I learned this the hard way.
Quick Plot: First up is an erect horse penis.
I told you this wasn't the movie to watch next to a judge-y woman on the elliptical.
Anyway, said erect horse penis is attempting to mate with his partner in a decaying French chalet. Its keeper is Mathurin, an unimpressive man-child with a clever uncle named Pierre who is attempting to secure a marriage between Mathurin and the wealthy, beautiful, and not overly bright Lucy. Doing so will ensure financial stability for all involved, but a few problems stand in the way.
Aside from the fact that Mathurin is, well, kind of terrible, there's also the the less offensive but apparently more serious issue that he was never baptized, and thus, the Cardinal refuses to come and oversee the marriage. Meanwhile, in more pressing issues, Pierre's daughter keeps not getting the chance to complete intercourse with his sexy servant.
I'm giving plot details as if they matter, but truth be told, this is not a movie that thrives by its script. I have no memory of where I heard about La Bete or why I ever put it on my Netflix queue, but when it was moved from the dreaded purgatory of "saved" to "instant watch," I figured this was my chance.
La Bete is described as an erotic fantasy horror film, but unfortunately for me, there wasn't really any horror. Lucy fantasizes about being chased in the woods by a beast with a hard-on (who, oddly enough, bears a rather uncanny resemblance to Splinter from the early Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies), but it's played more for porn than scares.
Yes, that disappoints me.
Written and directed by Walerian Borowczyk, La Bete is certainly funny (especially when it pokes fun at the rules of aristocracy) and depending on your proclivities, can certainly be sexy. It's also somewhat annoyingly aimless. Without any real driving plot, the film somehow feels eons longer than its 90 minute running time, perhaps because so much of it just moves to the side for Lucy to masturbate with rose petals. If you've ever seen Disney's animated Beauty and the Beast with the cut Christmas song "Home" put back in, you'll kind of have a very clear idea of how too much of a thing can weight a movie down.
Especially at the gym.
I don't know that La Bete was ever meant to be an adaptation of Beauty & the Beast, but if you decide to think of it that way, it's kind of a wonderfully little wry spin on it, giving the prim belle an insatiable sexual appetite that's simply too much for the hairy creature she's supposed to fear
I mean, if you've ever had to ask "how much rose petal masturbation is too much rose petal masturbation," you'll kind of know my issues
The secret to escaping a horny forest beast involves wearing a lot of layers
When coitus is interrupted, make due with what you can, be that a pillow or bedpost
Nature is serious, never sad
Long out of print, La Bete is now streaming on Netflix, so if you once put it on your list and now have no real memory of why, this is probably the time to find out. I didn't have a great time with it, but there was enough oddness and jabs in a sort of French comedy of manners style (with more ejaculation than most) that made me certainly not regret delving in. Just remind me next time that I'm planning on watching a film in public to check that it's not classified as mid-core porn.