Film / The Beast

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A 1996 made for TV-movie adaptation of Peter Benchley's book, Beast. The film makes some radical changes from the book, while maintaining its basic plot: a giant squid is terrorizing a community and must be stopped.

Starring William Petersen.

Tropes Found In This Work Include:

  • Adaptation Name Change: The book's Whip Darling is now Whip Dalton.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Goes from a Bermuda setting to an island off the coast of Washington State.
  • Black Best Friend: Mike to Whip.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Not only averted overall, but during one squid attack, Mike is the only one to survive.
  • Brains Evil, Brawn Good: Hero Whip Dalton is a brawny fisherman, while the villainous Schuyler Graves is a classic bespectacled nerd—at one point, Dalton even sneers at him about his "Harvard education" as though this is something to be ashamed of. Dalton also sneers at him about how "you're still the same creepy little kid you always were", indicating that Dalton either (a)bullied him back during their school days and has no remorse over doing so, or worse yet, (b) protected him from bullies and now regrets doing so. All of which is presented as perfectly okay, especially since Graves proves himself to be more and more of a jerk as the movie progresses.
  • Canon Foreigner: Schuyler Graves.
    • He's a minor character, but Christopher doesn't exist in the book either.
  • Composite Character: Kathryn Marcus is a composite of Marcus Sharp (Whip's best friend in the book) and Marcus' dead girlfriend (and Gwen Stacy) Karen.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Schuyler Graves basically runs the town of Graves Point simply because he owns a profitable business and the town carries his name.
  • Death by Adaptation: Talley survived in the book.
    • Whip's wife is also alive and well throughout the novel.
  • Developing Doomed Characters:
  • Dirty Coward: To save his own political career and keep his ass off the line, Graves tries (and fails) at every opportunity to back out of the final showdown. When he gets roped into it anyway, he takes the only life boat to head back to shore, abandoning everyone else.
  • Disposable Woman: It is painfully obvious that Talley's assistant Christopher's sole purpose for even existing is to be a male version of this to Whip's daughter Dana thanks to their Love at First Sight meeting. A review of the film even snarked about this.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The sight of Schuyler Graves returning from the mainland with a bag of—gasp!—golf clubs is supposedly enough to tell the audience that he's a rich jerk who only cares about making money.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: A dog seems to sense the squids presence and barks ferociously.
  • Film of the Book
  • Giant Squid: The titular beast.
  • Idiot Ball: Manning fills the harpoons with a sedative instead of cyanide, in order to bring the squid back to his ocean park in Texas, thus endangering everyone present.
  • In-Name-Only: The film changes so much of the material that the only things they pretty much share are a giant man-eating squid and the main character being named Whip.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Graves is portrayed as a jerk for only wanting the creature dead to return the town to prosperity, but given that tourism and fishing are the chief sources of income and that both have been badly affected, that's actually a completely legitimate reason.
    • He's also seen as a sniveling coward for not wanting to go out on the squid-catching expedition, but he's right—there's no reason for him to go, and with his complete lack of knowledge about boats, he'd be a hindrance. It's the equivalent of Brody/Hooper/Quint demanding that Mayor Vaughn accompany them on their shark-hunting expedition.
  • Kick the Dog: A dog winds up in the water and encounters the squid. The trope is averted in this instance, however. The dog manages to escape, with his unknowing family wondering why he's all wet and hiding under the car.
  • Kill It with Fire: How the squid is dealt with.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Manning gets killed by the squid after not killing it because he wants to put it on display, and Graves gets killed after cowardly abandoning everyone on the boat to take the only life raft and head back to shore.
  • The Lost Lenore: Whip's wife, who loved to dive, died at sea at the Admiral Burnham wreck, which is why he so adamantly refuses to take two young divers there even though they offer a substantial payment.
  • Mama Bear: The squid turns out to be a mother, and gets very mad when her child is killed.
  • Only in It for the Money: Graves only facilitates action against the squid to be rid of it and return Graves Point to prosperity.
    • During the climax Osborn Manning reveals he didn't poison the squid as planned, but sedated it so he could put it on display.
  • Recycled Premise: The Beast is essentially a re-hash of Jaws. Based on a Peter Benchley novel? Check. Giant marine predator terrorising a small maritime town? Check. A dog in peril? Check. Corrupt Corporate Executive? Check. Capturing the animal you think is responsible only for it to be a baby? Check. An expert obsessed with catching the creature, only to be killed by it? Check. Climactic final battle at sea with the creature? Check. There's even talk of the squid being out for revenge.
  • Red Herring: Halfway through the film, they think they've caught the squid, but it's only the baby.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The mother squid in the second half goes on a rampage after the death of its child.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Whip refuses to take a young couple to dive the dangerous Admiral Burnham wreck, even when they offer him $1000.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After it's been revealed that the beast was not poisoned but sedated and might wake up soon, Graves takes the only life raft and high tails it, leaving everyone else at the mercy of the beast.
  • Shout-Out: At least one TV critic likened the above-mentioned scene with the dog to the one in Jaws. The difference being that this time, the canine survived.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: As Whip lectures and belittles him about his rich background, Graves hits back with:
    "What, I'm supposed to feel guilty because I didn't drop out of school and go broke like you did?"
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Kathryn survives even though both of the characters she's comprised of are killed in the book.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Instead of poisoning the giant killer sea monster, just sedate it so you can tow it back to the mainland in a boat? Definitely no ways that that could backfire.
  • Too Happy to Live: Subverted. Mike is injured from his encounter with the squid, but lives, despite being Happily Married and with a baby on the way.


Alternative Title(s): Beast

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/TheBeast