Release Date(s)1982 (December 17, 2013)
Studio(s)United Artists/MGM/20th Century Fox (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: C
Based on the novel by Edward Levy, The Beast Within (1982) was directed by Philippe Mora (Howling II and III) and adapted by Tom Holland (Fright Night and Child’s Play). The movie opens with a newlywed couple whose car is stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere. The bride is kidnapped and raped by what appears to be some sort of creature and, years later, the son of this unholy conception begins exhibiting strange symptoms and behaviors, slowly turning into something else entirely.
The Beast Within is an oddball movie in many ways. It’s impeccably directed and shot, with a strong voice behind the camera, yet the elements at play don’t totally work. While there are some effective scenes and makeup effects, none of the movie’s leads are all that appealing. The performances are mostly hammy and range from decent to laugh-inducing. The film certainly gets points for taking an insane concept and just running with it, though, executing its premise in a way that raises somewhat above mediocrity. This is far from a heralded classic, but it has enough going for it that some mild fun can be had.
Whatever the quality of the movie itself, Scream Factory’s Blu-ray transfer certainly won’t be a distraction. This is a very organic presentation, with a high level of detail and consistent grain. There’s real depth to the images, with deep blacks and good shadow detail. Colors are fairly bold with naturally-appearing skin tones, while brightness and contrast levels are basically perfect. Audio is available in an English 2.0 DTS-HD MA track. Dialogue, score, and sound effects are all clean and clear, with nice separation and excellent fidelity. There are no subtitles available, but there are a few extras, including an audio commentary with director Phillipe Mora and actor Paul Clemens, a second audio commentary with writer Tom Holland moderated by Rob Galluzo, the original theatrical trailer, and two radio spots. This is not a stacked release, but the audio commentaries are definitely worth listening to.
Scream Factory delivers a surprisingly strong A/V presentation for a title that many would be happy with even without it. The Beast Within won’t win anybody over with its effectiveness, or lack thereof, but if you’re into monster movies (certainly of The Wolf Man variety), then it just might be up your alley.
- Tim Salmons