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The Being, directed by Jackie Kong in 1983, takes place in the small town of Pottsville. At first glance, this would seem to be like any other small mid-western American town, bot Pottsville has a unique problem in that it has recently become home to a monster. Yep, there's a creature roaming around within its borders getting slime all over everything and laying waste to any number of local-yokels unlucky enough to cross its path.
Could this possibly tie into the toxic waste that a sinister corporation has been dumping in the water nearby? Yeah, that might have something to do with it… but Mayor Gordon Lane (José Ferrer) ensures his constituents that everything is under control and the toxic waste is nothing to be concerned about. Even the town's resident scientist, Garson Jones (Martin Landau), is on board in telling everyone to just keep calm and carry on. That monster, however, doesn't plan on just laying low. No way, when a monster has some monstering to do, that monster is gonna monster! And monster it does, as it runs around the junkyard and surrounding areas killing enough people off that the media starts making a bigger and bigger deal out of this. Thankfully, local cop Mortimer Lutz (played by the film's producer, Bill Osco, credited as Rexx Coltrane, which is a pretty great pseudonym) aims to put a stop to all of this, but will it be enough and will he be in time?
The Being is a ridiculously derivative movie. You know what's going to happen and where it's going long before any of the characters in the film do, and that does tend to suck out most of the film's suspense, but if you're an easy to please monster movie fan who can geek out over weirdly charming low budget effects work and some seriously strange casting choices, you can have a lot of fun with it. Some occasional but enjoyable doses of moderate gore and female nudity give the film a bit of trash appeal, and Kong keeps the moving going along at a pretty decent clip.
It's fun seeing Landau play a hoity-toity scientist type, it plays to his strengths as an actor and he's just plenty enjoyable to watch in this role. Ferrer is also pretty entertaining as the mayor, while Osco himself seems to be having a good time playing the town's top-cop. Supporting work from Marianne Gordon, Dorothy Malone and the instantly recognizable Ruth Buzzi are all noteworthy and hey, Kinky Friedman shows up in this too. The movie definitely benefits from the eclectic casting that went on here. Reportedly a lot of the bit-part players were affiliated with a comedy club that Osco had connections to, which explains why a lot of the people in the movie give off a weird ‘failed standup comedian' vibe, but again, it's the odd aspects of the movie that make it intriguing, rather than the story, which borrows from a whole lot of far more original and, frankly, better horror pictures and sci-fi pictures.
The script is all over the place in terms of tone and a seriously strange black and white subplot with Buzzi and Landau could probably have been removed completely (to be fair, it's interesting on a visual level but it does absolutely nothing to further the actual story) but, big ol' warts and all, the movie gives trash-horror film fans enough to enjoy that, if you fall into the demographic, The Being winds up being worth seeking out.
The Being is reissued on Region Free Blu-ray from Kino Lorber and Code Red in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.78.1 taken from a "2017 scan of the original vault elements." With the feature given 20.6GBs of space on the 25GB disc, it looks about as good as it probably can. This is still a pretty dark and grubby looking movie, with the large majority of it taking place outside in dimly lit nighttime situations. Still, there's decent enough detail in the close up shows and a fair amount of depth the picture. Reference quality this is not, but it looks more than okay for what it is.
A 24-bit English language DTS-HD options is provided in 2.0 Mono format. There are no alternate language or subtitle options offered on this release. There's minor hiss present throughout the first few minutes of the mix and some occasional sibilance as well but the track is balanced well enough. Dialogue is generally pretty easy to follow and the score sounds fine.
Extras start off with an audio commentary by director Jackie Kong. She talks about casting the film, the locations, working with the different cast and crew members, the effects used in the film and how she feels about the picture these many years later. There's also an audio commentary with star Johnny Dark that goes over his career in comedy, how he wound up acting in this picture, what it was like on set how he got along with the other cast members, working with Jackie Kong and more. Both of these are pretty interesting.
Additionally, the disc includes a trailer for the feature, bonus trailers for Sole Survivor, The Dark, Slithis and The Devil's Express. Menus and chapter selection are also provided.
The Being may not be an unsung classic of horror but it's an entertaining enough monster movie with some fun cast members adding to its wonky charms. The Blu-ray release from Kino/Code Red looks and sounds about as good as we can probably expect it to and the commentaries add some value. Maybe not an essential purchase for the masses but recommended to fans of B-grade horror and schlocky monster films.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.