I spent a grueling weekend at a science fiction convention this past weekend. Quarters were tight, and we didn't have a lot of leg room. Seeing a movie or a concert in such conditions is one thing, but an entire weekend is quite another.

I was uncomfortable the whole time, and not merely because of the confined space. It was most certainly not my crowd. I felt wildly out of place. To coin a cliche, a stranger in a very strange land.

I woke early Sunday morning, with another day at the sci-fi circus ahead of me. Way too early, but residual stress prevented me from getting the sleep I desperately needed. I was too keyed up to read, so I decided to watch a predawn movie.

I had to readjust my karma and get in touch with the reaL me. I needed a dose of horror, and it wasn't the time for Don't Look Now or Kwaidan. I needed a rock bottom bad horror movie. Something terrible no one in their right mind would watch.

Looking over my movie collection, I decided upon The Being, a 1981 creature feature from writer-director Jackie Kong.

The Being was Kong's debut. I believe it was a moderate success, but her second feature, Night Patrol, was everywhere in the early days of VHS. I seemed to see the tape at every Mom and Pop rental I visited. Night Patrol's success largely stemmed, I think, from having Linda Blair in the lead. The movie is basically an hour-and-a-half fart joke, with cops. I like it.

Kong also did a farcical love letter to Herschell Gordon Lewis called Blood Diner. It is a big fan favorite.

Talent notwithstanding, Jackie Kong is a drive-in kind of director. One of us.

Kong was married to porn mogul Bill Osco. Osco made a lot of money in the industry, and he scored big with Flesh Gordon in 1974. His wife, Jackie, burned to make a movie, and she reportedly did a bunch of storyboards and a screenplay for her big opus. Osco graciously allowed her to make it by producing The Being.

The Being had a reasonable budget that set it apart from some of the really minuscule horror movies of the day. Fairly big names like Martin Landau, Jose Farrer, and Ruth Buzzi adorn the cast. Hollywood legend Dorothy Malone stumbles around with not a lot to do. Murray Langston, also known as the Unknown Comic, makes an appearance, as does author-musician Kinky Friedman. Ex-Mother of Invention Don Preston provided the soundtrack music.

It's a fun little early '80s shocker, with a lot of intentional humor that even works sometimes. The plot of The Being is basically Alien meets The Town That Dreaded Sundown by way of Tromaville.

Martin Landau, miles away from his Oscar-winning performance as Bela Lugosi, plays a potato baron who is dumping nuclear waste into local water systems. A gloppy monster arises from the muck, terrorizing denizens of a Podunk town. That's about it for the plot.

There are numerous cheesy gore effects, and some of them are done with verve and a modicum of skill. Heads are torn from bodies, there's a low rent chest bursting scene, and the monster is a lot of fun. By the end, when you finally get a good look at it, the Being rather resembles Aylmer from Henenlotter's Brain Damage.

The best scene is when the Being invades a drive-in theater and sucks a pothead stoner out of his car window.

The Code Red Blu-ray looks about a million times better than the murky VHS tape I watched in the mid-'80s. If you have a taste for this sort of thing, The Being hits all the right notes. This is a movie to grow old with.

Written by Mark Sieber

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