Movie Review: The Beast Within (1982)

Okay, this was on IFC the other night, and I had never heard of it. The last time I watched a horror movie on IFC was the deplorable Wendigo, which was possibly one of the lamest things I’ve ever sat through.

The Beast Within starts in the 1960s where a newlywed couple breaks down in the middle of nowhere Mississippi. The husband goes for help and the wife is raped by some sort of creature. Nasty and right to the point, like most 80’s monster movies. 

Then the movie skips ahead 17 years to where her son is going through all sorts of medical problems and he start mutating into someting weird and eating people.

There is a really complicated plot, and none of it really makes a lot of sense. I mean, I understood what was going on, but people would do things, and I was like “huh? Okay, whatever, go kill some more hillbillies.” 

Spolier alert, let me break down the plot. Basically the boy is possessed by the spirit of the man-monster who raped his mom, said man-monster is half man, half ciccada, and apparently the monster (named Billy) became a monster because he was cheating with the undertaker’s wife, and then was kept locked in the celler and fed stolen corpses.  It is a little know fact that eating corpses causes rapid mutation into ciccada monsters.  So 17 years ago, Billy escaped and went out for a little swamp loving, then he died. Now the new monster (forgot his name) is killing all the corrupt officials who covered up Billy’s fate the first time.

But wait, there’s more… So the new monster (named Michael, thanks IMDB!) is out killing people, and for whatever reason the sheriff can’t seem to figure out that it is the kid, and the kid’s dad just starts inviting himself along during the murder investiagtions (I’ve been on ride alongs, but my local cops won’t let me go from murder scene to murder scene, go figure) where all the various conspirators are being killed.

Then Michael has a pretty cool transformation scene where his tongue pops out and his head swells up like a balloon and he turns into Mancicadda and goes on a killing-spree.  A bunch of people sit and watch him mutate for like five minutes, and one of them has a shotgun, and still doesn’t do anything until it is too late. I don’t know about you guys, but if I’m ever anywhere and somebody starts mutating, I’m going to shoot them until I run out of ammo, and then find something to set them on fire with, but that’s just how I roll.

The last 30 minutes of this movie are actually big 80’s monster movie goodness. Michael kills the rest of conspirators, the plot is explained (kinda), and there is an above average decapitation scene. Then Michael the Mancicadda rapes his girlfriend (apparently girls in this part of Mississippi have a bad habit of fainting under pressure, kind of like those fainting goats) and impregnates her for The Beast Within 2.  

Now for those of you that read this blog when I get political, you know I’m pro-life, but I will take a stand that if you have been impregnated by a giant-insect-homicidal-man-beast-ghost-thing, then in that specific instance, abortion is like, totally cool. 

Overall, the plot didn’t make any sense, the acting was okay at best, and it really was totally cheesy, which means that of course I really liked it.  I lived in the south for a few years. I love Mississippi. I love horror movies set in the south. Hence, MHI being set in the south. Horror is better with a southern accent. It has a certain cool factor. 

Most horror movies for whatever reason are set in southern California.  Probably because the Hollywood people don’t like to travel out to the scary flyover areas. So even when they have something that is supposedly set someplace else, it still looks suspiciously like California.  I hate California.  Lived there most of my life. You could have a rampaging Manciccada in L.A. and nobody would notice, just more dead people to throw on the big pile of other murder victims, then you couldn’t even kill it because the ACLU would stop you because you’re violating the rights of mutants to rape freely, and PETA would protest cruelty to insects, or something. 

The whole Southern Gothic vibe makes for a better movie, even when the movie is only okay, the southern vibe makes it cooler.  The scariest place I’ve ever been is still in one really weird little swamp in Mississippi.

Overall, The Beast Within was fun. IFC has redeemed itself from the stench of Wendigo!


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