Last night’s viewing was the new Severin Blu-ray release of Franco Prosperi’s delirious nature on the rampage Italian horror from 1984, Wild Beasts. Amazingly, I had never seen this film before, despite being a big fan of the nature amok genre and the fact that it had been released locally on VHS in the 1980s.
Prosperi was considered one of the godfathers of the extreme mondo documentary genre (Mondo Cane, Africa Addio), and his roots certainly show at various points throughout Wild Beasts, particularly during its opening sequence. The film (which looks to have been filmed in Frankfurt but is listed only as an “Eastern European City”) has wild animals from the local zoo, including cheetahs, lions, polar bears and elephants, as well as sewer rats and seeing eye dogs, going beserk after drinking water laced with PCP, rampaging through the city streets mauling, munching and trampling on terrified (and stupid) citizens.
Watching the film, I couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy when thinking of what sort of treatment the animals would have likely received on set (the sewer rats in particular do not look to have fared so well), but as a seedy piece of lurid Euro exploitation it entertains from start to finish, with gore galore, a great soundtrack by Daniele Patucchi, and plenty of crazed WTF? moments that will make even the most hardened horror fan’s jaw drop.
And like all Severin releases, Wild Beasts not only looks stunning but has a great selection of special features that make this a must-have for fans of the genre.