The Beast Within (1982)

R | 98 mins | Horror | March 1982

Director:

Philippe Mora

Cinematographer:

Jack L. Richards

Production Designer:

David M. Haber

Production Companies:

Metro Goldwyn Mayer , United Artists
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HISTORY

End credits note that GMC Trucks and Oldsmobile Automobiles were provided by Vista Group, and promotions were handled by Associated Film Promotions, Inc. Producers include thanks to the MS Film Commission, Ward Emling, Walterine Odom, Jackson, MS, Mayor Dale Danks, Jackson Chief of Police Ray Pope, Hinds County Sheriff J. D. McAdory, Raymond, MS, Mayor E. E. “Jack” Jackson, Raymond Town Marshal Clyde Hancock, Bolton, MS Mayor Lawrence Butler, and Dr. Charles Mangin of the Whitfield State Hospital.
       Although actor Ronny Cox is credited as writer and performer of various country songs for the movie, the songs are not heard in the final film and the song titles are unknown.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, producer Harvey Bernhard was inspired to develop the story with screenwriter Tom Holland after reading a publisher’s catalog description for Edward Levy’s novel, The Beast Within, which had not yet been published. Bernhard and Gabriel Katzka’s preparations for the production were first announced in Army Archerd’s 7 Oct 1980 “Just for Variety” column in DV, which claimed that the film was originally intended to take place in KY. Multiple contemporary sources confirmed that principal photography began 9 Feb 1981, in and around Jackson, MS. A 12 Feb 1981 United Artists casting announcement stated that the film was expected to be released in late 1981.
       Production notes cited that filming took place in Raymond, MS, and the Jackson Baptist Hospital. The entire first week of shooting occurred outdoors, and at night. A news item in the 4 Mar 1981 HR stated that actress Bibi Besch had to be rushed to the hospital during filming ... More Less

End credits note that GMC Trucks and Oldsmobile Automobiles were provided by Vista Group, and promotions were handled by Associated Film Promotions, Inc. Producers include thanks to the MS Film Commission, Ward Emling, Walterine Odom, Jackson, MS, Mayor Dale Danks, Jackson Chief of Police Ray Pope, Hinds County Sheriff J. D. McAdory, Raymond, MS, Mayor E. E. “Jack” Jackson, Raymond Town Marshal Clyde Hancock, Bolton, MS Mayor Lawrence Butler, and Dr. Charles Mangin of the Whitfield State Hospital.
       Although actor Ronny Cox is credited as writer and performer of various country songs for the movie, the songs are not heard in the final film and the song titles are unknown.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, producer Harvey Bernhard was inspired to develop the story with screenwriter Tom Holland after reading a publisher’s catalog description for Edward Levy’s novel, The Beast Within, which had not yet been published. Bernhard and Gabriel Katzka’s preparations for the production were first announced in Army Archerd’s 7 Oct 1980 “Just for Variety” column in DV, which claimed that the film was originally intended to take place in KY. Multiple contemporary sources confirmed that principal photography began 9 Feb 1981, in and around Jackson, MS. A 12 Feb 1981 United Artists casting announcement stated that the film was expected to be released in late 1981.
       Production notes cited that filming took place in Raymond, MS, and the Jackson Baptist Hospital. The entire first week of shooting occurred outdoors, and at night. A news item in the 4 Mar 1981 HR stated that actress Bibi Besch had to be rushed to the hospital during filming of the opening rape scene, in which she was required to remain undressed in cold temperatures. Production notes dated 7 Jan 1982 also stated that scenes were shot at the Mississippi State Hospital for the Insane. Filming concluded 10 Apr 1981, according to a brief in the 15 Apr 1981 Var.
       On 23 Mar 1981, DV reported that The Beast Within had a budget of $5 million, and would be released in late Oct 1981 on 1,000 screens. At this time, producer Harvey Bernhard had already decided against making a sequel. The 8 Jan 1982 DV announced that, following the frightened reactions of a test audience in Philadelphia, PA, United Artists wished to edit the climatic transformation scene, but Bernhard disapproved. Regardless of any cuts, the film would retain its R rating.
       A United Artist press release dated 29 Jan 1982 announced that Bernhard, actor Paul Clemens, and actor-songwriter Ronny Cox would visit thirty cities across the American South between 1 Feb and 12 Feb 1982 before the film’s local release in 560 theaters on 12 Feb 1982. According to the 15 Mar 1982 HR, the picture grossed $2.2 million in its first ten days screening in 565 theaters across the southern United States. The article reported a $4.1 million budget, with an additional $3 million spent on advertising and promotional packages. The film was scheduled to open that day across the western U.S. before expanding to New York City, Philadelphia, PA, and Hartford, CT on 19 Mar 1982.
       On 1 Apr 1982, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M)/United Artists Distribution and Marketing issued an apology and correction for erroneously listing actor Logan Ramsey as “Ramsey King” in all press materials. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
7 Oct 1980.
---
Daily Variety
23 Mar 1981.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jan 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Mar 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1982
p. 3, 38.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1982.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Mar 1982
p. 2.
New York Times
19 Mar 1982
p. 30.
Variety
15 Apr 1981.
---
Variety
17 Feb 1982
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Harvey Bernhard Gabriel Katzka Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
Scr story and scr by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Key grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
Elec, Mississippi crew
Elec, Mississippi crew
Elec, Mississippi crew
Grip, Mississippi crew
Grip, Mississippi crew
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed by
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Standby painter
Swing gang, Mississippi crew
Swing gang, Mississippi crew
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus mixer
Country songs by
Country songs by
Mus post prod by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Sd tech
Supv sd ed
Re-rec eng
Re-rec eng
Re-rec eng
Creative sd by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff man
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Spec makeup eff created and des by
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Craft service
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Creative mobile driver
Asst to prod
Prod coord
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Post-prod auditor
Bookkeeper to prod
Unit pub
Film expeditor
Loc mgr, Mississippi crew
Asst loc mgr, Mississippi crew
Casting, Mississippi crew
Prod's secy, Mississippi crew
Office secy, Mississippi crew
Animal handler, Mississippi crew
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Beast Within by Edward Levy (New York, 1981).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
March 1982
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and Southern U.S. opening: 12 March 1982
New York opening: 19 March 1982
Production Date:
9 February--10 April 1982 in Raymond and Jackson, MS
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corporation
Copyright Date:
14 April 1982
Copyright Number:
PA135398
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Dolby Stereo™
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
98
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26497
SYNOPSIS

Driving down a forested road in the middle of the night near Nioba, Missisissippi, in 1964, Eli and Caroline MacCleary get stuck in a ditch. While Eli walks to a nearby gas station to find a tow, Caroline lets the dog out of the car. Meanwhile, an unseen creature breaks out of the cellar of a nearby house, stumbles into the woods, and kills the MacCleary’s dog. When Caroline investigates, the creature knocks her unconscious and rapes her. Returning with the fire department, Eli finds her body and carries her to safety. Seventeen years later, in Jackson, Mississippi, Eli and Caroline speak with Dr. Odom about their son Michael, who suffers from an incurable pituitary disorder that causes accelerated cellular growth. Because neither parent possesses genes for the same disorder, Caroline believes that the rapist might be Michael’s real father. While in the hospital, Michael dreams of opening a rattling cellar door inside an abandoned house. Posing as authors researching a book, Eli and Caroline return to Nioba to ask locals about the area’s criminal history. Although Eli receives no answers from the town magistrate, Judge Curwin, Caroline steals a front-page article from the Nioba Outlook newspaper office about Judge Curwin’s murdered brother, Lionel Curwin. The office clerk, Judge Curwin’s second brother Edwin, realizes she stole the clipping and runs to inform the judge of her suspicious behavior. At the police station, Sheriff Bill Pool tells the MacClearys that many years ago, Lionel Curwin’s body was found ripped to pieces and partially-eaten. The case remains open and no similar crimes have ever been committed. Meanwhile, Michael escapes from the ... +


Driving down a forested road in the middle of the night near Nioba, Missisissippi, in 1964, Eli and Caroline MacCleary get stuck in a ditch. While Eli walks to a nearby gas station to find a tow, Caroline lets the dog out of the car. Meanwhile, an unseen creature breaks out of the cellar of a nearby house, stumbles into the woods, and kills the MacCleary’s dog. When Caroline investigates, the creature knocks her unconscious and rapes her. Returning with the fire department, Eli finds her body and carries her to safety. Seventeen years later, in Jackson, Mississippi, Eli and Caroline speak with Dr. Odom about their son Michael, who suffers from an incurable pituitary disorder that causes accelerated cellular growth. Because neither parent possesses genes for the same disorder, Caroline believes that the rapist might be Michael’s real father. While in the hospital, Michael dreams of opening a rattling cellar door inside an abandoned house. Posing as authors researching a book, Eli and Caroline return to Nioba to ask locals about the area’s criminal history. Although Eli receives no answers from the town magistrate, Judge Curwin, Caroline steals a front-page article from the Nioba Outlook newspaper office about Judge Curwin’s murdered brother, Lionel Curwin. The office clerk, Judge Curwin’s second brother Edwin, realizes she stole the clipping and runs to inform the judge of her suspicious behavior. At the police station, Sheriff Bill Pool tells the MacClearys that many years ago, Lionel Curwin’s body was found ripped to pieces and partially-eaten. The case remains open and no similar crimes have ever been committed. Meanwhile, Michael escapes from the hospital and, weak with illness, drives his car off a rural road. He wanders into the fields and encounters the house from his dream. He descends into the cellar toward a rushing, wind-like noise. Later that night, Michael poses as a delivery boy and brings groceries to Edwin Curwin. As he watches Edwin mix ground beef with his hands, Michael becomes consumed with bloodlust and bites him on the neck. When Michael collapses outside a nearby house, a teenage girl finds him and returns him to the hospital. Michael’s parents and physician, Doc, are surprised to find that his health and appearance have improved. The next morning, Judge Curwin enters Edwin’s house and finds his brother’s bloody body. Eli wants to take Michael to Houston, Texas, for further medical examination, but Michael decides to stay, claiming he likes the town. Michael leaves the hospital and visits the girl who saved him, Amanda Platt, to thank her. The two teenagers walk through Black Pine Bog, an area that Amanda says most townspeople are afraid to enter. When Michael discovers that her father is Horace Platt, Lionel Curwin’s cousin, he collapses in a momentary spell of illness. He quickly recovers, however, and kisses Amanda. Amanda’s dog unearths a disembodied hand and carries it back to Amanda, prompting her to scream and call the police. After Amanda’s abusive father drags her away from the scene, Sheriff Pool explains to the MacClearys that Horace Platt killed his wife and her lover, but managed to avoid jail because he is Judge Curwin’s cousin. Eli realizes that Michael wants to stay near Nioba because he has feelings for Amanda. As Michael, Caroline, and Deputy Jeff Herbert return to the hospital, Eli stays and helps Doc and the police dig for bodies. By nightfall, they discover thirty-six skeletons, one of which contains a metal hip joint replacement that Doc recognizes from a former patient named Emily Oldenburgh. Because Doc remembers Emily’s body was buried in the church graveyard, Doc, Eli, and Sheriff Pool visit Dexter Ward, the mortician. Uncomfortable in Eli’s presence, Dexter refuses to answer their questions about Emily’s funeral. That night, again Michael escapes from the hospital and visits a drunkard named Tom Laws. Michael affects the voice of Billy Connors, Tom’s deceased friend, saying that he has returned to kill the Curwin family. After Dexter telephones the judge begging to be released from his involvement in the Curwins’ secrets, Michael breaks into the mortuary and murders him. The police open Emily Oldenburgh’s grave and discover rocks in her coffin, causing them to return to the mortuary, where they find Dexter’s body. Caroline arrives with news that Michael is missing, worried that he has gone to see Amanda. The adults rush to the Platt household and find Michael standing over Amanda’s bed while she sleeps. At the hospital, Caroline, Eli, and Doc examine Michael’s X-rays and notice that the boy has developed a thick layer of tissue underneath his skin. The next morning, Eli insists that they relocate to another hospital, but Michael shuns Eli’s authority, exclaiming that he knows Billy Connors is his real father. In the police station, Tom tells Sheriff Pool that Billy has taken possession of the MacCleary boy and is responsible for the killings. Michael discovers a painful gash at the base of his neck, but when Doc attempts to examine it, Michael hurls him against the wall. Tom runs to the generator room of the river dam, a place where he and Billy used to hide as kids. Possessed by Billy, Michael throws Tom into the electric machinery, killing him and cutting off the town’s electricity. Michael sneaks back into Amanda’s house and instructs her to leave town because her relation to the Curwin family puts her in danger. She accidentally slices her finger while cutting vegetables, and the sight of her blood causes Michael to attack. Just before strangling her, however, he attempts suicide by throwing himself off the second floor balcony. At the hospital, Michael instructs Eli and Sheriff Pool to go to the root cellar in Lionel’s house. As Amanda drives away from town, she crashes her car. Horace Platt and Judge Curwin plot to kill Michael and frame him as another victim of the serial killer. When they arrive at the hospital, Michael’s body grotesquely transforms into a slimy monster with a bulbous head and knobby hands. Horace Platt shoots the monster in the abdomen, but the creature escapes, and attempts to kill Judge Curwin at his home. However, the judge drives to the police station, where Eli, Caroline, and Sheriff Pool have locked themselves inside. Judge Curwin reveals that Lionel caught his wife Sarah having sex with Billy Connors. Lionel killed Sarah, but locked Billy in his cellar and forced him to eat Sarah’s body and the bodies of other people he had killed. When members of the Curwin family discovered Lionel’s crimes, they attempted to help Billy, but he had locked himself in the cellar, where he eventually died. The monster’s arm breaks through the wall and tears off Judge Curwin’s head before it retreats into the forest and finds Amanda near her wrecked car. She attempts to run, but when she injures her head and falls unconscious, the creature rapes her. Eli and Caroline shoot the creature and Sheriff Poole carries Amanda’s limp body out of the woods. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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