The Beast Within / 30×40 / USA


The Beast Within
Year of Film
Philippe Mora
Ronny Cox, Bibi Besch, Paul Clemens, Don Gordon, R.G. Armstrong, Katherine Moffat, L.Q. Jones, Logan Ramsey, John Dennis Johnston, Ron Soble, Luke Askew, Meshach Taylor
Origin of Film
Genre(s) of Film
Type of Poster
Style of Poster
Origin of Poster
Year of Poster
Size (inches)
30 3/16" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
This motion picture contains scenes of extremely graphic and violent horror

A striking and fairly unusual design features on this 30×40 poster for the release of the 1982 horror The Beast Within, directed by Philippe Mora. The film’s screenplay was written by Tom Holland (his first produced) who would go on to write other classic horrors like Fright Night and Child’s Play. The film opens in 1965 as a newly married couple are traveling down a dark country road in Mississippi when their car gets stuck in a ditch and the man, Eli McLeary (played by Ronny Cox) heads off to find help. His wife Caroline (Bibi Beschstays with the car but when their dog runs into a nearby wood she goes to try and retrieve it she is attacked by a strange beast, raped and left for dead.

Seventeen years later we discover that a child called Michael was born as a result of the attack and has been raised by the McLearys as their own. Having had a normal child he has started to suffer a mystery illness that the doctors cannot explain, aside from the presence of a swollen pituitary gland. The family decide to head back to the small town near where the incident happened to discover if there could be anything to explain the sickness but it soon becomes clear that Michael is being taken over by a beastly force that he can’t control and that several people in the town are at grave risk. Unfortunately budgetary restraints and producer whims meant that Holland’s screenplay was not shot in its entirety, meaning that the storyline is pretty garbled in places and the reasons for both Michael’s transformation (reincarnation) and why he’s only killing certain people are not exactly clear.

Despite missing out on box-office success on its cinema release it has since garnered something of a cult following, particularly in the VHS era, and that’s likely to do with the effectively creepy atmosphere, the fact that it doesn’t hold back on the gore, and the relatively high quality of the special creature effects. Of note is the final transformation scene for Michael, which is particularly well done and gruesome, aside from a couple of cringeworthy moments where the team clearly got a bit carried away (balloon head!). This poster and the film’s trailer made a big deal of how shocking and terrifying the film was and the trailer even mentions the last 30 minutes as being particularly horrible. I’m unsure who designed this poster so if you have any ideas please get in touch.

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