Weird Movie Corner: Het Beest (1982)
Director: Paul Collet & Stijn Coninckx
Harry Melchior (Willem Ruis), an investment banker, finds out that the company he works for has plans to demolish his mother's house for one of their projects. He tries to stop them by occupying the house, but eventually gets arrested, put into jail and loses his job. When his mother dies shortly after moving into a nursing home, Melchior snaps and seeks revenge on his former colleagues.
Paul Collet was a Flemish director who, with the collaboration of Pierre Drouot, in the 60s & 70s made a few groundbreaking cult movies. After Paul Collet ended his collaboration with Pierre Drouot in 1975, he couldn't manage to get a new project off the ground. Collet asked Willem Ruis, a famous television presenter in The Netherlands, for the role of Harry Melchior in Het Beest, hoping to get his movie financed. Willem Ruis saw this as an opportunity to see his dream to become an actor come true and agreed to do the role.
The colloboration between Collet & Ruis was a difficult one. Willem Ruis realised that this movie was not what he envisioned to be, and after the shoot was over, he and fellow financier John de Mol (now one of the biggest producers in The Netherlands) pressed to shoot additional scenes for the Dutch market, with more emphasis on action and less on the psychological elements in Collet's story.
I always had (and still have) a weak spot for Willem Ruis, but he is not a great actor. Kudos to him for trying though. Some of the storylines are far fetched and border on the ridiculous. Het Beest has a grotesk apotheosis when Melchior goes to a fox hunt where his former colleagues entertain themselves with their power hungry wives, lets his frustations out and goes after them in a sort of 'Dutch Rambo-esque' way. Het Beest is a curiosity in Dutch film history and I would say it could possible achieve some cult status if people would rediscover it.
Despite the enormous popularity of Willem Ruis, the movie was not a success. Paul Collet vanished from the movie scene until 1993, when he made the movie Close, which also flopped. The movie was released on DVD in 2007, which is the director's cut, as was the version shown in Belgium cinemas. The DVD is out-of-print, and if you can find it, you have to pay a hefty price for it. It was Willem Ruis only official movie role, he died in 1986, aged 41.