Monday, November 21, 2011
DBH Revisits:The Beast Within(1982)
The Beast Within was a staple of the old Joe Bob Briggs show Monstervision back in the late-90s. I remember watching this episode and enjoying both the film and Briggs' commentary so when I saw this on the Netflix Instant Queue, I had to revisit this gem(or so I thought it was).
While driving through Mississippi on their honeymoon, Caroline and Eli MacCleary are stranded on a deserted road when their car is stuck in the mud. Eli is forced to walk several miles down the road to a service station they stopped at earlier to get a tow. While he is gone, Caroline is attacked and raped by a mysterious creature.
Seventeen years later, their son Michael (who was conceived as a result of Caroline's rape) has become gravely ill, and the doctors have no idea what is causing the sickness, only that a pituitary gland has gone out of control. Theorizing that the sickness might be genetic, Eli and Caroline finally confront the past and return to the small town where she was attacked to hopefully discover some information about the man who assaulted her. The local townspeople are reluctant to help, with both the newspaper editor and the town judge brushing aside their questions. But then Eli and Caroline hear a story about a local man who was murdered 17 years earlier, his body partially eaten and his house almost burned down.
Meanwhile Michael has escaped from the hospital and returned to the same town, unbeknownst to his parents. His personality undergoes a frightening transformation, and he quickly begins to attack and kill specific people in the community, including the paper editor and the local mortician, both of whom were related to each other.
After several more revelations, including the discovery of a swamp filled with bodies whose bones show signs of having been gnawed on, Caroline and Eli finally discover the terrible truth about the creature that attacked her those many years ago.
Revisiting this movie all these years later, I think time hasn't aged this film very well. Not because of the storyline of Michael's parents looking for the truth or the gore and transformation sequence, those are great. What gives this a buzzkill is just the prolonged, tedious sequences in between. There's nothing really in those scenes that kept my interest. Perhaps if Paul Clemens had acted better? There are moments in here where I think he phoned it in and that's a shame because The Beast Within deserved better. Also, for a rape victim, Bibi Besch seemed quite well-adjusted. Anyhoo, this isn't a bad film but coulda been soooooo much better.