I love transformation scenes in a horror movie. You tell me a movie is going to have some sort of awesome practical effect transformation scene and you can bet your ass I’ll be giving it a watch. The people who made The Beast Within knew that a sweet transformation was going to sell tickets, so that’s how they marketed the movie. Beware the graphic transformation in the last 30 minutes, but be warned you may not make it through it!! Ahh, classic stuff. Did the actual marketing work? I’m not sure, but as for me, I thought the movie was great and I’m thankful Scream Factory brought it to Blu-ray for all to see. Anyway, let’s continue on transforming this review into something worth reading…
Release: Feb 12th, 1982
Short nitty-gritty plot description from the back cover is as follows: 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!
Tatlock’s Quick ‘n Dirty Recap: Recently married Eli (Ronny Cox) and Caroline (Bibi Besch) MacCleary are traveling the countryside, when the tire on their car suddenly blows. Leaving his wife alone in the car, Eli heads out to get help. Being an 80s woman in a horror film, Caroline hears some noises in the woods and goes to check them out. A few hip thrusts later from an unseen assailant, we flash forward 17 years and find out that Caroline has survived and gave birth to a son named Michael. Unfortunately for the MacCleary’s, Michael is changing and it ain’t puberty that’s the cause, but a beast… within!!
Tatlock’s Opinion: Well, we already know that this movie has a kickass transformation scene and sweet final 30 minutes, but what about the rest of the movie, those pesky 60 minutes. Honestly, it ain’t bad, but it ain’t as good as it could be. The story is a little muddled and the explanations are a little on the light side. A few scenes jump around and the story moves along slowly, dealing out bits and pieces of information, but not enough to really sell what exactly is going on. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it isn’t rocket science theatre here, but maybe a more clearer understanding of the background story would’ve been nice. Also, what’s up with the MacCleary’s suddenly moving into this town for a little while. I thought Michael was holed up in a hospital pretty far away, but a quick drive at night, he’s there with his family and everyone is okay with that.
Sorry, I kinda went on a rant there. I do apologize. Let’s get back on track here. The Beast Within has a few problems with its story pacing, but it also has some pretty gnarly scenes of gore and body disfigurement, that I’m sure any fan of beastly endeavors would get a kick out of it. The movie isn’t bringing home awards, but it certainly fits in nicely in the 80s horror era. Rounding out the package is solid acting from the cast, which consists of some recognizable faces, such as Ronny Cox from RoboCop fame and R.G. Armstrong, who you may know from a little film called Predator.
Blu-Ray Opinion: Scream Factory has given us a nice looking transfer, that keeps the grain structure of the 80s intact, but brings out some clarity you normally wouldn’t see on older formats. The audio is clear, but sometimes the dialogue can be a little low. I found myself cranking up the volume every once and awhile just to hear things. As for the special features, they aren’t anything huge, save for a few trailers and a commentary track, which I have yet to listen to, but anything is better than nothing. For a more detailed look at the Blu-ray, please visit blu-ray.com.
Verdict: I wasn’t entirely convinced I was going to like The Beast Within, but once those 30 last minutes of sweet transformation and gore happen, I gotta say it came out a pretty solid winner in my horror book. Give it a chance and I think you’ll feel the same.