Hella Halloween: The Beast Within!

Posted: October 1, 2018 in Movies
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It’s Halloween month once again at Hella Movies. So be on the look out for some looks at old 80’s and 90’s horror gems and some new ones too!

The Beast Within is a off it’s cake. If that term is alien to you it means “this film is crazy”. Beast Within is a film that I glanced over on Netflix again and again. Finally I figured I’d look it up on the IMDB and see what the story was. The director, Philippe Mora, I had no idea about but I did recognise the name of the gentleman who adapted what was a book into this feature film and that is Tom Holland. Horror fans will know who Holland is due to his work on the original Fright Night, Child’s Play, Psycho II and Class of 1984. Tom Holland is a genre treasure. So what the hell was I was waiting for? I hit play and sat back to see what The Beast Within had to offer and I was not disappointed.

The film kicks off in the 1960’s. A newly married couple has the unfortunate luck to break down in the middle of nowhere small town America. Having not long passed a garage the groom heads off to get help leaving his new wife and their dog (dog lovers beware) alone. The bride is brutally attacked and raped by some…thing. Sixteen years or so later we catch up with this couple – Eli and Caroline MacCleary (Ronny Cox & Bibi Besch) and their sickly teenage son Michael (Paul Clemens). See Michael is very ill. His parents have no idea what to do and the doctors are clueless. If Michael doesn’t get some help soon he will die. Caroline, fearing for their child’s life, forces Eli to face a shared nightmare from their past that will force them, their son and a small town to come to terms with a secret that is the stuff of nightmares.

As The Beast Within is based on a book it is, I’d say, a slow burn. It’s not the type of movie I expected it to be which was a Fright Night style horror/or slasher movie akin to My Bloody Valentine. It’s more of a family drama wrapped up in this twisted horror shroud which eventually breaks down the family aspect of the movie and forces the whole show into a brutal horror movie that, seeing as it came out in 1982, still packs a punch and managed to shock this viewer. The small town setting is awesome in how spooky and dated it looks. Even for a movie set in the early 1980’s the town looks like it is trapped in an even earlier decade than that! Small police force, a morgue, a town mayor who also acts as THE judge over all court matters and small town news paper. All of which play key roles as Eli and Caroline attempt to unravel just who was responsible for her brutal attack and how their son ties into a dark secret that this town looks to have never recovered from.

When it comes to horror the film does not let fans of the genre down. The kills range from brutal to down right gore filled. One sequence in particular, while not a kill so to speak, is horrific, wild and the stuff of nightmares. This body horror scene rivals anything out of John Carpenters The Thing and I found myself reacting to the scene much in the same way the shocked and terrified characters were in the film as they witness it for themselves. The actual threat of the film, I want to be vague even though it’s revealed early on, is key in hooking the viewer to the emotional dilemma the central characters of the film face. Once the last act kicks in we get a full on creature feature which is shockingly haunting and scary in how it goes about its carnage and bloodshed.

All of the cast do great work. None more so than Ronny Cox and Bibi Besch. Watching them trying to figure out how to save their son rang true throughout the film. I found myself thinking about how those scenes would play if more established actors in this decade – not dropping any names or shade – attempted to try and pull off the same emotional range. They both really nailed their roles. The true villains of the film all do their roles justice and frankly you’ll no doubt find yourself rooting for their demise as the plot progresses.

This is a smaller film from the early 80’s that went right under the radar for me. It has some crazy creature effects, brutal kills, an engaging story, solid direction and a awesome horror movie musical score. I really dug the score. Check out The Best Within as chances are this may have gone under the radar for you too and it is a horror/mystery that is not just worth checking out but one which has stood the test of time. It’s currently on Netflix UK and Arrow Films, should it depart Netflix, has a home release of the movie available.

 

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