Directed By: Jackie Kong
Starring: Martin Landau, Marianne Gordon, Bill Osco, Josè Ferrer
Tag line: "The Ultimate Terror Has Taken Form"
Trivia: The film was made in 1980 as EASTER SUNDAY, but sat on the shelf for 3 years before being released as THE BEING.
The Being, a 1983 horror/sci-fi film, gets off to a very weird start. Following a brief scene in which we're shown the town of Pottsville, Idaho, the sound of a morning radio show filling the air, the camera pulls back, and all at once, a narrator chimes in. After again telling us the name of the town (a guy on the radio revealed it about a minute or so earlier), the narrator says: “A small town, not much different from any other Main Street, USA, where strange and unexplained events are occurring”. He continues on a bit further, letting us know that a young child has gone missing, and that the town is in the grips of the “ultimate terror”. This entire narration sequence reveals nothing of value, and is an odd beginning for what would, in time, prove to be an unintentionally hilarious motion picture.
A massage parlor is coming to Pottsville, and the entire town, led by the mayor's wife (Ruth Buzzi), has launched a campaign to keep it from ever opening its doors. Unfortunately, this moral crusade has only succeeded in focusing everyone's attention away from the real issue at hand: the dumping of nuclear waste very near to the water supply. Though the dump has been declared safe by local environmental expert Garson Jones (Martin Landau), detective Mortimer Lutz (played by Bill Osco, who's credited as Rexx Coltrane) believes the toxic materials may be responsible for the mysterious disappearances that have been plaguing Pottsville in recent days. Yet even the detective doesn't realize just how dangerous the situation has become, that is until he finds himself face-to-face with a mutated creature bent on destroying the entire town.
The Being hints at its “so bad it's good” tendencies right out of the gate. Shortly after the narration concludes, the action cuts to a young boy (Brad Ginther), who's running away from someone (or something). Finding himself in an auto junkyard, the boy hops into the nearest car, starts it up, and hightails it out of there as quickly as he can. But just when it looks as if he's going to make it, a creature tears through the roof of the car and pulls the boy's head clean off his body. Fortunately for him (and much to the dismay of whoever was in charge of the film's continuity), the boy's head miraculously grows back just before the car slams into a building! But then. errors in continuity are the least of this film's problems, especially when you consider how stupid most of the central characters are. The first time we're introduced to Garson Jones, he's on a local television news program, defending the town's decision to place a toxic waste dump so close to the only supply of fresh water. After drinking some of the water himself to prove its OK, then running a Geiger counter over the pitcher to show there's no radioactivity, Mr. Jones says, “One must conclude that dumping nuclear waste does not, and will not, affect the water supply”. Honestly, I half expected to see a “Famous Last Words” graphic blinking on the bottom of the screen as he said this! The unplanned hilarity continues as the story unfolds, culminating in the numerous appearances of the so-called “creature”, which, quite amazingly, seems to be everywhere...all the time!
In the end, I did have fun watching The Being, though not for any of the reasons the filmmakers intended. It's an unbridled mess of a movie that gets sillier with each passing scene, and despite a solid cast (with the exception of Bill Osco, who is jaw-droppingly awful as the heroic detective Lutz), The Being has far too many goofy moments for us to take any of it seriously.