Friday, March 5, 2021

Beast from the Beginning of Time

Beast from the Beginning of Time
Tom Leahy

One of the joys of being a fan is finding something new in a genre you’ve scoured for ages. Beast from the Beginning of Time is low budget horror film from the period where low budget horror films were shifting from space monsters and atomic horrors of the 1950’s to the more visceral and grounded horror of the 1960s and beyond. It is a curious mishmash of wonky science-fiction elements and gore, despite its many flaws it deserves a wider audience.

Beast from the Beginning of Time is barely over an hour long, but it expends most of it first half concentrating on bickering scientists and academics. There is a whole circle of snarky professionals saying terrible things about their coworkers. I have watched this film several times now to take notes and I still am unable to connect this coterie of eggheads to their various beefs. With a more polished script this utterly mundane first act could be a clever way to lure an audience into a lull and then hit them with violent caveman antics but here it mostly confuses and irritates.

"Hey a little privacy here!"

Thankfully, someone gets impaled by shovel and we are into the good stuff. A monsterous prehistoric man has been resurrected by lighting and now runs rampant. Beast from the Beginning of Time is gleeful in its gore. Blood is spilled, arms are ripped off, and skulls crushed. The start black and white photography makes the special make-up appear quite gruesome. We never get a very clear view of the caveman but he has some reptilian elements that make him unique.

To go along with this gore is some of the zaniest science I’ve seen in a film. Our caveman is a)60 million years-old giving him a 53-million-year head start on the rest of us b) He’s filled with static electricity from a lightning strike that has put his cells into suspended animation. This lets him wake up, take a dozen bullets, and kill again before going dormant for a while, and  c) he can only be killed with something from this own time and in this case it is a stegosaurus spike which would have existed 90 million years before him but who’s counting?

"It's true, I'm filled with delicious and authentic Vermont maple syrup."

If you grind through the early part of the film to get to the caveman on a killing spree you are in for a treat. The horror in the film is ramped up through the use of small claustrophobic spaces and in what surely was a cost effective measure to save on building sets, many scenes are shown against a black background with  only a single light source and it works wonder to heighten the unreal feeling of the whole situation. 

The Beast from the Beginning of Time is an interesting and nearly lost bit of early gore cinema that is worth the time to check out if for nothing else to see what might be the most scientifically inaccurate film of the 1960s.

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