Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Beasts (1980)

The cheapest way to make a movie is to go the woods... and you'll have great locations for free, you can spray blood everywhere and no one will see what you're up to. Not to forget that it's cheap. It's been done so many times over the years... yes, even in Hong Kong. The Beasts draws its inspiration from Deliverance, The Hills Have Eyes (another cheap location in that one, the desert!) and a lot of slashers. But what makes The Beast a lot more better than some of its American counterparts is that it's sets not limits. Sure, there's been more graphic movies made both before and after, but this has such a gritty and nasty feeling that I think I haven't seen anything like it.

A couple of teenagers goes out on a hiking trip in the Hong Kong countryside. They soon run into a couple of disgusting rednecks, who rapes one of the girls and kills her boyfriend. The girl gets so shocked she's admitted to a psychiatric clinic. Her father decides to take revenge on the creeps that did this to her and her friends, and sets out in the woods to really mess things up for these guys!

That's the story if I take away everything around it. Because we actually spend some time with both the rednecks and the kids from the beginning and get to know them. The teenagers are the normal horny bunch of pop-listening (unauthorized use of a Genesis-song for example) idiots, but are portrayed sympathetic and charming, and with a healthy dose of sexual tension. But they are probably mostly chosen because they look cute and weak, and is easily terrorized by the fantastic bunch of inbreeds that's after them. Here we have snakes, who looks like a Hong Kong goth-rock singer with no teeth, Moe, a fat retard and a couple of others who all have their all specialties. Moe also has a monkey, a quite big one, that he carries around with him all the time, which looks absurd because he treats the poor animal like a doll and just stuffs him under his arm when he's running. 

All of them, except Moe, is of course very perverted and just see one reason with women: to rape them. They're also more or less protected by the gas station attendant (they are always evil in these kinda movies) and holds a firm terror-grip on the rest of the village. So in a way, these are actually the main characters in the movie. Even the father, played excellent by Eddie Chan, comes off like a less important character. 

The power in The Beasts is that it's set in such a beautiful location. It's not everyday you'll see a brutal rape in the middle of a fairy tale-like forest! The killings are not that graphic really, but are filmed in such a way that they feel much more violent than they really are. But of course there's blood, nudity and stuff that probably can be hard for sensitive people to watch. Dennis Yu directs like he's done it a hundred times before, and I think this is one of this first movies. He knows how to tell the story with intelligent camera set-ups and some artful direction, but never lets us down when it comes to the exploitation-part of the movie.

The Beasts is a damn fine little nasty that really deserves a nice, uncut, remastered release somewhere in the world.


Phantom of Pulp said...

One of my all-time favorites, and I'll kill for a totally new, uncut, remastered version.

Is your version uncut?

I hear my HK VCD and DVD are cut.

Wonder what was cut exactly?

Great post!

Jack J said...

I have the uncut Dutch VHS (lbx, English dub) and the HK DVD and from just watching the two I didn't actually noticed much of a difference. However, there are people on ADG who swear the HK DVD is cut so I guess it is. I think we're talking bits and pieces like a frame here and a frame there.

I also have the "The Flesh and Bloody Terror" version (which features XXX rape porn inserts and which I'm 99% sure was edited by Thomas Weisser of VSoM) and in my view it's only interesting for the novelty of its existence! The fullscreen print is awful and it cuts away a lot of dialogue scenes which Mr. Weisser probably thought were boring as "all" they did was to deepen the characters, i.e. not deliver X rated gore. :/

Ninja Dixon said...

Phantom: Actually, I got a copy from Jack here, so I've only seen the dutch version. And I'm happy you liked the post!

Jack: According to DDDhouse the HK dvd is 4:3, is that correct? Or is it letterboxed at least?

Jack J said...

I'll double check but I remember it as being letterboxed. It's an old scratched print but at least it's in Chinese with subs. One difference I remember is it has end-credits over the last still-frame whereas you only see the still without credits on the international print. It doesn't make much of a difference to my tho as the credits are written in Chinese. xD.

Phantom of Pulp said...

Thanks for those explanations, fellas.