The Beast (1996 film)

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The Beast
The Beast (1996).jpg
Based on Beast
by Peter Benchley
Screenplay by J. B. White
Directed by Jeff Bleckner
  • William Petersen
  • Karen Sillas
  • Charles Martin Smith
  • Ronald Guttman
Music by Don Davis
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Peter Benchley
Dan Wigutow
Running time 176 minutes
Distributor NBC
Original release April 28, 1996 - April 29, 1996

The Beast is a 1996 television movie starring William Petersen, Karen Sillas and Charles Martin Smith. Aired in two parts as a miniseries, the movie is based on the 1991 novel Beast by Jaws author Peter Benchley. The film is about a giant squid that attacks and kills several people when its food supply becomes scarce and its offspring is killed.

It was filmed primarily in New South Wales, Australia.[citation needed]


The film begins with Howard Griffin and Elizabeth Griffin having a romantic night out on a yacht near the Pacific Northwest resort community, Graves' Point. After a freak occurrence causes the yacht to sink, the two are forced to head for shore in a lifeboat, only to be attacked and eaten by an unseen creature hours later. The next day, local fisherman Whip Dalton (William Petersen) finds the empty lifeboat and discovers a large claw stuck into the boat. Whip sends the claw to a university to be analyzed and it ends up in the hands of marine biologist Dr. Herbert Talley (Ronald Guttman), who comes to Grave’s Point claiming it is from the tentacle of a giant squid. The island harbor master Schuyler Graves (Charles Martin Smith) hires Lucas Coven (Larry Drake) to kill the squid after Whip's initial refusal. Coven succeeds in slaying a squid and the carcass is promptly sold by Graves to Sea Land Texas owner Osborne Manning (Denis Arndt). The unmanned sonar detects another, much larger squid which remains unnoticed by the islanders.

When Whip and Talley aren't allowed to see the squid to examine it, Dr. Talley organizes a submersible expedition to explore the squid’s habitat. After analyzing the carcass of the dead squid, the scientists determine it is just a baby. The information comes too late, however, and the adult squid attacks the submersible, killing everyone on board. Whip angrily blames Graves for the incident which also resulted in the death of Whip's daughter's boyfriend. Graves then blackmails Lucas to resume the hunt for the adult squid or he'll shut Lucas down for illegal trap fishing.

Lucas resumes the hunt along with Whip's friend, Mike, and another crew member. After enduring stormy weather they decide to head back to shore and continue the hunt the next day. The Squid attacks the boat before they make it to shore, pulling a crew member off with its tentacle and knocking a cargo net on Mike, injuring him. It then attacks Lucas in the helm who fires a couple of shots with his gun at its tentacles. The squid then bites a hole in the hull. With water pouring in, it pulls the entire boat underwater. Whip, after learning that Mike went out to help Lucas comes to the rescue and, finding Mike holding onto a buoy, pulls him out of the water and takes him to the hospital. Whip then agrees to go out and hunt the giant squid but only if he can use his boat and Graves goes with him. He is also accompanied by coast guard officer, Lt. Kathryn Marcus (Karen Sillas), Dr. Talley, and Manning. They plan to snare the squid, reel it in, and shoot it multiple times with darts full of cyanide. The plan succeeds and the squid appears dead. But when the ship’s engine breaks down, Manning reveals that he filled the darts with tranquilizer instead of cyanide so he could take the squid alive back to Sea Land. Whip tries to cut the squid loose, but it wakes up and attacks the ship. Talley, Graves, and Manning are eaten. A coast guard helicopter arrives in time to pick up Kathryn and Whip. As he boards the helicopter, Whip fends the squid off with an axe, chopping open several extra fuel drums and has Kathryn use a flare gun to light his boat on fire cause an explosion that incinerates the squid. The helicopter flies them back to the shore where they reunite with Whip's daughter Dana (Missy Crider).


Differences from novel[edit]

This TV adaption is very loosely based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. In the novel, the squid has much younger offspring which do not make an appearance until the end of the novel, and the titular squid is killed by a sperm whale and not by an explosion as in the movie. Many storylines and characters are added or changed in the TV adaptation.


External links[edit]