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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield


Dir. Walerian Borowczyk

Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield

THE BEAST will certainly not appeal to all. It’s controversial embrace with bestiality and rape by the monster is sheer terrifying and despite its heavy sexualisation, is far from erotic. Borowczyk reaches his peak of controversy and even almost 40 years after its original release is as controversial today as it was back then.

While the film may well centre around the rape of the beast, the build up and story set around this set piece is as hard hitting as the scene itself. A choir-boy loving priest, the pulsating vagina of a horse awaiting to be mounted and interracial sex scenes that while completely normal in the 21st century, back in 1975 was as controversial as the beast.

Originally supposed to be a short for Borowczyk’s IMMORAL TALES the pivotal scene for which THE BEAST is played is apparent to it’s singularity against a story that is somehow forgettable against the rape to pleasure of the beauty and the beast. Even as the piece itself is dated, the shock and awe is still relevant and a must see for any artistic film lover.

Surprisingly, despite its graphic nature there is something that can’t leave you from ‘La Bête’ whether that is good or bad depends on how perverse you like your films. Yet even with what would be a distasteful excuse for crude subjects is so artistically made that it’s easy to forgive such a film in existence.

Arrow Video have once again not only done a superb restoration on the work but included an huge amount of special features including the slightly disturbing short film VENUS OF THE HARD SHELL both sexually charged and artistic as the main feature itself. In addition, the extensive making of commentary from Borowczyk’s cameraman on nine of his films talks through silent behind the scenes footage and gives a detailed insight not only into the film, but with Borowczyk himself.

Those expecting either the most disturbing of horrors or filthiest of arthouse pornography should step away and instead, take THE BEAST as an insight into the most accomplished works of Borowczyk. Behind its appearance is a deeper analogy of control and lust but only for those who are able to see through the most shocking of tales.

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