The Beast Within, released in 1982 and directed by the French Australian director Philippe Mora, who was also known for greats such as Mad Dog Morgan, has largely gone unnoticed in the classic horror repertoire of the late 1970s and 1980s. It’s not a movie to watch for inspiration, to reminisce about our childhoods, or even for a relaxing night in. Nonetheless,
The Beast Within is firmly entrenched in our psyche. The Beast Within, is a horror B-movie. The movie is a crude adaptation of Edward Levy’s 1981 novel, which was in the process of being completed at the time of filming and was widely derided by reviewers at the time. Over time, the movie has developed a modest cult following.
Part of the film’s lasting impact stems from its promotional campaign when it was launched on home video many years ago. Although the VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray cover of The Beast Within has changed over the years, the one we remember most vividly featured a picture of a demonically possessed half-human, half grotesque creature in great torment, with the film challenging you to watch the remaining thirty minutes without hiding your eyes, running from your seat or screaming.
And it was this frightening catchphrase that scares the 12-year-old inside us the most. Without revealing too much away, let’s just note that the special effects team goes beyond in the best possible manner in displaying Michael’s complete body’s horrific change in the movie.
Even while compared to scenes using today’s excellent digital effects, The Beast Within’s metamorphosis scene is unsettling, made all that much more horrific by the murky, grainy picture quality and the terrible auditory embellishments.
He Was On The Verge Of Becoming A Man… Eater! – The Beast Within 1982
The film begins when Eli McCreary, played by Ronny Cox, and Caroline McCreary, portrayed by Bibi Besch, go off the road during their honeymoon in rural Mississippi. Because their automobile is bogged in the mud, Eli decides to go to a local service station for assistance. Before he could even return, an unknown entity murders their dog while brutally assaulting his new wife Caroline. Caroline goes on to become pregnant as a result of the experience.
This movie was released at the end of the horrific transformation phase of horror films, which was ended by John Carpenter’s movie, The Thing. Other movies included in this genre An American Werewolf in London as well as the Howling, which prompted the development of a new Oscar category for these type of Visual Effects.
About Seventeen years after the incident, their child Michael, who is played by Paul Clemens, is suffering from an unexplained illness and looks to be on the verge of death. Caroline and Eli leave him in the hospital and return to Naiobi in Mississippi, a tiny village near where the attack occurred, thinking that the solution to Michael’s condition lay in the identification of Michael’s biological dad.
The local magistrate, Judge Curwin, played by Don Gordon, as well as newspaper editor, Edwin Curwin, played by Logan Ramsey, are skeptical of their inquiry into the horrific murder that occurred on the same evening as Caroline’s assault, wherein the victim’s remnants were partially devoured and his house was burned down.
The creative credits for the film are strange and deceptive. Author Edward Levy sold the movie rights to “The Beast Within,” but he suffered from writer’s block due to which he missed the publication’s deadline for his book. The title was given to scriptwriter Tom Holland, who devised an original tale for his script. With the film nearing completion, Levy penned a book version of Holland’s script, however Holland received no creative credit for the book.
Michael’s nightmares about locking something horrible in a cellar persist. He flees from the hospital, snatches a car, and travels to Naiobi. He is finding himself drawn to Edwin Curwin’s mansion while there. Curwin allows him in since he thinks he’s the neighborhood grocery delivery boy. Michael is overtaken with murderous impulses and attacks and partially devours Curwin. Amanda Platt, played by Katherine Moffett, discovers him a few homes away. She takes him to the doctor’s office since she is concerned about his health.
Dr. Schoonmaker, who is played by R.G. Armstrong contacts Eli as well as Caroline, but everybody is startled to learn that Michael’s health is improving. Tom Holland wrote an 84-page spec script that went into great detail about the Curwin family and what transpired with Billy Conners, whose remnants can only be seen in the dungeon in the movie, as well as why Conners turned into a cicada to fully restore himself and assault Bibi Besch’s character seventeen years before.
Michael pays Amanda a visit. They go out for a stroll in the forest and confess their feelings for one another. However, when they embrace, Amanda’s dog unearths a partly devoured human hand. Sheriff Pool, played by L.Q. Jones is contacted, and he, Judge Curwin, and Eli begin excavating the area in search of more remains. Horace, played by John Dennis Johnston, Amanda’s father, enters and pulls her away, forbidding her to meet Michael again.
Later that evening, Michael infiltrates the morgue and murders Dexter Ward, played by Luke Askew, a Curwin and Platt cousin. He also pays a visit to Tom Laws, who is played by Ron Soble, the local alcoholic, and introduces himself as a man named Billy Connors. Due to the MPAA, the picture was far bloodier than the final version that was exhibited in theaters. Although the network drastically edited the picture, the movie also became a mainstay on the Monstervision series by Joe Bob Briggs.
Michael rushes to Amanda’s house to keep her safe from the murderer, but her father chases him away. Schoonemaker informs Eli and Caroline at the hospital about a mystery second, underlying layer of a weird bodily substance that emerges in Michael’s x-rays. Later, Michael informs Eli and Caroline furiously that he believes Eli is not his dad, but that Billy Connors actually is.
Eli wants answers when Tom meets them the very next day to inform him that actually Michael isn’t guilty of the killings, but instead Billy Connors is. Michael murders Tom before going to Amanda’s residence. Recognizing that his violent impulses are back, Michael begs Amanda to leave the city before throwing himself out from the window in an effort to commit suicide. Michael’s x-rays in the movie were actually Paul Clemens’ x-rays. Metal strips were put to Clemens to give the appearance of subcutaneous abnormalities.
Sheriff Pool as well as Eli arrive at the Collins residence and discover a malformed skeleton shackled in the cellar. Michael changes into an ugly monstrosity in front of Schoonemaker, Horace, Caroline, and Judge Curwin in the hospital. Michael murders Horace after surviving several bullets to the chest and flees into the night. Outside, his human skin has sloughed off. Judge Curwin requests that he be protected in the correctional facility.
He tells that Lionel Curwin imprisoned Billy Connors in his cellar; Lionel, a crazed fundamentalist Christian, shackled him there after discovering Billy with his wife in bed together. Lionel murdered his wife and then left her body for Billy to consume.
Lionel, the Curwins, and Ward kept obtaining corpses for Billy to consume which made him turn into a horrific monster. The metamorphosis sequence, which the audience was sold on, was not handled appropriately, according to writer Tom Holland. He believed that Director Philippe Mora stayed “too long” on Paul Clemens, not cutting away to show the reaction shots from the other performers in the room, which could have made the effect much more horrifying than it was.
Michael storms the county jail, breaching the walls in order to behead Judge Curwin. He then pursues Amanda, whose car has gone off the road. He pursues her into the forest near where Caroline was assaulted. He forcefully performs intercourse with her there. Michael assaults Eli when his parents, Schoonemaker and the Sheriff arrive. Caroline pulls out a shotgun and blasts Michael in the skull, instantly killing him.
The McCreadys as well as Sheriff Pool stand awkwardly next to Schoonemaker, who is cradling Amanda’s mutilated body. Under the monster suit, Paul Clemens had been unable to understand Philippe Mora’s command during the climactic assault scene with Amanda, so Mora instructed him to advance by placing his hands on Clemens’ buttocks. When studio officials saw the dailies and observed a mystery hand fondling the monster, they were absolutely bewildered.
Why should you watch The Beast Within 1982?
Philippe Mora has done a number of weird films in his underappreciated career, with critics calling some decent, some genuinely bad. This movie is probably one of his best ones. ‘The Beat Within’ is filled with creepiness and terrible deaths. The fascinating supporting cast is an extra draw for spectators. ‘
The Beast Within’ is rarely discussed in conversations about horror films from the 1980s, but it should be. This amusing and successfully spooky B horror film is one of the finest, and most underappreciated, monster pictures of the 1980s. The tale is inventive, with a touch of old-school horror and a fair dosage of building tension, and it’s peppered with some surprisingly good murder sequences.
The grisly makeup effects aren’t awful, and this movie has one crazy ending as well as a wild transformation scene. Directionally Philippe Mora does an excellent job of giving the movie a beautiful southern Gothic atmosphere while also creating an oppressive sense of dread. The Beast Within is a horror film that is underappreciated. It’s a genuinely unforgettable horror journey with no dull moments. Check it out, enthusiasts of creature features.