the animal cruelty, I don't see how I can pass it. Cut that one second out and it passes. But, if you can get past that, and the animal cruelty, it's really a pretty impressive display of what a low budget crew can do when properly motivated.