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Friday, February 3, 2017

WILD BEASTS -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle



Okay, first of all, WILD BEASTS (1984), now on Blu-ray from Severin Films, is one very warped, one very grotesque flick. 

And second of all, if you're a soft-hearted PETA type--or just anyone who can't stand seeing animals being hurt in any way--then you will not like this movie.  In fact, you should avoid it at all costs. I'll explain why in a bit, although you might as well stop reading now because you won't want to see it. Ever. (But don't stop reading. I just said that for effect.)

The premise is simplicity itself--someone puts PCP into the water supply, and when some zoo animals get a snootful of it they escape into the heart of the city and go on a rip-roaring rampage of revenge.  Against what, you ask?  Why, against humans for "raping nature" as the trailer informs us.


Head zoo-guy Dr. Rupert "Rip" Berner (real-life animal tamer John Aldrich) and his scientist girlfriend Laura Schwarz (Lorraine De Selle) are knee-deep in it all from the git-go, with Rip (in her Italian accent Laura calls him "Reep") working with veteran police inspector Nat Braun (Ugo Bologna) to track down the marauding animals while Laura rushes across town to protect her young daughter Suzy (Louisa Lloyd), who's in a dance class that will soon be invaded by a hungry polar bear.

Well, the manure hits the ventilator early on in this anything-goes Italian free-for-all when the wild animals hit the streets and start chowing down on city dwellers like they were meaty treats.  The result is an abundance of graphic gore effects as we see screaming victims being devoured before our eyes.

While this, fortunately, is merely simulated, not so fortunate are several live rats that are roasted alive with flamethrowers (after molesting a kitty cat) and some livestock that get attacked by very toothsome lions.  We've all seen movies that made us ask, "Wow, how'd they do that?"  In this case, they just freakin' DID it. 


Of course, most fainthearted viewers will have already checked out during the main titles at the sight of a zookeeper chopping up actual horse heads for lion food, which we see the ravenous cats gleefully devouring.  I found this scene particularly disturbing since I happened to be eating hot dogs at the time.

More gleeful devouring takes place throughout the film, but what really shifts much of WILD BEASTS into mindboggle-mode are scenes such as elephants invading an airport and causing a plane to crash during landing.  The SPFX include some surprisingly elaborate model work which is not all that convincing but is great fun to watch. 

Elsewhere, we're treated to the sight of a cheetah chasing a Volkswagen convertible at full speed down a city street, a tiger loose in a subway car, and, wilder still, a herd of cattle stampeding through the heart of a modern city. 

This is stuff you just don't see every day, and, as I mentioned, it's all the more amazing because it's real.  Nowadays they'd just CGI it all up and expect us to "ooh" and "ahh" over a cartoon.


Such spectacle makes up for the fact that this is a low-budget production done on the fly with barely any retakes by MONDO CANE director Franco E. Prosperi, who knew how to stretch a lira thanks to his extensive documentary experience. 

The hasty schedule means not much attention is given to cinematic style, but the hit-and-run atmosphere is exciting and the editing is great. Daniele Patucchi's score is a combination of Goblin-style suspense music and really cool jazz.

The Blu-ray from Severin Films is in widescreen HD with English and Italian 2.0 soundtracks (English subtitles are available).  Once again Severin comes through with a solid bonus menu including terrific recent interviews with director Prosperi, star Tony Di Leo (aka "John Aldrich"), editor Mario Morra, and circus veteran/animal wrangler Carlo Tiberi.  There's also a scenic tour of Prosperi's museum-like home and a trailer. 

I didn't like WILD BEASTS much at first--in fact, its more crude and distasteful elements and contemptible animal abuse continued to turn me off throughout-- but I eventually warmed up to and started enjoying this absolutely off-the-wall exploitation flick.  The ending is especially good, because instead of petering out or leaving us unsatisfied, the film saves its wickedest plot twist, and its wildest beasts, for the very end. 

Buy it at Amazon.com:
Blu-ray
DVD

Release date: Feb. 7, 2017


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