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Movies From the Black Lagoon: Beast Within

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Beast Within - 2008, Rated R
By Tom Doty

You know that the "zombie" film has run its course when you realize that the latest undead opus (which looks like all of the others) actually came to you from another country. In this case that country is Germany. If you are a zombie completist then you might enjoy yourself here but if you've had it up to here (my hand is under my chin) with the living dead then you won't see anything new here.
This film actually sports a budget and begins on a high note. It starts with a fiery car wreck but just before you start to question whether you popped in a Burt Reynolds flick the film is already off to the next bit of mayhem. The next bit showcases Dr. Bergen. He chucks a test tube and boldly declares that his work has been a failure before a murder of crows descends on him and rips him apart like so much schnitzel. While you are still digesting all of this the movie finally settles on some characters. Unfortunately they turn out to be the same gang of post adolescent nitwits that populate most low budget zombie efforts. In this case they are Robert, Eugene, and Patrick. The Robster turns out to be the grandson of Dr. Bergen. He drives out to Bergen's remote country mansion to sign some papers after his unfortunate demise. He brings along his favorite vegetarian/wimp (Eugene) and the standard best friend who is obsessed with sex and partying (Patrick).
Nothing much happens for the next forty minutes and that's too bad as it would have been ample time for character development. That said we do get to meet the town Constable. He is portrayed as a very American-like stereotype of a small town lawman (his favorite activities are chomping on doughnuts and giving attitude to anyone who was talented to leave town). A stop at a convenience store leads to Robert hooking up with his old girlfriend (Marlene) and allows Patrick a chance to show his moves as he comes on to the other teller, Vanessa. Despite evidencing zero charm they manage to convince the women to meet them later at Dr. Bergen's creepy estate.
Bergen's house is huge but rather decrepit. The boys do manage to find the wine cellar but they are low on munchies and must call for takeout. This leads to an amusing bit where we meet Bowman. He's the town bully who is still mad at Robert for stealing Marlene away from him. Apparently he's so macho that the town shipped him off to the U.S.A. during his wild years but now he's back and ready to do some mischief. He owns the take-out place and slips a dead rat into our bunch's lunch for a mild gross out scene.
When night falls all heck breaks loose. We find out that a rage virus grips the town. Pretty soon a bunch of slobbering maniacs attack the Bergen place and a siege ensues. Here the movie picks up its pace and the gore factor comes into play. You get some pretty intense scenes of carnage that involve killing the infected in all kinds of ways which include shooting, sledge hammering, and even some flame throwing.
By the end most of the characters are dead and the military shows up to lead people to a quarantine area but keep watching the skies folks because that looks like a huge flock of crows following the wagon train.
Technically this movie has a lot going on. It's well shot and the special effects are top notch. If you just want to get your zombie on then there are certainly worse ways to spend an evening.
Best Line: What I can say, however, is that I have nothing else to say."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to:

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