Wild Beasts / Belve feroci (1984)

2.0 out of 5

Sick bastard director Franco Prosperi sets out to create some menacing atmosphere in this animals-on-the-attack environmental thriller, but a soft jazz score reminiscent of Tootsie defeats some of the movie's many gory set pieces and overall mood.

The strangely concealed "Northern European City", Frankfurt, Germany, is under the spell of a form of chemical pollution in its water supply, this evidenced by the syringes and other urban filth being dumped into the waste system. Soon animals are attacking humans, and this allows for some truly crazy, and offensive, scenes. One involves elephants trampling across an airfield, screwing up planes, and another features a cheetah chasing a woman in a Volkswagen. Witnesses to this bit of reckless driving soon comment: "Hey, she's not crazy, she's being chased by a cheetah!" It's not even worth describing the rats.

Lots of unanswered questions about how and why PCP,yes PCP, got into the system, and why does only one domestic pet react violently toward its owner?

The final denouement involving humans is sloppily explained, but this isn't as deeply disturbing as director Prosperi's choice to photograph his annoying female protagonist's per-adolescent daughter from a variety of pornographic angles. Tons of synthesizer and drum machine on ear for lovers of electronic 80s scores, but the melodic soundtrack is as perplexing as the movie's premise. One impressive motorcycle stunt into a parked car is, unfortunately, dummy-less. A rampaging polar bear named Toto makes a cameo.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics