Galactic Theater

Welcome to the Galactic Theater, where we'll explore the works of master manipulators of light waves, examine the themes brought to play, and critique the final products of months of hard work.

W A R N I N G !

This review does not represent the opinions of the general public. It reflects my personal thoughts and opinions on the movie.

That said, on to the review!

Now Showing: Peter Benchley's The Beast
Broadcast Dates: 1996
Format: Television

Last update when I reviewed Peter Benchley's Creature I mentioned another movie adaptation I'd seen, this one of Beast. How absolutely remiss of me not to review that movie first! Well, I'm going to make amends right now. I asked a relative to tape it off of the The Sci-Fi Channel for me, so here's the review of Peter Benchley's The Beast!

Jaws is, of course, probably the best known of the movie adaptations of Benchley's works. After all, that one movie spawned three sequels and terrified would-be swimmers with fears of giant great white sharks roaming the shores in search of people to eat. It played on people's fears of sharks and helped to color the sharks' reputation world-wide. We know better now. However, The Beast take another creature from the deep and turns it loose against humanity. This time, however, it is a creature even more mysterious than the great white shark. The elusive Architeuthis dux, or giant squid, remains an unknown quantity despite all the efforts of modern scientists to study it.

Graves Point, Washington is a dying community. Trap fishing has depleted fish populations, resulting in loss of business and loss of income. There's a small tourist industry--numerous ship wrecks lie nearby to attract experienced divers--but it isn't enough to support the entire fishing industry. There are those that would turn the entire community into a bunch of trinket-sellers. There are those that would continue with the illegal practice of trap fishing. And there are those that would strive--desperately, almost--to remain true fisherman. However, nature and fate have a different plan in store.

Whip Dalton, played by William L. Petersen, lives with his daughter, Dana (Missy Crider) in Graves Point as their family has done for several generations back. No less hurt by the depleted fishing industry, the Daltons continue to strive in the face of their troubles for a stable life. Whip's boat, the Privateer, is their lifeblood: besides fishing, Whip sometimes takes on charters from divers wishing to explore the sunken wrecks nearby. Despite their financial problems, Whip is unwilling to begin trap fishing, a practice that others ridicule him for, since it means a further drop towards bankruptcy and poverty.

Then, something comes along to stir up everyone's lives. An urgent May Day and an emergency signal calls in a Coast Guard chopper, resulting in the discovery of a rubber raft...with no one in it. There are no clues to what happened to the raft's occupants, except a slimy substance that stinks of ammonia and a wicked-looking hook-shaped claw almost as large as a man's hand. Whip doesn't know what it is, so he sends it to the Portland Zoo for identification. They, in turn, send it on to Dr. Herbert Talley (Ronald Guttman), who identifies it for what it truly is: the claw from a sucker of the Architeuthis dux, the oceanic giant squid.

At first no one is willing to believe it. Then, Lucas Coven (Larry Drake) sees something in the water that absolutely terrifies him. Something long and eel-like wraps itself around Whip's anchor as he tries to pull it up after a day of diving with interested Coast Guard Lieutenant Kathryn Marcus (Karen Sillas). The carcass of a young sperm whale washes up on the beach, completely torn to pieces. Finally, two young divers trying to reach a deep wreck die...forcing everyone to believe. Plans are made to destroy the squid, but events take a terrifying turn.

I had already read the book when I first saw the promotionals for the movie, which originally aired on NBC. As usual with most movie adaptations, there were considerable changes to the story (the best movie adaptation I've ever seen is A&E's version of Pride and Prejudice). Taking this into account, however, the movie was worth seeing, and I'm glad I now have it on video tape. I can't say a whole lot without ruining the story for you, but I'll say this: this story is a lot more believable than some other giant cephalopod movies I can think of. The only problems I noted in the movie involve the drastic changes from the book's content. That, and the incorporation of an entrepreneur instead of a vengeful father/business magnate.

There's no telling when, if ever, NBC will air The Beast again, or if it will come out on video tape...although I've seen the video tape for AT&T's presentation of Moby Dick. If I ever hear tell that it will rebroadcast or come out on video, I'll mention it. In the meantime, I'd suggest reading Beast and watch for a future broadcast of the movie on the Sci-Fi Channel. Both are interesting, and I'm sure you'll find your time well spent. If you want to know more about the book, then go to my special review of it.

Interested in buying this video? You can! Just follow the link to order the VHS version. You can also visit the Stellar Video Store for other titles.


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