The Beast Within (1982)

the beast within poster 1982 movie
3.0 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great transformation scene

Story needlessly complex, monster isn't as scary as kid when he's half monster

Movie Info

Movie Name:   The Beast Within

Studio:   Katzka

Genre(s):   Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):   February 12, 1982

MPAA Rating:   R

the beast within michael paul clemens

Best monster Letterman jacket since the Teenage Werewolf

When newlyweds Caroline (Bibi Besch) and Eli MaCleary (Ronny Cox) accidently go off the road near the town of Nioba, Caroline is gruesomely raped by an unknown attacker.  Seventeen years later, Caroline and Eli’s son Michael (Paul Clemens) is suffering from a rare medical condition for which the doctors seem to have no answers.  Caroline and Eli are forced to return to Nioba to uncover the identity of the man who might have attacked Caroline, but the town of Nioba is holding secrets.  When Michael escapes from the hospital and arrives in Nioba, a series of murders begin to occur…and the past might be back to haunt     .

Directed by Philippe Mora, The Beast Within is a horror B-Movie.  The film is a loose adaptation of Edward Levy’s 1981 book (which was being written at the time of production) and was generally panned by critics.  The film has gained a small cult following over the years.

I primarily remember the VHS cover of The Beast Within.  It was always on the shelf at the local video store growing up and it was one of those oversized VHS boxes…with the film daring you to watch the last thirty minutes without covering your eyes.  Needless to say, The Beast Within has its moments, but the makers’ dare is easily accomplished.

the beast within transformation scene paul clemens

Worst migraine ever

The problem with The Beast Within is that the story is so unnecessarily complex.  The basic set-up works (sort of) with a woman being raped by something that disappears into the woods and because of the horrors it will awaken, the couple raises the seemingly normal kid without telling anyone.  That all works.  What should have happened is that it could have been a Bad Seed situation or just something unleashing in the kid at puberty.  Instead, there is this weird backstory with a guy (who is somehow monstrous) in a cellar, channeling of spirits, and cicada monsters…the basic story concept all falls apart and you stop feeling sorry for the kid who is trapped by genetics.

The cast is both good and bad.  Both Bibi Besch and Ronny Cox are strong as the parents of the troubled teen (though the script lets both actors down).  Paul Clemens doesn’t entirely do a bad job as Michael, but once again, it is the script that hurts his performance (though I admire everything he had to go through as an actor).

the beast within monster rape scene

Other than being all rape-y and cannibalistic, he’s kind of cute with his big eyes

The film is widely hailed for its special effects transformation near the end of the movie.  It is rather impressive with air bladders and stretching skin to give it a monstrous head exploding change.  Though kind of cool, it goes on way too long, is inconsistently edited, and the final result is a monster that is less intimidating than Paul Clemens’ human version of Michael (with his nasty teeth).

It is the final thirty minutes combined with the script problems for a letdown that isn’t fear inducing.  The monster becomes laughable and then you have another gross sexual assault.  Is the monster a cicada?  How did that happen?  Was that a normal guy who raped her even though he could talk to animals and ended up transformed?  How did he channel himself through Michael (especially since the monster couldn’t speak).  It doesn’t make much sense, but the movie falls into so-bad-it-is-good and “classic ’70s/’80s horror so it can slide by as a fun watch in this sense…no eye covering needed.

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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