The Italian film industry was never just content to spot a trend, they had to top it! Everything from westerns to gothic horror to sex comedies were emulated and then exaggerated to offensive extremes. Case in point, Franco Posperi's Wild Beasts (1983) which doesn't just choose one species to let loose upon mankind, but an entire zoo full of PCP-crazed animals! Though it's a bit late to the "nature run amok" party, the film sends the sub-genre out with an unforgettable highlight reel of rats, cats, cheetahs, elephants and polar bears out for blood. Prosperi himself was already a legend in exploitation history, having been responsible for the Mondo film craze - a series of fearlessly shocking and titillating travelogues that later inspired ill-conceived copycats like Faces of Death - with co-director Gualtiero Jacopetti. Here he's working under equally dangerous circumstances with the same intent: to capture something onscreen that has never been seen before. And in that respect, Wild Beasts most certainly delivers. Working from a rough plot that doesn't little more than introduce potential victims, the film takes place in a nameless northern European city where zookeeper Rupert Berner (John Aldrich) begins to notice some unusual behavior from his favorite lion. The mania quickly spreads and an all-out jailbreak results after a trio of elephants smash the main gates. As Rupert and his journalist girlfriend attempt to slow things down, test results show that PCP in the animals' water supply is the cause of the carnage. But can the panicked citizens survive until the effects of the drug wear off...and, if so, what will be left of them!? Sharing the same urban setting as Michael Wadleigh's Wolfen, Wild Beasts doesn't bother with political subplots or Native American hocus-pocus; it's simply one gory attack scene after another, some amusingly ridiculous (who knew elephants were so mean-spirited!) and others so technically impressive you'll be dying to learn how it was done (three words: cheetah vs. car). What's even more amazing is that all of this was staged with no computer assistance, using real animals in often incredibly dangerous situations. In an era where it seems even the most innocuous wildlife used in movies is created entirely with CG, Wild Beasts ranks as one of the most ambitious exploitation movies ever. That said, it's not much more than the sum of its parts. A surprise ending pops up just as things are getting repetitive and, upon reflection, even the most cold-hearted viewer will probably cringe at the PETA-unfriendly treatment a swarm of rats receives early on (or appears to). Noel Marshall's Roar (1981) is still probably the tops when it comes to footage that will make your jaw drop. But Wild Beasts has the edge on sheer variety alone. Severin Films gives all this outrageousness a suitably special hi-def debut, starting with a very nice transfer that had to be a challenge considering most of the movie is set after dark. Extras include interviews with Prosperi, editor Mario Morra, Carlo Tiberti, son animal wrangler Carlo Tiberti, actor Tony Di Leo, along with the international trailer.



Interviews  I  Featurette

International Trailer