Search For The Beast (1997)

Search for the Beast

Directed by R.G. Arledge

Run Time: 82 minutes


Search For The Beast is one of those films that defies description. But since it is my unpaid, and often thankless, job at this web site to attempt to describe such films, I’m obligated to give it a shot.

Search for the BeastLet’s start out by noting that the film is part of a 4-film collection of Big Foot related flicks, called Big Foot Terror. The set includes "Shriek of the Mutilated", "Legend of Bigfoot", "Capture of Bigfoot", and our subject matter for today: "Search for the Beast". (And easily the worst of the 4, thus its inclusion on this site.)

By the way, this particular film was shot entirely on video, which should have immediately sent warning signals racing to my brain, and eventually to my fingers, forcing them to reach for the remote and shut the damned thing off.

OK, wait, to be fair I’m sure there are quite a few decent movies that are shot on video.

This is not one of them.

The plot, if you can dignify it with that term, involves an anthropologist who is sent out to capture "The Beast". No, not Satan: A creature that is just some poor stiff dressed up in a monkey suit rented from the local costume shop. Toss in a few weird rednecks, hell, toss in a lot of really really weird rednecks, a couple of loathsomely gratuitous sex scenes, and play it all out with acting that makes you want to give an Academy Award to a cardboard box, and you have Search For The Beast.

Open in the Okaloosa wilderness with an aforementioned gratuitous implied-sex scene involving a couple of redneck extras and a camera man who can’t seem to keep from bumping the microphone on his hand while filming. Well, to jump to the point, Unnamed Redneck Guy goes off "to the bushes" to take a leak.

"Don’t take all night," his girlfriend coquettishly calls after him.

"Ok," comes the succinct reply.

Ahh…what I wouldn’t give to be able to write dialog like that.

Anyway, the Beast gets them both in a vicious Jump-Cut Ambush which naturally reveals nothing of the titular beast. (Note From The Future: The Beast will get more than enough screen time before the movie ends, allowing the viewer to delight for minutes on end over the monster’s stunningly unbelievable costume.)

Cut to our hero, Dr. David Stone, out riding his horse in the forest looking for clues for the Beast, since, you know, he’s a Professor of Anthropology and all. (Stone is played by Rick Montana, star and director of Redneck Revenge (1996). He also appeared in Invisible Mom 2 (1999) and my personal favorite: Bikini Hoe-Down.)

On a side note, Stone plays out as a much more rotund, and believe it or not, less intelligent version of Dr. Lockhart from Boggy Creek 2.

Surprise, surprise, Stone’s horse gets "spooked" by something, it’s unclear, but Stone dismounts as he explains how his dog Pete "ran ahead to check it out", accompanied by the foleyed sounds of a dog fight (?!). The hilarious bit is that "Pete" is easily seen happily walking behind the horse, tail a-waggin’, despite the fact that the he’s supposedly "run ahead" and found something horrible.

Search for the Beast

Uhh…Pete…run ahead, I said "ahead!"

Stone continues to narrate the scene:

"I followed Pete [even though he was behind the horse!] and found something I’d never seen before." You see, Stone finds the remains of a "small, man-like creature". By the way, I paused the shot of him examining the remains and he’s holding up what looks like a bear paw. Er…man-like? Sure. You bet, Dr. Stone.

Having found what he came for, Stone informs us that "he immediately headed for home." Note that there is no sign of the baby’s remains being carried by the horse, so I don’t really know how it shows up later at the University. Maybe Stone shoved them in his back pocket.

Search for the BeastBack at the University, a local big wig, Milton St. John, reads from a newspaper about the latest case of 2 missing campers, bringing the total to 47 "unsolved disappearances" in the last 25 years. (I suspect that his script was taped to the newspaper.) On a side-note: Milton is played by Drive-In producer, director, writer, and Schlockmeister Extraordinaire David F. Friedman, who must have been doing the filmmakers a favor by appearing in this mess. Or just doing it for a laugh. God only knows.

Meanwhile, Stone busies himself in a lab (complete with a buzzing Jacob’s ladder device! You’ve got to be kidding me!) by taking a hair sample from the baby creature’s remains in order to "compare it to all known species." (Wow…all known species? This guy is thorough!) Further narration from Stone indicates that he’s going to compare the hair with a "dog, cat, rabbit, and a cow." Sooooo…I guess comparing the hair with all known species was a bit too ambitious after all.

Moving right along. Milton calls Stone and asks him to lead an expedition to find the Beast. Stone agrees to come over to Milton’s place and discuss the terms. After hanging up, Stone continues the examination of the remains. He casually removes the covering sheets (by simply tossing them on the floor!) to reveal the King of Rubber Monsters. No kidding, I spit a mouth full of beer onto the floor when I first saw this. And really, I’m not a University Professor, but I think that comparing this thing to a dog, cat, rabbit, or cow is probably going to come up negative.

Search for the Beast

This is not a rabbit.

To be fair, I will give the filmmakers credit for not being reluctant to show off their special effects work. I mean, despite the absurdity of the baby monster, the camera lingers for a long time on the remains, giving the viewer plenty of time to pause the film in order to bask in its goofiness.

Later that evening, Stone shows up at Milton’s house to discuss the conditions of the expedition’s sponsorship. Milton offers to cover all costs and reward Stone $100,000 if he can bring back the Beast alive. Stone, being a True Scientist, doesn’t want to capture the creature, but offers to take pictures and "maybe a video" if it exists. (Actually, since the beast has killed 47 people, maybe he should try and capture it to prevent further deaths. Idiot.) The deal agreed to, Stone takes his leave to begin preparations. In the meantime, Milton hires a bunch of goons to tag along with Stone as "hired hands" with orders to kill the monster when Stone finds it, because, yes, his son was one of the monster’s victims and his heart demands revenge. (Characterization!)

The next day Stone meets his new graduate assistant and official Eye Candy: Wendy Williams (played by "Holli Day". Get it? Ha ha. No I’m not kidding. Look it up. And who could blame her for not wanting to use her real name in this movie.) Anyway, she convinces Stone to let her tag along on the Search. Yee-hah. Since she’s part of the team now, Stone takes her into his office (which is filmed in somebody’s spare bedroom because they most likely didn’t have a permit to film on the grounds of an actual university!) in order to show her some grainy video footage of the beast that a trapper managed to take. (Why in the world a deep-woods trapper would be lugging around a video camera in the first place is not explained.)

Search for the Beast

Science!

After a pointless Watch The Grainy Video scene, Stone escorts Wendy into the other spare room, sorry, laboratory, and reveals the rubber mask, sorry, infant monster.

"Oh my goodness, it is incredible," Wendy manages to say while stifling a laugh. (I’m not kidding here, folks. Both of them can barely contain their chuckles when Stone pulls back the sheet to reveal the ridiculous remains.)

The next day, Stone, Wendy, and 6 of Milton’s goons pile into Stone’s van and drive off into the wilderness to find the monster. Despite an expedition which may last days, the only equipment the extra guys bring are their weapons. (Consisting of an array of M-16’s and AK-47’s!)

On the drive to the wilderness Stone stops to ask for directions from a pair of authentic Good-old boys squatting on a pair of paint cans and playing guitars. Actually one guitar and one mandolin. I think. I’m not a music major.

Search for the Beast

Travel Tip #24: Never ask people like this for directions.

The two troubadours warn them not to go into the mountains because "nobody ever comes back!", which isn’t quite true since, er, Stone returned from the mountains in the first scene of the movie…but who’s counting? Anyway, Stone and the others park the van and the ponderous posse begins their 15-mile hike (!!) to where they’ll be spending the night. (Once again, let me point out that nobody has any type of backpack, gear, food, or water. Furthermore, half of them are just wearing shorts and t-shirts. )

And…the movie trudges pointlessly on just as Stone and the others trudge hrough the forest. The boredom is broken up by a tedious rappelling scene down an incline which is obviously not steep enough to require rappelling, and by the insertion of a completely extraneous scene with a pair of young campers; the girl, naturally, takes a topless swim. (The whole swimming-scene is filmed in a ‘peeping-Tom’ manner (including foleyed sounds of deep-breathing…ech!) which adds to the film’s overall sleazy feeling. I’m guessing that the director might be implying that the Beast is watching her, however recent establishing shots of the monster show it standing in the middle of an open field and nowhere near any type of forest, so go figure.)

Later that night the expedition sets up camp and sits around a campfire exchanging Beast stories. Unfortunately for the cameraman, the video camera used to film the scene is hopelessly underexposing the shot resulting in essentially a long shot of a reddish fire with an occasional blob of pale flesh popping into view. It also doesn’t help the viewing experience that the dialog is frequently unintelligible due to the chorus of crickets that continually dominate the sound track. It’s truly a lesson in how NOT to film a night scene. (Also, future film makers, don’t just point the camera at the sky in order to film sparks floating up into the air…it doesn’t work, and to be honest, it’s really not that exciting to watch sparks.)

Eventually everybody calls it a night. Unsurprisingly, Stone and Wendy end up sharing a gigantic tent. (Where’d that come from?!) To the thunderous roar of what must be an entire brigade of crickets, Wendy explains how she’s had a crush on Stone since she was an undergrad, (Oh, Bu-ruh-ther!), and since he’s saved her life (WHAT?!), she wants to "act on her desires." With that baffling exposition out of the way (he saved her life?! When?), Wendy indelicately slides over into Stone’s sleeping bag and the scene mercifully comes to a close.

The next morning Stone wakes up to discover that Dan, the leader of Milton’s hired hands, has sent the guys out to look around for the beast. Stone leaves Wendy and Dan to pack up camp while he goes to find Darlene (the token female ‘bad ass’ of the bunch…don’t worry, she dies soon. Ooops. Sorry.) With Stone out of the camp, Jim takes the opportunity to make on move on Wendy which results in the ever hilarious Knee-To-Da-Nuts bit. Hoo-weee! Now that’s some good ol’ Country fun!

Cut to see that Dan’s 4 knuckle-head redneck gun-nuts have actually stumbled across the creature and they immediately open fire with their weapons. "I don’t believe it!" somebody shouts as the <cough> Beast pokes its head out from behind a tree…and yes, the words "I don’t believe it!" came out of my mouth as well after seeing this woeful creature.

Search for the Beast

No. I’m not kidding.

OK, believe it or not, now the movie really becomes incoherent.

The 4 huge-guys open fire on the Beast but exclaim "We didn’t hit shit!". Apparently the director felt that was enough excitement for one scene as we immediately cut to see Stone, Wendy, and Dan trying to climb some rocks in order to get better vantage point. "I’ve had enough," Dan moans, "I’m heading back to camp." (Would that be the camp that he just finished packing up? Hmmmm.)

The film transcends the realm of merely Awful into the ethereal plane of Surrealistic Incomprehensibility as Stone’s voice is constantly dubbed over the shot yet his mouth never moves. Maybe he’s a Deep Woods Ventriloquist. No matter, Wendy doggedly follows behind as they clamber over stones ("Watch out…these rocks are slippery," Stone ‘says’ to Wendy without moving his mouth.) Suddenly Wendy ‘sees’ the Beast, even though it’s impossible from her position from deep within a ravine. Stone supposedly films a bit of the beast from a hiding spot but the monster somehow ‘spots’ them (once again, impossible from the angle), so he and Wendy scurry back to camp and tell Dan what they found.

Dan has some news of his own: the other guys should have checked in by now. (Bum! Bum! Bum!)

"Yeah, they’ve been gone since yesterday," he notes. (Yesterday?! They arrived yesterday! What the…?)

"Well, somebody’s gotta go and find those sorry bastards," Dan grumbles as he heads off into the brush to look for his buddies.

He quickly discovers one of his henchmen hanging lifeless from a tree and in an astounding artistic gesture, the director immediately cuts to show a gigantic toad sitting on a rock.

Search for the Beast

I play no role in this film.

Either the sight of his friend hanging gutted from a tree or the large toad sends Dan running back to camp where Stone is digging up what looks like a dog turd. (I’m not being sarcastic here…this movie is very, very strange. I mean, can you name any other movie that includes a scene that could be described by the previous sentence? I didn’t think so.)

Dan breathlessly informs Stone of his recent gruesome discovery: "I found Bob’s big ass hanging from a tree!" (I actually got a chuckle from that line.)

Stone explains that Darlene and Jay came back and blah blah blah…Now we’re getting names for the characters? Gee, thanks. But hey, it doesn’t matter. Three of the six rednecks have now been written out of the script and never appear again. The other 3, namely Dan, Darlene, and Jay, are soon to be Beast fodder so just follow along as best you can.

Meanwhile, Wendy discovers a patently rubber arm on the ground which compels the remaining trio to beat feet and get the hell out of the forest. (I’ll bet that the rubber arm was purchased from the same costume shop that they rented the Beast’s suit.) For some reason Dan suddenly clobbers Stone over the head and takes Wendy hostage. (Hostage?! From who? Why? What the HELL is going on here?) Jay and Darlene secure Wendy and steal Stone’s video tape as Dan ties him to a tree.

Since all the rednecks have to die one way or another, Jay, being a bad ass, decides to turn back alone and gun down the Beast. (Which actually isn’t too unrealistic of a plan since he’s packing an M-16 assualt rifle.) Upon confronting Jay, the monster simply raises its arms, yells ‘blarg’, and somehow avoids being hit by any of Jay’s 30 or so bullets. Out of ammo, Jay inexplicably drops to the ground thus giving the monster a clean kill. Good-bye, Jay. We never knew ye and never wanted to.

Search for the Beast

Blargh!

So, with Jay dead, this leaves Dan, Darlene, and Wendy trying to make their way back to civilization, while Stone tries to free himself from being tied to the tree. In a truly wonderful continuity error, the very next scene shows the trio walking through the woods with Jay to the far right of the frame even though he was killed in the previous shot! I love it!

Lemma tell ya: for bad-movie fans, these types of screw ups are like panning for gold and finding a nugget the size of your fist.

Anyway, with Jay dead, sort of, Dan, Darlene, and Wendy try to make their way back to civilization. In the meantime, Stone manages to reach his belt knife…yes, Dan tied Stone to a tree without taking away his knife…and frees himself. "I’m gonna track ’em down," Stone grumbles, "and when I catch them…they’re going to pay in full!" (Cue Erik B. and RaKim…not. Man, I wish. Now that would have been hilarious!)

Sensing that the Beast is close behind, Dan comes up with a brilliant plan to put some distance between himself and the low-budget beastie: He simply shoves Darlene to the ground and runs away with Wendy. Nice. Darlene, somehow now completely unable to walk after falling (whatever), is attacked and killed by the monster. (During this attack scene, the monster obligingly turns its back to the camera giving us a perfect view of the zipper running down the length of the costume’s back. I was hoping that would eventually happen.)

Actually, when I watched the scene again, Dan accidentally kicks Wendy! Nevertheless, true to the script, Darlene tumbles to the ground in mock agony.

Search for the BeastClosing in on his quarry, Stone spots Wendy’s bandana on the ground. Picking it up, he puts it to his nose and takes a deep whiff…"It’s Wendy’s," he confirms, "and does she smell good…Ummm!" (I kid you not!)

Soooo….Jim runs into another gang of Milton’s Rednecks and these guys look like they just graduated from the Mullet School of Hair Design. "Go back there and shoot anything that moves," Dan commands, "I gotta get her back to the Boss."

Once again, why on God’s Green Earth would Milton ever want a grad student hostage? I mean, what in the world were the writers thinking? Does this movie really require a subplot? It seems like they’re having enough trouble handling just the main plot alone (such as it is). It’s just makes no sense whatsoever, and is never explained nor resolved. I guess the writers just thought it would be ‘cool’ to have a ‘twist’ in the story. Well, it’s not cool if it doesn’t make any freakin’ sense!

Stone proves himself to be quite the practiced killer as he deftly slices the throat of one of his pursuers, takes his weapon, and then shoots a second guy in the middle of his face. (This guy is an anthropology professor?!)

The remaining redneck pursues Stone deeper into the forest but is quickly dispatched with a shot to the chest. (A pack of blood-hounds was also giving chase, well, at least their barks were added to the soundtrack. Naturally, when the last redneck dies the dogs simply disappear from the film. Talk about your sloppy continuity.)

"The world is a better place without you scum-sucking hill-billies in it," Stone trenchantly notes as he steps over the still-bleeding body of his last victim. (Like I said before, Stone is a college professor?! Pretty hard-core SOB if you ask me.)

For some reason, Dan eventually forces Darlene over a ‘cliff’ and down onto a rock ledge. As Darlene pleads for him not to leave her behind, Dan simply tosses the rope over the edge and abandons her. But really: Why, Dan, why? You dragged her complaining ass, at gunpoint, through the woods for the last 20 minutes, (I counted), and now you just abandon her? WTF? (Kids, if you don’t know, ask your parents what that means.)

It’s been a long time since I’ve hated a movie as much as this one.

Oh, and by the way. The <cough> ledge that Darlene is standing on is about 5 inches from the ground. The camera is simply held low and tilted up to make it look like she’s precariously perched on a ledge. Nice work, guys. Maybe next time you should try and cut out the bits where you can actually see the ground at her feet. Ohhh…I’m on the edge of my seat. Will Darlene make it?

Search for the Beast

Don’t fall!

As you can see in the above picture, the "sheer cliff" is merely a slight incline. Nevertheless, Stone "rappels" down the 4-foot ‘cliff’s face’ to the ground and helps Darlene up to the top.

WHEW!!!!

Wow…we’re at the one hour mark…which means…it’s only been one hour since the start of the movie? It feels like a freakin’ year.

Anyway, we see the monster chasing Dan through the forest since, you know, he’s evil and has to die the Villain’s Ironic Death. In a oh-so-creative touch, Dan stumbles past a barrel laying on the ground with a shiny sticker that reads "Hazardous Waste." He finally makes it back to the van, jumps into the driver’s seat, and is immediately killed by the monster who was hiding in the back of the van. (Uhhh….ok. Sure. You know, there’s no way the monster could have gotten ahead of him and gotten into the van unnoticed, but what’s the point of discussing something so relatively mundane this late in the game?)

Time out…so you mean to tell me that the monster is a result of hazardous waste dumping? Well, I thought he’s been killing people for 25 years, if that’s the case, then why is the barrel and the label nearly brand new? Just what the hell is going on here? Oh that’s right. There is no explanation for this junk.

Ayyyyeeeeeeee!

Cut to see a young couple setting up camp. (Just to give you an idea of the quality of this film, the boy and girl are credited as "Stupid D. Klown" and "Tweetie"!)

The girl, dressed in knee-high stockings, red mini-skirt and halter top (while camping!) , gets scared by some noises in the forest, so the young gentleman comforts the distressed lass by bending her over a barrel of toxic waste (!!) and, well, doing what comes naturally.

In a scene which probably ranks high with the most ludicrous shots I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching, the monster sneaks up behind the couple, kills the guy, and continues with the job at hand…without the girl even noticing. (!) Unfortunately for you, the reader, I included a screen shot because my command of the English language doesn’t allow me to convey the utter vileness in this shot. (The scene manages to trump itself by fading to black while the girl moans with pleasure. Kudos, gentlemen, kudos.)

Search for the Beast

I’ve now traveled to movie hell.

I’m really about to lose my lunch here, so I’m going to wrap this up now.

Stone and Wendy make it back to a dirt road where they’re picked up by, Irony!, that crazy guitar playing freak (Credited as "Crazy Joe"). Crazy Joe drops Stone and Wendy off somewhere, who knows where, who cares, and later that night we see that he’s actually in cahoots with the monster. What a PLOT TWIST! Proving itself to be truly tasteless to the bitter end, the film concludes with Crazy Joe and the monster about to take turns, er, ‘pleasuring’ a captive young woman. (She’s bound to a wall and topless, naturally. ) (I think she’s the woman from the opening scene. God only knows.)

So, yes, I’m going to go barf now. Then I’m going to gouge out my eyes so I never have to see anything this horrible again in my life.

The End. (THANK GOD!)

Dennis Grisbeck (Nov 2007)

Afterthoughts

There is absolutely no overemphasizing what a bare-bones, sleazy, chintzy, pathetic…wait, let me get my thesaurus…piece of crap this movie is. It’s absolutely astounding that a concept this tacky, tasteless, and trite could ever be envisioned by a human being…let alone be realized on film. If I were forced to classify this film I think it would fair to place it into the Regional Redneck Soft-Core Porn Horror bin. Either that or just toss it into the garbage.

If you get a chance to see this film, do so.

I dare you.

I thought I’d treat you to a couple of quick closing-credit screen shots…why? Because I love y’all so much.

Search for the Beast

Stone’s horse, "Travelor"…I’m pretty sure that’s misspelled, but, hey, that’s the least of this film’s problems.

Search for the Beast

The Wonder Dog that can’t tell "ahead" from "behind".

Search for the Beast

Too bad I couldn’t have been blind and deaf during this scene.

Search for the BeastSearch for the Beast

At least the guy is honest.

Search for the Beast

It took two guys to play this monster? Um, ooooookay…

Read more about Search for the Beast at

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10 comments to Search For The Beast (1997)

  • Bryan

    Once again, a great review. I like the new look, too. This is one classy movie, but sad to say, Netflix doesn’t have it yet. I take that back, they have it under Bigfoot Terror. Now queued up. The screenshot of the Beast and Tweetie is probably the most perfect example of how an image is worth a 1,000 words, though for that one maybe 10,000. This should make for some entertaining laughs. Hey, if I can laugh at the non-MST3K version of “Manos”, I can take this (I hope).

    Good job!

  • I hope you’ve had a chance to watch this movie…like you mentioned, you can get it (along with 3 other crappy movies) in the “Big Foot Terror” boxed set

  • Colum

    Have this on the 4-way set, and it’s singlehandedly the worst I’ve ever seen. Ever.

    Ever.

  • Boy, you can say that again. It borders on the bizarre, and is so utterly cheap and sleazy. I wash my hands everytime I simply touch the DVD cover.

  • guts3d

    This sounds from the review like the crappiest sleazefest imaginable. I guess it puts the crap in crap-tastic! Great review! I shudder to think that some people paid actual cash to see this!

  • Brett

    WOW!! Just saw it for the 1st time and was totally blown away!!! Your review pretty much sums up the whole experience except for one thing. Dan states that he has to get Wendy back for the “insurance money.” Sorry I dont really know what to make of that one either. Great Movie!!

  • billy barnwell

    Hey guys,,there’s a sequel,,no kidding,,same Dr and Stupid D. Clown returns

  • @billy barnwell

    Oh lord, one part of me weeps, another rejoices 🙂

  • GAPeach

    Sigh… This probably means I’m WAY too into this stuff for my own good. BUT, still, certain things just HAVE to be said.
    Dennis, did you notice that “Richard Arledge” is the guy who (partly) played the beast and is the same guy from scene # 1 (who goes to the woods) as well? And, oh, also, in case you’ve not had enough, the director of this thing is suspiciously credited as one R. Arledge… Oh, the horror!

  • @GAPeach, sorry for the late reply, been on vacation 🙂 Anyway, no, I didn’t notice that. Good catch. And I do agree: The Horror!

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