50 Movies for 50 States Part Two: The `80s — #12 – Idaho, Film – The Being

#12 – Idaho, The Being

The Being (1983), an Astral Films production, distributed by Best Film & Video Corp. and New World Pictures, written and directed by Jackie Kong, with Martin Landau, Marianne Gordon, Bill Osco, Jose Ferrer, Dorothy Malone and Ruth Buzzi, cinematography by Hanania Baer and Robert Ebinger, original music by Don Preston, edited by Karin Nowarra, filmed in Boise and Meridian, Idaho

The plot: A monster terrorizes a small town. That’s about it.

I really could do a 50 Horror Movies for 50 States quite easily. It seems almost every state in the United States has turned out a low-budget creature features taking place in some picked-out-of-a-hat small town. Even Connecticut has Attack of the Beast Creatures.

So, let me introduce you to another shot-for-nothing middle-of-America monster extravaganza.

The Being is very much in the tradition of cheapy “classics” like Squirm (Georgia) and The Giant Spider Invasion (Wyoming), two of my picks the last time I went through 50 Movies for 50 States. You’ve got your small town full of the most cliched small town America personalities you can think of – the overzealous religious-types, the clueless law enforcement, the “good ol boys.” Just set a monster loose and there’s your movie. However, The Being sets itself apart from similar movies by featuring a “what the fuck are they doing in this movie” cast, with screen greats like Martin Landeau and Jose Ferrer slumming it out with ex-Laugh In cast member Ruth Buzzi and ex-porn wanna-be Bill Osco. Weird stuff. It’s also directed by an honest-to-god woman – and not just any woman – but Asian-American director Jackie Kong. (Kong would go on to direct Blood Diner later in the decade, a movie which has gone on to have a pretty decent-sized cult following.) In a genre dominated by creepy white dude directors, Kong is an oddity, even if The Being is exactly the kind of movie that a creepy white dude director would make – breasts, beasts and buckets of blood included.

There’s plenty of gore in The Being. People are decapitated. A monster’s claw bursts through a man’s chest in an obvious rip-off of Alien. The monster itself is pretty bad-ass. Imagine a person turned inside-out. That’s kind of what The Being‘s creature looks like … but with claws and teeth … and one eye. It’s a fleshy one-eyed monster.

As for breasts, well … there’s some. Two. Maybe four. Two pairs.

I know what you're all thinking and, no ... Ruth Buzzi keeps her shirt on in this one.

In terms of gore and nudity, you could make a pretty decent highlight reel out of The Being. (Well, fairly decent. There are a few deaths which were strangely bloodless considering how over-the-top others were.) The Being probably would make a great trailer. Of course, the 3 Bs are not a guaranteed recipe for success when it comes to sustaining an audience’s interest over the course of an 80 minute or so long movie. In the end, The Being’s setbacks outweigh its merits.

Where does The Being go wrong?

First off, the human characters are really dull. Instead of playing the hickishness of the small-town characters for laughs, Kong chooses not to go completely over-the-top a la the characters in Squirm. Even the most ridiculous characters, such as Ruth Buzzi’s moral crusader, aren’t featured as much as Bill Osco’s bore of a detective.

"I hate my job."

Osco, credited as Rexx Coltrane, is just terrible as the movie’s leading man, delivering dialogue with the enthusiasm of a man about to receive a prostate exam. It’s only when you take into consideration that Osco produced The Being that you realize why he’s such a huge part of the movie. Despite billing Landau as the star of The Being, the film is very much the Bill Osco show. Trust me, that’s no show you want to watch. Scene after scene of Osco lazily “investigating” the monster’s murders get old fast. By the time you get to the part where he’s kissing the pretty girl and blowing up cars with a shotgun, you’ll be tired of looking at his mug, even if he does have some super-stylish facial hair. You see, he’s the only one with the strength and smarts to fight the monster!

Side note: Porn historians probably know Osco as the director of the first full-length theatrically-released porn film, Mona, while cult movie fans probably know him as the producer of the 70s sexploitation classic Flesh Gordon. Is there a hidden meaning, perhaps, in The Being‘s story of a man doing battle with a one-eyed monster – perhaps Osco grappling with his smut-filled past? Nah…

We’ve established that Osco sucks. What about the rest of the cast?

We're a car full of people and we're screaming! AHH!!!

While there’s plenty of decent acting, especially from Landau and Ferrer, but none of that matters when the characters are so dry and formless, like overcooked potatoes. One of the most effective scenes in The Being is when during a church Easter Egg hunt, when a toddler kicks a decorated egg into what appears to be one of the monster’s nests. I found myself somewhat concerned about the child as she reached down into the whole full of slimy claws and feared for her safety, like when I see someone carelessly cutting potatoes with a really sharp knife. The same can’t be said for the other characters in the movie. I could care less if any of them lived or died, like Burger King french fries — take em or leave em. If they at least made me laugh, whether intentionally or not, that could be excused. I was just bored, like when I read a paragraph full of potato comparisons.

In fact, going back to Osco’s porn roots, The Being is a lot like a bad porno. Any normal person will be fast-forwarding to the money shots, in this case, anything involving the “monster.”

Potato.

It does look sort of like a potato.

What is the monster exactly? Damned if I know exactly. Somehow it was created from nuclear waste. That much I gathered. Frankly, when any one of the characters tried to explain something I nodded off. Sorry. I’m a bad reviewer. But I don’t think it makes a difference because there’s not a lot here to hold anyone’s interest. And I’ve got drugs to help me with that. You may not.

Avoid this movie. Go for a walk outside. Take up scrap booking. Anything. Watch Copper Mountain. At least Copper Mountain is shorter. No, don’t watch Copper Mountain. Just don’t watch this. It’s not worth your time.

Next week: Illinois


50 Movies for 50 States Contest Scoreboard

Winner this week is @LCosgrove. Check out his podcast, Bad Idea Podcast. It’s about movies, yo!

@iceybloop – 2

@ZeekZombieMan – 1

@DraconicVerses – 2

@VicarOfVHS – 2

@ghwalters – 4

@lowdudgeon – 2

@unclegeeky – 2

@LCosgrove – 4

@GCDB – 2

Every Tuesday, a new screenshot. Guess the movie, win 2 points. Remember: Only dirty cheaters use IMDb to play the 50 Movies for 50 States guessing game. If you’re a cheater, I will find you out and scold you.

Want to play? Follow Matt on Twitter at @CM_MattDunn.

Click here for the Instant Gratification archive.

Click here for the 50 Movies for 50 States archive

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