A wonderfully retro 1950s/60s soundtrack & overall brilliant soundscape gives The Beast Within (1982) a little extra oomph. Opening in the South in 1964, with some creepy night photography, something not quite human on a dark roadside kills a woman's dog, then comes after her. She trips & falls unconscious, & the man-beast rapes her unconscious body.
When her husband (Ronny Cox) returns with the tow truck, Caroline (Bibi Besch) is alive & will recover, but now carries the beast within.
Seventeen years later, her son's pituary gland goes crazy & he becomes very ill as prelude to a horrific transformation. The doctor believes it could be a hereditary condition though he can find no clue of what it is in either of their family lines.
They've never spoken of "that night" but now for the sake of their son's health, husband & wife have to return to the small town where the horrible event occurred, to see if they can track down the father to learn more about the hereditary condition.
Their son Michael (Paul Clemens) escapes from the hospital & is drawn to the same small town like a spawning salmon. The race is on for his mother & (foster) father to figure out the meaning of his heritage in their attempt to save him before the transformation is complete.
The kid becomes a neck-chomping flesh-eating serial killer, & his illness is temporarily relieved after each kill. To great extent the film falls to pieces after this point in the story, the first half hour having been serious & promising, but now it's a minor gore film & by the end a so-so creature feature. If one likes such films to begin with, it won't disappoint; but it won't win new converts to cheesy horror.
The kid is not merely transforming into a creature, but specifically into the creature that was his father, Billy Conners, complete with Billy's memories. Billy has an insect's life cycle & is being reborn from Michael as though the boy were a chrysalid. Michael cum Billy explains it quickly: "It took me seventeen years, like the cicadas, but I came back!"
His mission is to kill & feed off every relative of the people responsible for keeping him locked up in a hole for many years hidden from the world. Problem is, Michael is in love with one of the intended victims, Amanda (Katherine Moffatt), & so tries his best to save her from Billy-within's wrath, while at the same time Billy-within is compelling him to kill.
Though nothing special, The Beast Within is nevertheless good-of-kind. The final transformation is gross though the FX are a little silly. Overall it delivers a few small surprises or effective images & concludes logically & horrifically.
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