The Being (1983)


A mutant terrorizes a small Idaho town in this low budget creature feature that stars no less than three Academy Award winners. Martin Landau (Ed Wood) is the industrialist trying to hide the fact that his company’s toxic waste is poisoning the town’s water supply. Next, there’s José Ferrer (Cyrano de Bergerac) as the town’s boozy mayor, and finally we have Dorothy Malone (Written on the Wind) in the role of a bereaved mother looking for her missing son.

To their great credit, none of these Oscar winners phone it in, and writer/director Jackie Kong keeps this old-fashioned drive-in flick moving at a brisk pace with plenty of kill scenes and a cozy middle-America atmosphere. She keeps the monster off-screen until the final act — always a classy move — and when we finally get to see the one-eyed pile of slime, he doesn’t disappoint.

In the minus column, we have producer and lead actor Bill Osco, aka Johnny Commander, aka Rex Coltrane (all three names appear in the credits and they’re all the same guy). He’s not quite bad enough to bring the whole movie down, but he’s definitely out of his league. The film could also use a lot more comedy. Only supporting player Ruth Buzzi seems to catch the right tone, playing the mayor’s harpy of a wife with a mission to drive smut out of the county. Comedy would support our suspension of disbelief with a monster that repeatedly pops up out of nowhere, to say nothing of a faint ‘potato conspiracy’ subplot.

The Being is one of the last movies from the grindhouse era — movies that were made to formula and cranked out to make money. Even when these movies were total garbage, they still had a certain charm. Only this one isn’t garbage. Despite a few ‘so bad, they’re good’ moments, you can tell some care went into the making of this slimy little movie. You can call it absurd. You can call it cheap. But you can’t call it boring.

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