The Beast Within (1982)

Man, talk about a movie that is out to assault its audience. The poster for this says, “The shocking nature of the subject matter prohibits revealing the frightening transformation that occurs in this film.”

They aren’t kidding.

This is one of those legendary HBO movies that kids breathlessly described in my grade school classes, daring one another to watch and others claiming that it was so frightening that they kept seeing the monster from the movie in their windows.

Yeah. I can see why.

Directed by future Howling sequel maker Philippe Mora, written by Tom Holland and based on Edward Levy’s 1981 novel, Eli (Ronny Cox, RoboCop) and Caroline MacCleary (Bibi Besch, MeteorWho’s That Girl) get stuck out on an abandoned road just as some kind of inhuman monster tries to break free. It escapes, brutalizes Caroline and gets shot.

Seventeen years later, whatever it was has a son. And he’s slowly growing sicker.

Before you can debate a woman’s right to choose, their son Michael is eating and murdering everyone he can get close to. That’s because he’s now possessed by Billy Connors, the man who is really his father, a cannibal who has left behind an entire mass grave of gnawed up bones.

This movie is basically an excuse for that aforementioned transformation scene, which is amongst the most pus-ridden and disgusting moments of filmmaking the world has ever seen. In short, it’s awesome and worth watching the rest of this movie just to witness its power.

There are also some awesome foreign titles for this movie. In France, it’s known as Les Entrailles de l’enfer (The Entrails of Hell), while in Germany it’s called  The Angel Face: Three Nights of Horror.

A great cast of supporting players has been assembled, including R.G. Armstrong (Pruneface from Dick Tracy), Don Gordon (The Towering Inferno), L.Q. Jones (yes, the director of A Boy and His Dog) and a young Meshach “Hollywood” Taylor as a deputy. Paul Clemens, who plays the monstrous child of the MacCleary’s, was also in the Sybil Danning movie They’re Playing With Fire.

I can say one more nice thing: the poster for this movie is beyond great. It’s still striking and makes me want to watch this movie again nearly forty years after it was designed.

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