I have never seen horses have sex (nor has the opportunity ever risen), but the opening sequence of Walerian Borowczyk’s THE BEAST decided to break my cherry. With close ups of horse vaginas gaping open for the taking, I did not deny what would come next, but a huge dripping horse penis accepting the inviation was still a bit of a surprise. Little did I know this was only a preview of things to come as I witnessed a woman repeatedly gyrating naked on a bed post. While these sequences aren’t exactly shocking, they provoke a humous reaction preparing the viewer to maybe not take things so seriously or that’s how I’m interpreting it at least.
The trainer, Mathurin, who watches the horse mating, is set to marry the young Lucy (Lisbeth Hummel) per her late father’s will. After receiving letters from her future husband (whom she’s never met), Lucy is excited to see her future home and meet Mathurin. It is rumored the house is haunted, but what is for sure, maybe not to their knowledge, is that there is a beast of sorts roaming the grounds. That beast in question has a huge dangerous member that he’s not afraid to use and his sexual impulses take over Lucy and she begins to fantasize about the beast after a near case of sexual assault.
These sequences are not for the conservative heart as gallons of bodily fluids are sprayed onto the screen without limits, accompanied by a strange musical number leaving some head scratching as to how exactly one is supposed to be feeling about what they just saw. Graphic sex scenes that don’t exactly feel erotic are inter-spaced within the film, spliced with peeks at animal genitalia. It feels almost like the filmmaker is trying to test the limits of the audience. Regardless of their purpose, Borowccyk deserves credit for doing his own thing, without restriction. There’s some interesting masturbation sequences that make you wonder “How did they shoot that?” Granted, some of these shots are extreme close ups so a double could have easily been used, but kudos again on having this bizarre material make it to the screen.
It is questionable how a feminist class would interpret some of the events here as unconventional perversions are portrayed, all involving women and their link to beastiality. Fortunately, the beast is obviously played by a man in costume and maybe no harm came to any animal involved (except maybe the horse in the opening sequence), but you definitely want to be a fly on the wall when the actors and actresses read the script for the first time, if there was one. THE BEAST does focus on dialogue heavy scenes in the first hour and drags a bit, but the last half hour is something you wouldn’t believe.
I’ve never heard of this movie until now and have no idea how it was received upon initial release or even how people look back at it now, but I know even compared to today’s lack of censorship, this movie pushes the boundaries and I am watching as the filmmaker’s intention.