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The Beast Within
Directed by Philippe Mora
Produced by Harvey Bernhard
Gabriel Katzka
Written by Novel:
Edward Levy
Tom Holland
Starring Ronny Cox
Bibi Besch
Music by Les Baxter
Cinematography Jack L. Richards
Editing by Robert Brown
Bert Lovitt
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
United Artists
Release date(s) 1982
Running time 90 min.
Country United States
Language English
Gross revenue Domestic Gross:

The Beast Within is a 1982 horror film directed by Philippe Mora. Screenplay by Tom Holland, based on the novel by Edward Levy. Starring Ronny Cox, Bibi Besch, Paul Clemens, L. Q. Jones, Don Gordon, R. G. Armstrong, Katherine Moffat, Meschach Taylor.

Its release came the year after the horror-comedy An American Werewolf in London, but before Teen Wolf, both of which have similar plots. It is rated R in the United States.

The film is a very loose adaptation of Edward Levy's 1981 novel. The screenplay was written by Tom Holland, his first feature film script. It was dismissed by critics upon release as being cheap and exploitative. In more recent years it has gained a cult following.


Plot summary

While driving through Mississippi on their honeymoon, Caroline and Eli MacCleary (Bibi Besch and Ronny Cox) are stranded on a deserted road when their car is stuck in the mud. Eli is forced to walk several miles down the road to a service station they stopped at earlier to get a tow. While he is gone, Caroline is attacked and raped by a mysterious creature.

Seventeen years later, their son Michael (who was conceived as a result of Caroline's rape) has become gravely ill, and the doctors have no idea what is causing the sickness, only that a pituitary gland has gone out of control. Theorizing that the sickness might be genetic, Eli and Caroline finally confront the past and return to the small town where she was attacked to hopefully discover some information about the man who assaulted her. The local townspeople are reluctant to help, with both the newspaper editor and the town judge brushing aside their questions. But then Eli and Caroline hear a story about a local man who was murdered 17 years earlier, his body partially eaten and his house almost burned down.

Meanwhile Michael has escaped from the hospital and returned to the same town, unbeknownst to his parents. His personality undergoes a frightening transformation, and he quickly begins to attack and kill specific people in the community, including the paper editor and the local mortician, both of whom were related to each other.

After several more revelations, including the discovery of a swamp filled with bodies whose bones show signs of having been gnawed on, Caroline and Eli finally discover the terrible truth about the creature that attacked her those many years ago. And what's worse, it appears that the creature is about to be reborn through Michael, and its murderous actions are the direct consequence of a carefully concealed secret.



  • Actor Ronny Cox, who plays Eli MacCleary, also wrote and performed the country music featured in the film.
  • One shoot, at an abandoned hospital, fell on Friday the 13th. The crew became convinced the location was haunted as throughout the evening the lights and the elevator turned on and off by themselves.
  • Along with Joe Dante's The Howling (1981) 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.
  • This film's Lalo Schifrin-like score was the final feature-length score for composer Les Baxter, who considered it to be one of his finest. James Horner was rumored to have contributed to the film's score and his elements from his piece were used by Baxter, this was later proven false.[1]
  • Star Paul Clemens was very enthusiastic about having the role of Michael MacCleary because he was an avid fan of the horror genre. Clemens would even enjoy the extensive makeup work that would take hours to apply to him.


External links

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