Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 3rd, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1984
Director: Franco E. Prosperi
Writers: Franco E. Prosperi, Antonio Accolla
Cast: Lorraine De Selle, John Aldrich, Ugo Bologna, Louisa Lloyd, John Stacy, Enzo Pezzu, Monica Nickel
DVD released: November 9th, 2011
Approximate running time: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English, Dolby Digital Stereo Italian, Dolby Digital Stereo German
Subtitles: English, German
DVD Release: Camera Obscura
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: 26.99 EUR
Synopsis: When the drinking water at a zoo becomes contaminated, all the animals escape and wreak havoc on the city.
Wild Beasts was co-written and directed by Franco E. Prosperi, who is most known for his collaborations with Gualtiero Jacopetti, most notably Africa addio and Goodbye Uncle Tom. The cinematographer on Wild Beasts was Guglielmo Mancori, who’s other notable films as a cinematographer include Run, Man, Run, A Quiet Place to Kill (Paranoia), Web of the Spider and Live Like a Cop Die Like a Man. The score for Wild Beasts was composed by Daniele Patucchi, who’s other notable scores include, The Man from the Deep River, Frankenstein ’80 and Plot of Fear.
Animal cruelty in Italian cinema reached its apex with the release of such films like, Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox in the early 1980’s. And while many of the filmmakers, who participated in these films have since tried to distance themselves from the acts of cruelty they orchestrated. It is difficult to absolve them of any wrong doing, since they clearly knew what they were doing and the only victims were the animals in their films.
When discussing animal cruelty in Italian cinema one most not overlook the impact that films like, Africa addio and Goodbye Uncle Tom had on what would later immerge as a subgenre known as cannibal films. So it should not come as a surprise that Wild Beasts was directed by Franco Prosperi, who also just happen to co-direct those two aforementioned films.
Content wise, Wild Beasts is far from being as graphic in its cruelty as the aforementioned Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox. And on the flip side it is not as clever about delivering its subject matter like films Africa addio and Goodbye Uncle Tom were. Ultimately Wild Beasts falls somewhere in between these two extremes.
Narrative wise, the plot is very lean and can be best summed up as a series of set pieces in which animals terrorize and in many instances kill human beings. The film’s opening setup interjects two main themes, the dangers of neglecting ones offspring and humanity injustices the animals. And while such poorly constructed narrative can often derail a film, it is not the case here as the set pieces with the escaped animals are the main attraction. With some of this films stand out moments being a couple that are eaten alive by rats, a cheetah chasing a woman in her car and German Sheppard that goes for the jugular of his blind owner. Also once the animals start attacking, the narrative moves at a relentless pace that sustains right up until the film’s shocking finale.
Camera Obscura presents Wild Beasts in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones look accurate and black levels look consistently good throughout. Details look sharp and there are no problems with compression.
This release comes with three audio options, a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in English, a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Italian and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in German. All three audio mixes are in good shape as dialog always comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and there are no issues with distortion or background noise. Also included with this release are removable English (these appear to be a proper translation of the Italian language track and not ‘dub titles’) and German subtitles.
Extras for this release include a Italian language trailer (2 minutes 19 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a stills gallery and two featurette’s the first one titled Prosperi Uncaged (28 minutes 26 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles) and the second one titled Bruschini Goes Wild (17 minutes 47 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles).
The first featurette is a interview with co-screenwriter / director Franco E. Prosperi, who discusses the origins of this film project, how difficulties early on in the production forced them to change shooting locations from Africa to Europe, he also extensively talks about working with the various animals that are featured in the film, most notably the scene in which a cheetah chases a young woman that is frantically trying to get away in her car, the cast and various other production related topics. The second featurette is a interview with Italian film critic Antonio Bruschini, who only gives a brief summation about his thoughts on this film. It should be noted that this was his final interview, he passed away shortly after filming this interview and the latter half of the interview is a tribute to his memory.
Also included with this release is a DVD booklet that includes a insightful and detailed essay about horror films that prominently feature animals in their plot. This essay is presented in dual text, English and German. This release also comes with multi-lingual menus, English and German. Overall Wild Beasts gets an exceptional release from Camera Obscura.