The Beast (1996 film)

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The Beast
The Beast (1996).jpg
Directed by Jeff Bleckner
Produced by Peter Benchley
Dan Wigutow
Written by Novel:
Peter Benchley
J.B. White
Starring William Petersen
Karen Sillas
Charles Martin Smith
Ronald Guttman
Music by Don Davis
Distributed by NBC
Release dates
April 28, 1996 - April 29, 1996
Running time
176 minutes
Country United States
Language English

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 when a couple disappear while having a romantic night out on a yacht near the Pacific Northwest resort community, Grave's Point. The next day, local fisherman Whip Dalton (William Petersen) finds the empty lifeboat from the missing yacht and finds 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) tries to hire Whip to kill the squid, but he refuses, so Graves sends out Lucas Coven (Larry Drake) instead. Coven succeeds in slaying the squid and the carcass is promptly sold by Graves to Sea Land Texas owner Osborne Manning (Denis Arndt) then unknown to the fishermen the sonar that isn't being watched detects another squid. It turns out the squid is much bigger than the one they killed and instead of following the boat or attacking, it resubmerges.

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 huge adult squid attacks the submersible and everyone on board is killed. Whip angrily blames Graves for the submersible incident because Graves wouldn't allow them to see the squid's carcass. That way they would have known it was the wrong one and Jamison, the innocent helpful assistant Graves sent, would not have been killed on board the sub with the others. Dana, Whips daughter, discovers her scientist boyfriend Christopher was also killed on board the sub and is devastated. Graves then blackmails Lucas to go back out to the sea and hunt the real squid or he'll shut Lucas down for illegal trap fishing. Lucas agrees to go.

Mike, Whips friend who is in desperate need of a job to earn money to support his pregnant wife, decides to help Lucas kill the squid since it is the only job he could find. Everybody else including the other fishermen are afraid to join the hunt and think it is a suicide mission since the squid is three times bigger than the first one they easily killed and it has killed a lot of people before. Lucas and Mike and another crewmember go out to sea on a very stormy night. They decide to head back to shore and continue the hunt the next day because of the weather. Then the Squid attacks the boat before they make it to shore, pulling a crewmember 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 that reach in. 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 chopper, 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 finally kills the giant squid through incineration. 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 no offspring and they do not sedate the giant squid at the end. Many storylines and characters are added or changed in the TV adaptation.


External links[edit]