The Being (Jackie Kong, 1983)

posted in: Duane, Review | 0
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Day-14
Toxic waste dumped in an Idaho waterway causes a missing boy to turn into a hideous mutant freak that wreaks havoc on then local citizenry. Also: they sell RC Cola at the local diner.
COSDS-The-Being00001From Jackie Kong, the director of the infamous Blood Diner comes this dated tale of corporate greed and environmental neglect. A bit heavy handed, yes, but so were the 80s. Some missing kid presumably comes into contact with toxic waste; but instead of turning into The Toxic Avenger (apparently Troma got it all wrong), he turns into this slimy feral Cyclops thing with a million teeth that apparently does nothing but dismember people at random. Fair enough, this is a schlocky 80s monster movie after all.
Martin Landau (Ed Wood, It Came Without Warning)  plays the misguided corporate environmental expert to great effect, proclaiming that dumping radioactive waste into the aqueduct causes no harm whatsoever.  The environmental message against illegal hazardous waste dumping is a theme that was quite prevalent in 80s film, and it clearly makes for a wonderful scapegoat for all manner of campy storylines such as the one we have here. In addition to the environmental overtones there’s also a subplot involving the local township protesting a massage parlor moving into it in an attempt to rid the town of “smut”. To be fair, Landau delivers an amusing speech during the protest/parade (yes, really) likening adult entertainment to be the work of Satan himself. The whole mess is just an obvious distraction to the viewer as they prepare the next monster attack. The local Detective Mortimer Lutz (Bill Osco; Cop Killers) bumbles about following the trail of carnage with his girlfriend Laurie (Marianne Gordon; Little Darlings) in tow, you’ll soon stop giving a shit about the stupid plot and yearn for more monsters, titties and blood. Speaking of stupid plot points, The Being was in fact originally titled “Easter Sunday” despite having nothing to do with the holiday save for a random children’s Easter egg hunt scene inexplicably slapped in the middle then promptly abandoned. Unless the monster was actually supposed to be the messiah and I’m missing something…
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And therein lies the rub… The Being starts out with a bang, when a young man takes off running from the monster through a junkyard, stealing one of the cars (that has the keys in it and runs perfectly). As he drives off, the monster jumps on the car and proceeds to punch a hole in the roof and tear the kid’s head off to great effect. If the film could have kept up that kind of quality/intestinal fortitude this film would have been a lot more effective. Sadly after the film blows its wad there, the majority of the kills for the remainder occur off screen with people getting yanked into car trunks or into dark buildings through plate glass windows by the creature’s tongue/tentacle thing. Of note there is a scene at a drive-in (where the poster for 1979’s Silent Scream is prominently displayed) involving a monster movie playing while the audience gets predictably devoured by the creature at random. None of this is particularly original or innovative filmmaking, but proves to illustrate the kind of fun monster movie that Kong was seemingly trying to create. Unfortunately the little mini plots get so tangled up in each other and never actually go anywhere that it turns into a jumbled mess.
COSDS-The-Being00010The gore effects are unexpectedly good; The Being certainly has some graphic moments and the monster is pretty convincing (although at times it’s pretty ridiculous looking too). Of course it wouldn’t be the 80s without some gratuitous nudity, and The Being delivers there as well. The film playing at the drive-in is a very tongue-in-cheek riff on the horror genre as a whole (a buck naked blonde girl is doing her nails when she’s attacked by some giant flesh pod thing) which sort of ties into the anti-smut message. To wit, when the lair of the creature is discovered it’s holed up (literally) in an old shack that just happens to be covered in pages from porn magazines; essentially saying that the root of all evil is cloaked in pornography. Add in the fact that the creature leaves these nasty green emissions everywhere (like in the front and back seat of a car) and the message gets even more overt.
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The plot is superficial, the messages are bordering on sermonic, and the characters are dumb as posts. If you can tolerate all that in one film then you might want to give The Being an hour and a half of your time. It’s not so-bad-its-good territory, but it does manage to hold one’s interest for a spell.

 
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating: 

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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

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