In a day and age where computers can generate the majority of what we see on the silver screen, I am extremely thankful for those directors who choose practical special effects over CG. No matter how good the CG is, I can usually tell what’s real and what’s not (pretty much the sole exception to this is Neill Blomkamp’s work…his CG is amazingly realistic). My preference for real-world effects is one of the reasons I love 80’s horror so much. Obviously, CG was not prominent back then, and extremely expensive; thus, it was used in only a handful of films. Filmmakers had to get quite ingenious at times to accomplish the shots they wanted in their movies.
WILD BEASTS is an Italian horror flick that fits this bill. The film deals with nature gone amuck, thanks to drugs polluting the zoo’s water supply. It boasts all practical effects, and I have to confess it contains some of the most chilling animal attacks I’ve ever seen. Granted, the dialogue is kinda hokey, and some of the situations seem a tad ridiculous (a cheetah tries to run down a woman who is speeding away in her car)…but if you can look past that, you’re in for a real treat.
If you are not familiar with WILD BEASTS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Severin Films & CAV Distributing:
For his final work, Godfather Of Mondo Franco E. Prosperi took on the Nature Strikes Back genre and delivered perhaps the most shocking movie of his controversial career: When PCP gets into the water supply of a city zoo, the drug-crazed beasts including tigers, lions, cheetahs, hyenas and elephants, as well as seeing eye dogs and sewer rats go berserk and rampage through the streets of Rome. What follows is a terrifying mix of actual animal attacks (supervised by professional circus trainers) and over-the-top 80s Italian gore that remains the greatest eco-revenge shocker in EuroCult history. Lorraine De Selle (CANNIBAL FEROX, HOUSE AT THE EDGE OF THE PARK) and Ugo Bologna (NIGHTMARE CITY) star in this disturbing urban bloodbath, now digitally remastered for the first time ever and bursting with all-new Special Features!
Despite its small flaws, this film kept me captivated from start to finish. From the first animal attack on, I was hooked. I can see why this has been an underground cult favorite for so long.
WILD BEASTS is shot well and looks great onscreen, thanks to the HD transfer. The Blu-ray picture is crisp and clear, and I can’t recall a single grainy scene. Likewise, the sound is impressive. My surround sound made good use of the ambient noises, offering an immersive viewing experience all the way around.
The acting is about what you’d expect from Italian horror from those days: it’s not terrible, but it’s nothing to write home about either. This is probably due in part to the lackluster writing (as mentioned, the dialogue is clunky and hokey in places), but it is easily forgivable. I enjoyed watching the cast get eaten as a result.
And speaking of carnage, there’s plenty of it in WILD BEASTS. The animal attacks are gruesome and very realistic, as is the gore. When these animals take a person down, it’s for good. They waste no time in ripping out throats and mauling their victims in a frenzy of crimson. One particular scene that really made me squirm involves a couple making out in a car. They are lost in each other and do not notice the massive horde of rats that are sneaking up on them. They realize what is happening as the rodents attack, but it is too late; the couple is basically eaten alive, one small bite at a time. This scene is horrific and gruesome, a fitting dose of gore for a film like this.
WILD BEASTS is a win for me, and I definitely recommend giving it a look. The film is chocked full of intensity and all-out craziness, but it is a hell of a ride. In addition to a great-looking movie, the Blu-ray also contains some great special features, including:
• Altered Beasts: Interview With Director Franco E. Prosperi
• Wild Tony: Interview With Actor Tony Di Leo
• Cut After Cut: Interview With Editor & Mondo Filmmaker Mario Morra
• The Circus is in Town: Interview With Animal Wrangler Roberto Tibeti’s son, Carlo Tiberti
• House Of Wild Beasts: A Visit To The Home Of Franco E. Prosperi
• International Trailer
WILD BEASTS is available now.