Night of the Beast, titled Lukas’ Child in some releases, has no business being as watchable as it is. Conceived by producer and star Robert Alden May, Night of the Beast has little in the way of production value, no gore, and only a few drops of blood. But, what it does have is a monster, and lots of breasts.
Written and directed by Troma stable member Eric Louzil, Beast follows May as Lukas Armand, an aging former freakshow owner from Florida who has moved to Hollywood and founded a devil-worshiping cult.
The cult, under Lukas’s direction, has lured every would-be buxom actress in Hollywood through its doors under the promise of a role in a horror movie. But, it’s a trick. Lukas really needs these young ladies to feed his insatiable son — a demonic, leather-winged monstrosity (played by John Theilade in a rubber suit). Is the son really deformed, or is he an actual demon? The script is never clear on that, but Lukas is capable of some supernatural shenanigans, so the cult is legit.
All these missing ladies have caught the attention of the local police, and Detective Steve Anderson (Gene LeBrock) is on the case. He chases down leads aplenty, but in between he has sex with every witness he can find.
Ethics aside, this flick is shameless. It’s only light sleaze, as the behavior of characters and the gratuitous nudity seems sprung from the mind of a contemporary middle schooler. It’s almost innocent in its one-dimensional portrayal of Hollywood bimbos and what motivates them.
Sex in this film is very kitsch. In fact, this entire movie is kitschy. It’s an early-90s callback to films like Blood Feast, only swapping out blood for boobs. The film’s atmosphere is cartoonish, with overlit sets of fake stone masonry and the kind of robes (cults always have robes) just as suited for college fraternity rituals as cheap horror.
Even Dean Wallraff’s music fits the overall theme well, as almost a caricature of cheap synthesizer and melodica music. Only, it’s not caricature. It’s proper chintz. The music lends itself to the overall absurdity of the film to such an extent that a viewer shouldn’t mind just how awful it is. Every time there is some gratuitous nudity on screen (so, a lot) the music ratchets up to a higher level of cheese, scratching that shitty movie itch we all know so well.
The film is also very simple. Not once, but twice, Louzil felt it necessary to film a scene showing two cult members carrying a coffin through a loading dock into cult headquarters. Many times we see the unfortunate female victims in a cage and then led to the waiting arms of the child. Some women we never see abducted, only appearing in the film already held prisoner. Other times there are long gaps between abduction and when we see a captive go to her death. Narrative consistency be damned, Louzil stitched together scenes with little regard for the audience, or for his own script, it seems. Since the movie is basically repeated set pieces, it’s only noticeable if one pays close attention.
One little moment of shitty filmmaking stands out for me. Early on, audiences see Detective Anderson interviewing a witness at her home. It’s a gaudily-decorated house — a true study in pink, from the living room to the kitchen, and unique. There can only be one house like this in a thousand square miles. Yet, later in the film, Anderson is interviewing a different witness in the same location. It’s unmistakable. Louzil and company made no effort to dress the set differently, or disguise it.
Not that any of this matters. Louzil makes it apparent early on that his film is trash. For that, Shitty Movie Sundays salutes him.
The performances are about what one expects from a bottom-feeding production like this, with May standing out, and not in a good way. His tone and inflection will worm its way into a viewer’s brain. He has a nasty habit of apologizing profusely to his victims before they are sacrificed, and the way he pronounces the word ‘dinner’ will be with a viewer for long after the credits roll.
Night of the Beast is no classic, and yet it’s a film strange enough to ward off anonymity, for now. It has the air of a passion project on the part of Robert Alden May, who may have come into a little cash and couldn’t resist burning it all on a horror flick. It slips into the murky middle of the Watchability Index, taking over the #279 spot from The Blackout.