“BEAST WITHIN” filmmakers debate the transformation in exclusive documentary clipMovies/TV,News Michael Gingold
The 1982 monster flick THE BEAST WITHIN is famed for its climactic transformation scene—but its creators aren’t all in agreement on whether it goes too far. They offer their conflicting opinions in an exclusive clip from the new overseas Blu-ray that you can see past the jump, along with exclusive comments from the filmmakers.
The excerpt below comes from “Within THE BEAST WITHIN: An Oral History,” a half-hour documentary created by Edwin Samuelson for the Japanese (region A) Blu-ray released this week, which we previously reported on here. It features appearances by screenwriter Tom Holland, director Philippe Mora, FX creator Tom Burman and star Paul Clemens.
Clemens clarifies his on-camera comments for Fango: “I greatly appreciated seeing the eloquently expressed recollections of both Tom Holland and Tom Burman—good friends of mine—and only regret that I seem to be directly contradicting Burman’s dissatisfaction with the bladder effects having been taken too far in the transformation scene. Whereas, to be more exact, while I agree that those effects were taken to extremes, I liked the fact that they directly mirror an earlier moment of foreshadowing where my doctor, played by the late, great R.G. Armstrong, squeezes a rubber toy—known as an ‘Obie’—whose head expands in exactly the same way the mechanical ‘medicine ball’ head does. That just tickles me, extreme as it is!
“Also,” Clemens continues, “toward the end of my bit, I ended up inadvertently taking credit for the work of another good friend of mine, Lisa Morton, who I worked with at the Burman Studios happily sculpting reanimated corpses for the film ONE DARK NIGHT. For the record, it was Lisa who sculpted the little-girl corpse with the doll. The ones I did were the blonde lady with the prayer beads and Bible and a mummified African-American gentleman. There—I feel better now!”
Clemens also feels good about the documentary as a whole (“It was fun to do—especially being there while my good friend Philippe shot his part of it—and Edwin’s interview questions were such that I was put totally at ease and had my memory readily sparked”), as does Holland. “What pleased and surprised me was the way Edwin’s doc illuminated parts of making the original that even I didn’t recall,” the writer tells us. “Kudos to Paul, Tom and Philippe for keeping so many of the production photos, storyboards, etc., and giving them to Edwin, who did a great job of restoring them.”
Holland, who revealed his plans to remake THE BEAST WITHIN here, remains grateful that the movie they made over 30 years ago still resonates with fright buffs. “I have been surprised and pleased by the worldwide fan interest. I think a lot of the credit goes to the great casting job done by Logan Ramsey, an excellent actor himself and friends with many of the performers in the film. It’s a very strong cast of character actors. Ronny Cox and Bibi Besch are terrific, and a special tip of the hat to Paul, who did a memorable job with Michael. Philippe Mora got the performances, which elevated the picture far beyond the genre fare of the time.”
Giving THE BEAST WITHIN that extra touch was part of Mora’s m.o. at the time, he notes. “Whenever I think I’m making something commercial, it ends up being ‘arty,’ ” he tells us. “Whenever I do something ‘arty,’ it ends up being commercial. THE BEAST WITHIN is somewhere in between. I saw this movie as something between Kafka’s METAMORPHOSIS, where our hero wakes up as a cockroach, and a Sam Peckinpah over-the-top violence orgy. Which is why I cast every Peckinpah alumnus I could get my hands on!”