The Being (1983)

The state of Idaho is a weird combination of small town Americana, anti-porn political activism that turns into hypocritical terrorism, and radioactive nuclear dumping sites. It’s even got a country music radio station. Yep, Idaho is just like everywhere else, only with more potatoes. And more nuclear mutants.

The small town of Pottsville, Idaho, is one such city now beset by a hideous nuclear mutant that is a combination of green slime, tentacle monster, and brown sleeping bag. As people start disappearing, the town mayor and local potato farmer hires a chemical safety engineer to investigate if it has something to do with a nuclear waste dumping ground nearby. That engineer is Martin Landau, complete with amazing facial expressions. But the local sheriff, played by Rexx Coltrane, AKA producer Bill Osco, is also investigating the disappearances. If you’re curious why Bill went with the name Rexx, it’s possibly because his other great works include the likes of Mona, Flesh Gordon, and Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Comedy, which funnily enough cut footage to earn itself an R-rating instead.

In short, yes, Martin Landau and a porn producer team up to fight a nuclear mutant in small town Idaho. And they do just that, though not initially. Initially, Landau spends his time telling everyone the nuclear dumping site is totally safe, while Osco keeps finding green goo and getting attacked by a monster. What causes the team up? Well, there’s this weird, potentially homoerotic dream sequence where Osco and Landau are definitely flying away together in black and white when the creature pulls Landau from the plane, leaving Osco without the love of his life. It’s a dream, and Landau is not Osco’s love interest, but the fan fiction possibilities are simply too easy here, folks. Anyway, after that, Osco wakes up, and he becomes best pals with Landau, even locking up his waitress girlfriend in jail to spend time with the man while they hunt the creature. Sure, it’s for her “safety.” It’s ok, we get it. We all dream about flying out to mysterious vacation spots with Martin Landau. It’s got to be his smile that does it.

Did I mention this is an Easter movie yet? Well it is.

Anyway, eventually the evil tentacle critter teleports around town, kills people, tries to kill others who survive solely through the powers of bad movie editing, and then gets into a final showdown with Landau and Osco in a warehouse after killing a cat. Landau gets dismembered, Osco puts on a gas mask and steps on a nail, and then he kills the critter, and it explodes after having kindly removed Osco’s pointless gas mask. Osco then climbs out of the warehouse and cheers that he’s probably got tetanus, and another nuclear mutant pops out of the dirt.

The Being has a lot of stuff that makes no sense, particularly in one early sequence where it floods a car with more Jello slime than was used to make The Blob before attacking a couple of horny teenagers and a total stoner. People really do get spared via edits, where the creature is on top of someone and then is suddenly gone in the next cut, and there is at least one scene where yes, it looks like someone threw a sleeping bag at Martin Landau. But when you do finally get to see the mutant’s face, it’s AWESOME. It’s got one freaky eye, fangs, and it’s gooey, but man, that is a lot of slime it’s leaving everywhere. Seriously, critter, go take a bath or something.

The more important thing about this town though is that it’s in the midst of a campaign to bar porn, specifically by barring a potential massage parlor from opening up where prostitutes might hang out. Yes, that is their reasoning. How do we know it’s that kind of business? We don’t, but hey, this is America. We jump to conclusions. Besides, that future smut house is the home of some guy’s Playboy collection as well as the creature. We need to respect their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of potato farming. It’s the Idaho way.

Look, this movie exists to do two things: make you never want to go to Idaho, and let you know it’s ok to have weird sex dreams involving quiet plane rides with Martin Landau. If that’s not the most important message a movie could ever convey, I don’t know what is.

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