The Beast Within (novel)
||This article consists almost entirely of a plot summary. It should be expanded to provide more balanced coverage that includes real-world context. (April 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
The book begins in the 1920s on the farm of Henry and Sarah Scruggs. Henry is a fanatically religious man who believes that people are vile and base, and that sex—even marital sex—is repulsive and sinful. Sarah, who is much younger than Henry, disagrees. One day a traveling salesman by the name of Jimmy Connors shows up at the farm, telling them that his car broke down. Feeling unusually hospitable, Henry gives the man some dinner and lets him sleep in the barn for the night. After she thinks that her husband has fallen asleep, Sarah sneaks out to the barn and is seduced by Connors. Unfortunately for the both of them, Henry catches them in the act and knocks Connors unconscious. When he awakens he finds himself chained in Henry's basement. Henry tells him that he has murdered Sarah and that he plans on keeping him prisoner for "a long time". Connors is held captive for over twenty years, and eventually the constant abuse, the grotesque food, and the horror of his situation drive him to become more beast than man. He loses all memory of who he once was and is simply an animal content to live its life in bondage. But Henry dies and the creature escapes from its prison into the surrounding forest in order to avoid starvation.
It finds its way close to the home of Eli and Carolyn MacCleary, a young married couple. One night when Eli is at work Carolyn ventures outside and is knocked unconscious by the creature, which was hunting for food and became frightened at her approach. Some long-forgotten instinct awakens in the beast and it rapes her. After it has finished it leaves her alone in the forest to resume its search for food. It tries to catch a snake but is bitten and dies from the serpent's venom.
Carolyn becomes pregnant from the attack, but is unaware of her rape and so assumes that the child is her husband's. The baby is born and they name him Michael. Michael is an affectionate child, but they notice strange things about him. Animals have a bizarre reaction to him, and he is intensely claustrophobic. As he begins to grow, his parents discover that when night falls a strange transformation overcomes him, as if his entire personality has changed. He slips into trances and prowls the forest, killing the animals that he comes across. Eli boards up his windows to prevent him from escaping at night, and soon thereafter Michael's "spells" seem to relent...until he hits puberty, at least.
As a teenager Michael falls in love with a girl he knows from school, but he is also afraid of hurting her because of his transformations. However, he lets his guard down and even decides that he wants to marry her. Before they can leave together, though, he kills a bully at school who tried to attack him. Wanting to get out of town as soon as possible, he and his girlfriend drive to her house to pick up some of her things. As it turns out, her house used to be the home of Henry Scruggs, and from the moment he steps in the door the beast within him (which consists of the emotions, senses, and savage hungers of the creature that was his biological father) springs to the surface and he is left violently insane. Instead of confining him in a mental institution, his parents decide to keep him in the house's cellar, hoping for the day that he might recover.
The Beast Within is a 1982 horror film loosely based on the novel. The film rights for the novel were quickly purchased, but when the film was released, the screen adaptation bore very little resemblance to the novel.
- Woods, Kevin (August 7, 2014). "Tom Holland planning a remake of The Beast Within". JoBlo.com. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
- The Curse of the Werewolf, a 1961 horror film with a similar plotline