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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Being (1983)





The action kicks off with a voice over that sounds like the guy who does all the movie trailers. He lets us know that the town of Pottsville Idaho has been plagued with disappearances and that a big storm has just passed with another coming in. Then we are treated to a young man running away from something. He gets in a car and is killed by an unseen assailant. Here we are introduced to the sheriff, Mortimer, who is just plain tired. There are some more killings and he figures out that something really bad is happening. Of course, the mayor refuses to believe it and threatens to fire him. It isn’t until the monster crashes a party that he changes his tune. But then we never see that character again.

Eventually Mortimer and the scientist guy, played by the always awesome Martin Landau, track the monster down to the nuclear waste dump. I mean who would think that is where it would be living? They show up and try to shoot it and burn it, but with no luck. Eventually after much sneaking around and jump scares acid does the trick. And they all live happily ever after… except for the dozens of people who were eaten alive by the monster. Got to break a few eggs to make an omelet I suppose.

This movie has always given me such a sense of nostalgia for the drive-in. It has that distinct low budget vibe and sensibility that makes these movies so much fun. It gets right to the meat of the story, doesn’t spend a lot of time on character development because you should know where everyone “fits”. The mayor is a jerk who doesn’t want to hurt business. The sheriff is there to save the day. The scientist is going to be skeptical and make excuses for everything until he gets his comeuppance. Writer/Director Jackie Kong isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel with The Being. Instead she gets things rolling and never lets the fun stop. 

I really do enjoy the creature effects work in this one.
The monster is fun. They do a great job on a low budget making the creature look pretty cool whenever it is on screen. The filmmakers use the plot device of it being able to basically liquify itself to escape from the cars and freezer that it keeps getting locked in. This also allows them to use different arms, tongues, and other such appendages to attack the cast. All of this is latex and on set with the actors. That alone puts a smile on my face. I love some old school monster movie effects work. Most of the kills are off screen and/or tame but we do get a nice heart ripped from the chest gag and some limbs tossed around post meal by the monster. All in all, I was pleased.

Initially I thought that the Being was going to be guilty of some stunt casting as Martin Landau, Ruth Buzzi, and Jose Ferrer all appear. I thought these would be glorified cameos but all of them have larger parts and bring some experience and decent acting to the screen. Landau in particular gets quite a bit of screen time and is an asset as always. Things are just more interesting when he is in a scene.

The Being isn’t a classic, but it is a damn fine example of a drive-in movie. Entertaining and worth an hour and a half of your time I highly recommend this one. You should be able to find it cheaply on DVD or streaming from one of the major providers (Amazon Prime or Netlfix).


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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