THE BEAST WITHINUnited States-1982

Bibi Besch as Caroline MacCleary

Paul Clemens as Michael MacCleary

Directed by Philippe Mora

Screenplay and Screen Story by Tom Holland

Novel by Edward Levy

I saw this movie in 1982, the first year of its release. I was 20 years old at the time. Thinking back, I remember hating the movie. I hated the horrible overacting. I hated the horrible stereotyping given to the southern characters. I hated the transformation scene when Michael MacCleary finally turns into a giant cicada. At the young age of twenty as I was still discovering what I liked and didn’t like about the movies I watched, this film was at the top of my list for most hated of all time. You got all that? Good, let’s jump in the time machine and go back to the future to 2012.

Doodly doodly doodly doodly doodly (that’s the sound a time machine makes).

Okay, we’re back in 2012. I am now 50 years old and watching the film again for only the second time. Will my opinion of it have changed 30 years later? The film is about a woman (Bibi Besch) who is raped by a strange creature in the woods. She gives birth to a son, Michael (Paul Clemens). When Michael turns seventeen, he begins going through a change. He goes out at night committing acts of violence each time more badly than the previous. To the casual horror fan, he’s slowly turning into a giant bug, a cicada. Metaphorically speaking, he’s on the search for his sexual identity and his first piece of ass. My wife said I would lose half my female readers with that last comment. I don’t mean to sound sexist and I hope that I am far from it. I just felt that the term was more in keeping with the tone of the film.

The Beast Within is directed by Philippe Mora, the same director who gave us The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf. The most memorable part about that film was the repeating shot of Sybil Danning ripping off her toga and standing butt naked. If you’ve ever seen Sybil Danning, you know why that’s a good thing. Again, I am not being sexist, Sybil is a beautiful woman and that’s all there is to it.

The best thing about The Beast Within is the end because then you know it’s finally over.

30 years later and I still hate this piece of shit.


The names “Curwin” and “Dexter Ward” are characters from the horror novel “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” by Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
Actor Ronny Cox, who plays Eli MacCleary, also wrote and performed the country music featured in the film.
Along with Joe Dante’s The Howling this film pioneered the trend of air-bladder special effects makeup. For Michael’s transformation scene small plastic sacks (often condoms or balloons) would be embedded into the layers of makeup and face castings. Later while filming these sacks would be inflated through tubes and it would help to give the appearance of the skins distortion. The same technique became popular in the genre throughout the 80’s being used in such horror films as Demons, Fright Night, and Evil Dead II.