Netflix has been in a slump lately. The action and horror sections are pretty stagnant, showing the same crap for more than a year. The Netflix menu insists that the Will Smith Orc Cop movie Bright, that came out on Christmas, is a “new release.” So I’ve turned to other streaming services for entertainment. I’ve actually had some luck exploring the foul depths of the Amazon Prime Dungeon. And when I’ve found an entertainingly terrible movie like this one, it rewards all of the deep spelunking. In the tradition of vague, nondescript monster movie titles: It, The Thing, Jaws, Alien, Predator, and Creature comes… The Being. I didn’t know what I was stepping in when I fired up this bad boy, but it’s a doozy. Monsters, slime, eviscerations, boobs, bad acting, helmet hair, and Martin Landau slumming like a hobo, it’s a forgotten gem from 1983. Let’s check this bad boy out, shall we?
The Being (1983)
In conflicting expository devices, we get a radio news report talking about evil weather, then a long voice-over explaining there have been several disappearances, and then a hallucinatory TV report with Martin Landau explaining the banality of nuclear waste. He demonstrates how his wristwatch gives off a stronger radioactive reading than the tap water, “Therefore it shows that nuclear waste is harmless.” I’m a little suspicious of Landau’s logic there. It’s just the first sign we’re witnessing a gonzo filmic experience.
All this portentous exposition is totally unnecessary because, almost immediately, we see a panicked teenage boy dashing through a car junkyard, hearing spooky noises on the soundtrack. And just to show we’re in the land of fantasy and make-believe, he gets into an abandoned car and it actually starts. So he goes tearing ass down the road as an evil storm rages. Then something heavy, possibly The Being, lands on the car and a slimy hand punches through the roof and attacks him. Then he gets his head bitten off by something, and we’re off and running. The craziness is unrelenting for the next 90 minutes. Is The Being caused by nuclear waste, the Evil Storm, or something else? I can’t tell if the filmmakers have any clue. But it doesn’t matter, just go with it.
So we are introduced to our “hero” with Helmet Hair, a typically generic ’80s dude with too-tight jeans. He finds the abandoned car but no body or, miraculously, any blood. There is a river of unconvincing green slime, however. This barely raises an eyebrow from the taciturn hero. Or maybe that’s just his wooden acting. Either way, this is one of those towns where, despite constant murders and strange disappearances, the extras in the movie seem gleefully unconcerned about the dark happenings.
In an amazing scene of exploitation, there’s a drive-in where all of the teenagers are in cars, making out. Then cut to a topless babe who is attacked by a dude wearing a pink comforter, I mean, a horrible alien beast. This goes on for a while as they wrestle all over her bedroom, but you see, it’s just the drive-in movie the kids are watching, so the fact that it’s trashy and incompetently cheap is part of the joke. But then the necking teenagers get attacked by slime emanating from the car air conditioner, and rubbery hands yank a stoner’s friend out of the car. But Helmet Hair doesn’t believe him, because he’s high.
The Being is completely undefined, at various times appearing as a pool of green slime, gloppy claws, tentacles, or a cyclopean, rubbery tooth-monster dripping rivers of Karo syrup slime. The townsfolk are attacked constantly, but nobody in the next scene seems the least bit concerned. There’s constant spooky noises off-camera, fake-outs, bizarro dream sequences, and random, gory monster attacks. This movie doesn’t make a goddamn bit of sense, and it really doesn’t matter at all.
In one gloriously insane series of unconnected scenes, Helmet Hair has a dream sequence where Landau is dragged out of the cheapest looking movie airplane I’ve ever seen by The Being, then he sees Ruth Buzzi riding on a broomstick with blood dripping from her eye-sockets. He wakes up face down on the floor, jump-scare fake-outs the buxom blonde diner waitress, then dodges out of the way of a basketball-sized hunk of meat that goes flying into a car. They run into an empty restaurant, a slimy hand pokes around a door to attack them, then the blonde waitress magically disappears and then the movie gets REALLY weird.
The best part of the movie is the thoroughly over-qualified Landau giving an earnest performance as Dr. Garson Jones, the corporate stooge scientist. In one scene, he gives some epic eyeglasses acting where he gesticulates, sucks on the earpiece, and reacts with interest to Helmet Hair’s wooden line delivery. Landau is game for the progressive levels of silliness to where he’s toting a shotgun, delivering lines of pseudo-science gibberish, laughing hysterically at a surprise cat in a closet fake scare, and wrestling a supremely silly monster that’s barely a step up from the rubber octopus that’s meant to be cheap and shoddy in Ed Wood.
And don’t miss the climactic man vs. mutant battle in an empty cardboard box warehouse that gives Evil Dead a run for its money for the sheer amount of punishment its hero endures.
THE BOTTOM LINE
You need to see this movie. Kudos to mad genius writer/director Jackie Kong. I tip my hat to you, Madame. The movie obeys no rules of logic, storytelling, or common sense. It is a near-constant assault of failed jump scares and unconvincing monster effects. It is amazingly stupid, but yet subtly brilliant. It is the kind of movie you hope to find late at night on your less discerning streaming service. You definitely should hunt it down for yourself.