The Beast Within (1982)

You know when a horror movie opens with a barely discernible sexual assault committed by a swamp man-thing, you’re in for a fucked up ride. I mean, that’s pretty fucked up even by my standards, and I consider Nekromantik to be a date movie. Don’t worry though, the movie isn’t all swampy surprise sex by moonlight nor is it just attempting to be offensive for offensivities sake, there’s plenty of other ridiculous shit going down that will actually entertain you while you go “what the fuck”.

Beyond the swampy rape that opens this film, there actually exists a story. It’s a confusing one and has at least a few pointless asides and dead ends, but that’s all part of the fun right? Flash forward some years and Caroline, the woman who was assaulted in the swamp, has given birth to the spawn of the swamp man though dear old dad treats him as his own. This familial love isn’t enough to quell the creature inside though, and as Michael gets into his older teenage years, he starts to have episodes and violent outbursts. Of course, because every movie from the ‘80s needs some (read: lots) nonsense, these incidents are always preceded by a deafening cicada chirp/scream. You’d think that they might take this connection and expand on it, but no. They just do it and never really address it. They never take the time to connect the bugs to the creature in any concrete way, unless i was too stoned to miss it.

The acting is passable and though it’s hammy, it really isn’t much worse than anything you’ve likely subjected yourself to already on the journey that is horror movie watching. Most of the actors, aside from the few who are obviously slumming it for a pay cheque, just sort of blankly stare towards the camera or their co-stars and read their lines, with a mixture of the correct emotion and confusion. Thankfully the slummers actually know what they are doing and manage to lift the movie back up to a tolerable level of acting.

The creature effects aren’t terrible, but they certainly aren’t anything write home to Mom about, unless of course Mom is into B-grade rubber monsters. They definitely weren’t breaking any boundaries when they designed the creature, but it still manages to horrify at points, in particular during one particularly satisfying transformation. He looks like the bastard son of Jason Vorhees’s circa the end of the first movie and Troma’s Toxie if i’m going to be completely honest. I guess this predates Toxie though, so maybe it goes the other direction? Something extremely important to think about late at night when you can’t sleep, that is. That said, the creature effects in The Beast Within have that quintessential ‘80s practical look to them that gets me all kinds of excited and for that i’m willing to forgive a lot.

The Beast Within doesn’t really have anything that makes you want to annoy your friends and loved ones with text messages at 2AM insisting they watch it, but it isn’t terrible enough to completely ignore either. It’s just one of those late Saturday night headed into Sunday morning, familiar yet unfamiliar at the same time kinda movies. If you find it for cheap (I snagged mine on sale from Scream Factory) grab it so you can toss it in one night when you need to feel that familiar yet unfamiliar movie feeling. You know, like sitting on your hand and then using it to jerk off, but with a movie.

-Scotty (@drunkgraveyard)

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