Another summer is almost kaput and there’s a general sense of melancholy and malaise intermingled with hope for better tomorrows as we put our barbeque grills in mothballs and retire our Hawaiian print shirts in exchange for something more akin to what a plaid festooned Paul Bunyan might fancy on a good day. Yet there’ still just enough time for one more summer adventure before the cold wind whispers in from the North. Ladies and gentleman, may I present to you the cure for those summertime blues, director Dustin Ferguson’s (Tales from the Grave: The Movie, Moon of the Blood Beast) sublime scare-fest, The Beast Beneath.
The plot of Ferguson’s The Beast Beneath is itself a loving homage to the giant bug/monster movies of the 1950s and early 60s: A monstro earthquake slams a national park, stirring back to life a prehistoric creature. Need I add that said creature is a wee bit cranky after its long slumber and lo be to those who wind up in its path? This simple enough of a set-up is told effectively and with a brilliant economy of screen time and puts the creature – and us, the viewing audience – in direct line with our likeable protagonists who, in the best tradition of such films as The Deadly Mantis and Earth VS the Spider must quickly devise a plan to thwart the anachronism of another time in order to save the inhabitants of the world.
And what a motley yet likeable crew of unlikely heroes The Beast Beneath lovingly introduces us to: A town sheriff (shades of Charles Cyphers’ character in Carpenter’s Halloween) played with humor and compassion by D.T. Carney; the stupendously talented Sheri Davis as Cheryl and scientist with a plan or two up her own sleeve (the always delightful Brinke Stevens) along with her brother (character actor par excellence Eric Prochnau) are our entryway into this unlikely adventure. Of course there’s the foil for our intrepid group of saviors in the form of the legendary Mel Novak as a corrupt mayor attempting to cover up this terror anyway that he can. The sharp-eyed viewers who have made it a point to follow Ferguson from one film to the next will be rewarded by a bevy of fun cameos and standout performances from the director’s usual rogue gallery of thespians and it all gels together nicely and helps recreate the genuine fun that were part and parcel of this genre in its heyday.
Director Dustin Ferguson has created a rip-roaring rocket ride of thrills and chills that will send summer out with a bang in The Beast Beneath and leave you breathless and wanting more – More monsters, more fun and more summer. I know that I’ll still be watching and thinking about this little gem as the first Autumn leaves begin to fall.