‘The Being’ (1983)

The Being (1983)

The opening credits of The Being are simple white words against a black backdrop. No soundtrack. Martin Landau. That’s promising. Jose Ferrer. Even more promising. Ruth Buzzi? Yea, this is gonna be good. The Being is loaded to the breaking point with low budget 80s horror cliches. Teenagers act bad and get eaten. The mayor is attempting a cover up. Red lights appear in the background out of nowhere during attacks. No one is concerned about the fact that people are rapidly disappearing. The being only attacks after a dog, cat or falling pie tin scares the victim first. New ground is broken in the form of an Easter egg hunt where a toddler comes across the Being having a rest in a hole among the trees near the church. There is also a great scene involving a drive-in movie showing a movie about an amorphous being terrorizing teenagers. The drive-in is filled with moviegoers screaming at the screen and making out. Is there a good chance that the being will put in an appearance? I won’t ruin the surprise.

Martin Landau portrays Garson Jones, a scientist investigating possibly dangerous radioactivity in the area. The combination of the element of class Landau adds to the production versus a lack of research on the part of the filmmaker as to what a scientist might actually say makes for some wonderful moments such as Landau holding a Geiger counter over his wristwatch on a talk show. Ruth Buzzi surprises by providing some of the film’s most bizarre moments; namely bleeding through his eyes during a bizarre Wizard of Oz-type dream sequence and being killed off when her garage is destroyed during an operatic recital.

The Being itself is a bit of an enigma in that it seems to move quickly when it is lurking around on its own from the point of view of the camera, but is not very adept at chasing people when a pivotal character is in trouble. The Being is also randomly selective about whom it kills right away and whom it throws around and injures for the sake of the story. It absorbs people whole, but never seems to get any bigger. Sometimes it is a gelatinous blob, and other times it looks like a giant peanut with a deformed hand. As the movie progresses, the creature begins to take on a more definable shape, something of a bastardization of H.R. Giger’s design for Alien, but the creature is ultimately hard to pin down as it alternates between having hands and tentacles when one appendage becomes convenient over the other.

All in all, The Being wins as being great b-movie fun in that it maintains a good pace and has a little something for every permutation of low budget horror taste. No one “acts” for too long, the unintentional laughs do not languish and the gore is lit so you can’t tell how much they spent on it. You can generally tell what is going to happen from minute to minute, but the film seems aware of its shortcomings and acts accordingly. You won’t get bored. If you find yourself not liking what you are seeing, give it a minute. Something else will happen.