The Film (5/5)
Franco Prosperi is most well known to cult viewers as the director of the Mondo Cane series of films (alongside co-director Gualtiero Jacopetti). The films were of the semi-staged documentary variety, however, at the end of his career as a director he would make one narrative feature 1984's Wild Beasts. This film would combine his skills working with animals in the Mondo films, and combine them with the shock horror that was popular in Italy at the time to create a unique and outstandingly bizarre cinematic cocktail that stands along the recently revived ROAR as a title that must be seen to be believed.
The plot of this one is simple and allows Prosperi to go wild with the visual elements. A wild strain of PCP gets into the water supply in a neighborhood surrounding a zoo. As any exploitation fan who has seen his or her share of trash cinema knows, PCP makes people, and now apparently animals go crazy, and that it does. Everything from rats, elephants, tigers, and more go on the rampage, breaking free and start attacking anything they can.
This is a film that gets what little exposition there is out of the way, and then hits the ground running. The film goes from one amazing scene of animal attack to another with great frequency leaving almost no time for the audience to get bored with the film, so Prosperi is really packing a punch here. The animals were handled by circus trainers so their choreography is handled quite elegantly, and everything looks pretty fantastic. There obviously are close up moments where they can't quite show everything full on, and the effects aren't perfect, but for what it is this is absolutely fantastic. We also get a quite solid score from Daniele Patucchi who scored Man From Deep River which is more somber in tone, and undercuts the action, but in a way that fits the film quite well, and is in stylistic keeping with what Prosperi was doing with the Mondo Films.
Severin brings Wild Beasts to Blu-ray in a solid 1:67:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. Everything looks quite solid here, colors are mostly stable, detail is fine, and grain is naturally rendered. There is slight damage and minor issues with colors fluctuation, but overall everything looks good and stable, and there is rarely anything to complain about on the image side.
English Audio is handled with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track Italian is Dolby Digital 2.0 both tracks are solid with no issues, and come through clean and clear.
Severin has put together an excellent package for their release of Wild Beasts, we get separate interviews with Prosperi, actor Tony DiLeo, editor Mario Morra, and also a family of Italian circus people. There is also a trip to the home of Franco Prosperi from 2007, and a trailer for the film.
Wild Beasts is a wild ride, that combines the world of Mondo that Prosperi helped successfully create with the violent shock horror that Italy was exporting at the time. Severin's Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and comes with an excellent slate of extras HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.