Beg! (1994)

Adapted from a play co-written (with David Glass) by star Peta Lily, this murky, hard-to-follow melodrama is set in St. Caninus Hospital, a futuristic filthy hellhole stranded somewhere between Lindsay Anderson's Britannia Hospital and a DTV slasher picture like Mind Ripper. When a researcher is gruesomely murdered, the goofy Detective Stillskin (Philip Pellew), assigned to investigate, becomes obsessed with the dead doctor's colleague-lover (Lily) and degenerates into insanity as a catspaw of a bald master villain (Oleg Fedorov).

Much is made of the vivisection of dogs and rats, and there are lots of 'significant' patches of unimpressive dialogue, plus a surprising number of scenes in which characters are overcome by passions in filthy medical surroundings. The acting style is uniformly ranting and director Robert Golden works hard at cranking up the ominousness with red, blue and green filters, claustrophobic institutional interiors, dollops of surgical grue (the cop removing mind control implants from his mouth and ears) and fairly seamy sexual content (Lily makes one victim beg like a dog before reaching for the garden shears). An especially contrived murder method involves the surgical insertion of a live poodle into the chest cavity of an anaesthetised doctor, with a follow-up scene in which the dog bursts out. Fedorov winds up crucified and cut in half at the waist, but still gritting his teeth in comical agony. Pretentious, unpleasant and dull.
KIM NEWMAN

First published in this form here.


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