The Beast Within: Special Edition on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review

The Beast Within

The Beast Within is a film I hadn’t seen before, or even heard of prior to this release, but Ronny Cox was so damn good in 1987’s original Robocop as OCP big cheese Dick Jones.

Here he plays Eli MacCleary and, in a film starting in 1964, his car breaks down when he and the missus are out for the evening. Off he goes in search of help, leaving wife Caroline (Bibi Besch) and dog Thor to sit tight until he returns. Unfortunately, they both decide to stretch their legs, which doesn’t turn out to be a particularly great idea for either of them. And surely it was also a bad idea that they left the lights on when they got out?

Fast-forward 17 years later, which brings up to date (well, almost to when the film was released), and their son Michael (Paul Clemens) is in hospital with a condition that’s making his body grow up too fast, whilst also falling in love with local blonde hottie Amanda (Katherine Moffat).

While the identity of the beast is given to us early on, the film plows a very slow furrow for the most part until around 75 minutes in, when the beast comes into full effect with special effects that are sickeningly gross but fucking awesome all the same, for an early 80s film. It also shows that film-makers can be so lazy these days when they just knock up a load of CGI, yet The Beast Within is of a time when they had to work hard on prosthetics, and these provide great entertainment.

Cast-wise, while Ronny Cox is okay in this, he didn’t impress me as much as I was hoping for. In place of him as ‘top dog’ on this film is Don Gordon as Judge Curwin, and when he gets angry, he gets VERY angry, and really enjoys getting stuck into the role.


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The film is presented in the original 2.35 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high defintion. There’s the usual slight hazy look that’s present on most Arrow releases, but to a lesser extent here, and when you get close-ups on people’s faces, the HD definition really shines through. And I’m a sucker for a film shot in Anamorphic Panavision, with its trademark convex effect.

For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV with a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.

Sound-wise, the film was made in stereo and it comes across fine here with no issues.

The extras on this disc are as follows, and are in HD:

  • I Was a Teenage Cicada: The Making of The Beast Within (45:43): A big making-of featuring chat from key cast and crew members including screenwriter Tom Holland, special effects supervisor Garry Elmendorf, actors Paul Clemens (Michael), Katherine Moffat (Amanda) and John Dennis Johnston (Horace).

  • Storyboarding The Beast Within (13:29): Director Philippe Mora talks you through the original storyboards for this film. It’s as simple as that, and a great extra for big fans of this film.

  • Gallery (4:42): The most-chaptered short extra I’ve ever seen. 53 chapters denote a title card and 52 images from the film.

  • Trailer (1:27): Oooh, and this one comes with a warning! Not because the trailer was made at a ratio of 16:9, but because it bigs up the final 30 minutes so much, that even YOU might not survive! Eeek!

  • Booklet: Also included in the package is a luscious 40-page booklet featuring a piece analysing the film by journalist Lee Gambin, then a set report from Robert Martin, which was originally printed in the October 1981 issue of the Twilight Zone magazine, plus information about the process of making the transfer.

  • Audio commentary: with director Philippe Mora

As you put the disc in, the menu bursts into life with clips from the film and a piece of the main theme. There are subtitles in English, but when it comes to the chaptering, I feel one should come every five minutes on average. Arrow, like many other distributors, go for a low 12 however long the film. I would like them to increase that number.


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FILM CONTENT
PICTURE QUALITY
SOUND QUALITY
EXTRAS
5
9
7
5
OVERALL 6


Detailed specs:

Cert:
Running time: 99 minutes
Year: 1982
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: May 12th 2014
Chapters: 12
Cat.no: FCD922
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 2.0 Dolby Stereo
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50

Director: Philippe Mora
Producers: Harvey Bernhard and Gabriel Katzka
Screenplay: Tom Holland (based on the novel by Edward Levy)
Music: Les Baxter

Cast:
Eli MacCleary: Ronny Cox
Caroline MacCleary: Bibi Besch
Michael MacCleary: Paul Clemens
Judge Curwin: Don Gordon
Doc Schoonmaker: R.G. Armstrong
Amanda Platt: Kitty Moffat
Sheriff Pool: L.Q. Jones
Edwin Curwin: Logan Ramsey
Horace Platt: John Dennis Johnston
Tom Laws: Ron Soble
Dexter Ward: Luke Askew
Deputy Herbert: Meshach Taylor

Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.
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