6.5 Overall Score

Quick, easy horror read

Undeveloped characters, feels derivative of Benchley's other books

Book Info

Novel Title:  Beast

Publisher: Random House

Writer:  Peter Benchley

Release Date:  1991


Peter Benchley and his better creation…

There is something lurking in the waters off of Bermuda.  Overfished, the creature is looking for food and finding a new source.  The creature is the Architeuthis dux…rarely seen by man and can reach over one hundred feet.  The squid’s arms are strong enough to crush and each arm contains tooth filled suction cups that can tear apart its victims.  When the giant squid begins to prey on people, Whip Darling is forced to lead a multi-millionaire named Osborn Manning and a scientist named Herbert Talley on a hunt for the elusive Architeuthis and hope that it can be killed before it kills them.

Written by Jaws author Peter Benchley, Beast was released in 1991 by Random House.  The book was retitled The Beast (or even Peter Benchley’s The Beast) with a 1996 made-for-TV movie which had little resemblance to the source material.

Peter Benchley made a career off of exploring the underwater unknown.  The deep (which also was one of the titles of his novel) is one of the last unexplored places of the world and houses mysteries which have not been uncovered.  Giant squids are one such mystery and here they serve the purpose of horror.


The Beast…in glorious TV movie live action!!!

Benchley is in a weird position in writing this story because it feels a lot like ground he’s already treaded on.  Jaws was such an inspirational novel and success that he would have a hard time challenging it…it wasn’t just a story, but a cultural phenomenon.  Here, Benchley has a weird way of getting around that in that Jaws (the novel and also the film) do exist in the world of Beast.  It is referenced so it is a bit of an odd reflexive nature to the story…I can’t say it is egotistical since not referencing Jaws in a situation like this might also be odd.

The book itself is a beach read…It isn’t very heavy, the chapters are short, but also the characters don’t really have the depth of the characters in Jaws.  It also appears that Benchley picked up on something from Spielberg’s version of his film.  In the novel Jaws, the Richard Dreyfuss character dies at the end…Spielberg saved him in the film.  Here, Talley has a similar fate to Dreyfuss in the film and the ending feels more like the end of Spielberg’s Jaws.

Beast is no great work (nor really is Jaws), but it is entertaining.  The idea that something lurks under the water is always scary, but it is even more scary that creatures exist which we don’t even know or understand.

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Related Links:

The Beast (1996)

Jaws by Peter Benchley

White Shark by Peter Benchley

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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