I’m up for a gory 80’s horror film as much as the next guy, but one of the most repulsive gems from the era must be THE BEAST WITHIN. Not so much due to its then state-of-the-art creature effects, but because the filmmakers seem determined to make violent rape a repetitive plot point.
Less than five minutes into the film, newlyweds Ronny Cox (Deliverance) and Bibi Besch (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) find themselves stranded on a country road. Eli (Cox) does the typical horror movie thing of leaving his bride in a car in the middle of nowhere while he goes to get help. Caroline (Besch) is violated by a repulsive, human like thing that looks like a muddy creature from the black lagoon, mashed up with The Fly.
It’s unnecessarily graphic and pure eighties.
The film flashes forward 17 years. Eli and Caroline’s 17 year old son (oh-oh) is very ill and seems to be turning into…something.
Mysteries abound. Like….
• How Paul Clemens got cast as their son Michael. He couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag, or in this case, pulsing rubber makeup and a mosquito tongue.
• How we are supposed to be intrigued by a mystery that was basically solved in the opening sequence?
• Why good character actors like Don Gordon (Bullitt), RG Armstrong (Predator), LQ Jones (Casino, The Patriot) and Logan Ramsay (Walking Tall, Scrooged) are all slumming in the same film
• How much better Tom Holland got at his writing job after this mess, moving on to horror classics like “Fright Night” in 1985 and the underrated “Psycho II” in 1983. Talk about a quick learner.
The best thing in the film are the practical (non-CGI) transformation effects by Tom Burman (Cat People, The Goonies). They are slimy, gross, but never very scary. They might have been more effective with a real music score playing behind them instead of the bad TV movie level score by Les Baxter. Laughably bad.
Theatres had warning signs up that vomit bags would be provided at all seats.
They must have sat through this mess in advance.
THE BEAST WITHIN gets a repellent D-.