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The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
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Index 88 reviews in total 

29 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Lee Van Cleef saves the world!

Author: Nozze-Foto from Philadelphia, PA
11 February 2002

This is the movie that introduced me to monster-on-the-loose pictures. Warner Brothers did not pioneer the genre; RKO started it off in 1951 with THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. But it WAS Warner Brothers who began both the "radiation releases monster" and "radiation creates mutant monster" genre's with this film and THEM! two years later. I had never heard of Ray Harryhausen when I saw this for the first time at the tender age of 7 but I knew a scary monster when I saw it and this movie became an instant fave. Later I discovered Godzilla and could not figure out why that film had so much destruction and this one had so little. Later I learned about stop motion vs man-in-suit special effects. I also learned that Inoshiro Honda was using this film as a blueprint. Fantastic film! The first glimpse of the Beast is terrific! The destruction of the first ship is spellbinding! (That is Jack Pennick from many John Ford westerns as the shocked helmsman.) and the rampaging of The Beast through the streets of New York panicked me as a child. The only scene I did not (and still don't) care for is where the helpless blind man is knocked down and trampled by the fear crazed mob. The climax at Coney Island was amazing. I later found out the marksman in the end scenes is Lee Van Cleef who starred in so many spaghetti westerns. He actually saves the world in this movie. Well, maybe not the world, but New York anyway. I still watch this movie whenever I get a chance. When the film was new they tinted the underwater scenes where Cecil Kellaway is in the diving bell green. They did not restore the tinting to the video print and I think that was a mistake. Maybe when the movie gets to DVD they will do so. Don't miss your chance to discover this film. You will enjoy it.

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28 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

THE BEST DINOSAUR MOVIE EVER MADE

Author: sferber from NYC
8 August 2002

"The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" is, quite simply, the best dinosaur-on-the-loose movie ever made. I would say "best monster-on-the-loose movie ever made" if it weren't for that King Kong guy (need we even say which version?). I loved "The Beast" when I was a little kid, and today--some 40 years later--the movie still knocks me out. Forty years ago I loved the fact that, unlike a lot of similar movies that followed in its wake, you don't have to wait a long time for the Beast to make its appearance. It shows up in the first 10 minutes of the film and makes regular appearances thereafter. The look of the creature is very realistic; one of Ray Harryhausen's greatest creations. There are so many terrific set pieces in this film that one doesn't know where to begin, but the attack on the lighthouse, beautifully done in silhouette; the initial sighting of the Beast from the bathysphere; the Beast's attack on lower Manhattan; and the grand finale at the Coney Island roller coaster are certainly all standouts. Music, acting and photography are all first rate, and the script is intelligent and moves along briskly and with purpose. But the main attraction of the movie is the Beasty himself, and every moment that he is on screen is riveting. This picture is a true classic; the inspiration for Godzilla and all the other thawed-out creatures that followed. I have seen this one over 50 times and never seem to get tired o f it. I have seen it several times on the big screen, at one of NYC's many revival theatres, and it is always greeted with cheers whenever the Beast theme begins during the opening whirlpool credits. The movie is well loved and remembered for good reason: It's the best in its class! By the way, it took me many, many years to figure out, but the Professor's last word in the diving bell is "cantileveric." 10/10

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26 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Superior F/X Sets This One Apart...

7/10
Author: (bsmith5552@rogers.com) from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
9 September 2001

"The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" is one of many "nuclear explosion thaws out the pre-historic monster" movies popular in the 1950's. What sets this film apart from other similarly themed films, are the superior special effects created by the legendary Ray Harryhausen.

His dinosaur is as good as you will see in any sci-fi movie. It moves without that jerky motion common in so many stop-motion monsters (i.e. King Kong). The "monster destroys the city" sequence is outstanding. There is also an excellent fight between an octopus and a shark that is very exciting. The best sequence takes place at the end of the film when the monster is cornered in an amusement park.

As in all such movies, the human actors are incidental to the plot. The German/Swiss actor Paul Christian (aka Hubschmid) plays the requisite scientist, Paula Raymond and Cecil Kellaway are the "dinosaur experts" and Kenneth Tobey and Donald Woods play the sceptical military types. There are also a number of recognizable "B" movie faces from the period such as Lee Van Cleef, Steve Brodie, Jack Pennick and James Best.

One of the best atomic monster movies from the 50s.

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31 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Attack of the Rhedosaurus

7/10
Author: clydestuff from United States
31 July 2004

If one is in need of a good laugh, there is no better place to start than by watching many of the creature features churned out in the fifties and sixties. Why else do we sit down to watch such perfectly awful schlock like The Giant Gila Monster or The Giant Claw? It is the total ineptitude of the film making process involved in putting those films onto celluloid that makes them endearing to us in their own special way. There were however, a few films of the era that somehow managed to rise above total mediocrity enough so that we can watch them simply because they are decent well made films. This is not to say they are any kind of spectacular cinematic achievement, but in comparison to the usual dreck of that era, they shine like the North Star.

The Beast from 20, 000 Fathoms is a giant dinosaur that has spent the last few million years as a perpetual frozen Popsicle. When some scientists start monkeying around with nuclear testing as they often did in these types of film, the beast does a quick thaw, and wakes up mighty darn hungry. When scientist Tom Nesbitt (Paul Christian) witnesses the creature, and his companion becomes dinosaur fodder, nobody believes him of course, attributing it to delusional traumatic distress, known more commonly in the fifties as hallucinations. Just as Tom is also about to chalk the whole thing up to delirium, he reads about a boat being attacked by a giant sea serpent. It is then that he enlists the aid of Paleontologist Professor Thurgood Elson (Cecil Kellaway), and his assistant Lee (Paula Raymond). The old professor says no dice, it just ain't happening. Lee, however, seems to be hot for Tom's heavy Swiss accent and has him look through some dinosaur mug shots to see if he can identify the beast. After a quick scene in which they let us know that if this film were being made in 2004, Tom and Lee would be looking at the pictures in the bedroom instead of just making eye contact, Tom identifies the beast as a Rhedosaurus. Lest you decide to go looking up what a Rhedosaurus is in the Dinosaur Almanac, I'll save you the trouble by telling you it's a complete figment of the imagination of the writers and animator Ray Harryhausen. From here the chase is on, and eventually the Rhedosaurus decides to homestead in New York City.

There are several reasons why Beast stands out as a cut above normal. Though the script contains the usual inane dialog one expects, the fact that Tom and Lee come up with a decent intelligent plan to prove its existence helps a great deal. There is also the fact that they actually give us a reason as to why the Rhedosaurus is moving down the Atlantic coast instead of making it all seem like random attacks. Foremost, and most importantly, the film works because of the animation of Harryhausen. Forced by a low budget to do all the work on animating the Rhedosaurus by himself, Harryhausen does a terrific job at bringing the beast to life, despite the fact that at times its size changes to fit the scene it happens to be in. After this film, Harryhausen did all of his animations working alone until Clash of the Titans where for the first time he required the help of assistants. It makes one almost regret the use of CGI in films today, as the animations by Harryhausen always had a certain kind of charm to them. Despite continually being saddled with low budgets (the entire budget for Beast was $200,000), Harryhausen could always be counted on to bring a certain amount of class to many of these films that would have otherwise ended up as just another vehicle for Mystery Science Theater. It should also be mentioned that Director Lourie who spent most of his career as an art director and production designer, does a terrific job in the Arctic Scenes, and especially in the New York scenes as soldiers following a trail of Rhedosaurus blood are overcome by radiation sickness.

There are of course the usual bits of silliness that seem to go with the territory. Professor Elson gives a running commentary as he discovers the Rhedosaurus while in a diving bell though he is quite oblivious to the fact that the creature has decided to make him today's appetizer. Likewise a New York policeman uselessly empties sidearm before experiencing his own private version of an esophagus water slide.

As for the acting, it's nothing terribly outstanding but still much better than what you usually get. Cecil Kellaway was always good in roles such as these and his presence alone will lift any film a notch or two. Some may complain about the woodenness of Christian and his Swiss accent, but I found his acting to be quite adequate and was actually glad of the accent as it seemed to add a little more to the character. As for Raymond, she's fine too but could have used a little help in the wardrobe department as one particular dress she wears is too hideous for any film of any decade. Other than that though, she's quite good.

Best of all, Beast is available on DVD and if you are inclined to revisit these old films this is one definitely worth a purchase. And believe it or not, the DVD also has a few extras on it, including previews of other Harryhausen films, an interview with Harryhausen, and a section where Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury reminisce about the good old days. While it may not seem like much, it is infinitely more than you usually get for these kinds of films.

Beast will never win any kind of the accolades reserved for films of obviously better quality, but for me it's just good enough that one can watch and enjoy simply because it is a step or two up from what you might expect. And if you're a step or two up I have no choice but to give you my grade which for Beast from 20,000 fathoms is a B.

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17 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

One of the All-Time Greats

Author: Brian Washington (Sargebri@att.net) from Los Angeles, California
3 April 2003

This film is not only a great science fiction film, but it is also one of the most influential as well. Within a few years of its release, giant monster films began to pop up from every major studio. Everything from giant ants, tarantulas, praying mantises and gila monsters began to pop up all over the place. But, perhaps its biggest influence was felt in Japan. This film is often sighted as being the main inspiration for Gojira (Godzilla). This film is defintely a classic.

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16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

50's monster action at its best.

Author: Chris Gaskin from Derby, England
31 January 2002

Ray Harryhausen's first solo effort at stop-motion resulted in one of the best monster movies of the 1950's.

This was the first of the many rampage films of the 1950's and was a great success at the box office. Ray's stop-motion Redosaurus is magnificent, considering the low budget.

One of the best scenes in this movie is where the Rhedosaurus eats the policeman. The acting is rather good and the cast includes Kenneth Tobey (The Thing From Another World) and an early appearance from Lee Van Cleef before he stared with the 'carrot' in It Conquered the World.

I enjoyed this movie and rate it 5 stars out of 5. Great stuff.

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20 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

A piece of sci-fi history.

10/10
Author: G.Spider from UK
15 May 2001

The first true Harryhausen films, and it's a real landmark film, the first of the atomic age monster movies (and one which led to the creation of a certain Japanese monster).

Atomic tests in the arctic release a prehistoric beast which has been trapped in the ice for millions of years. In no time the mysterious creature is wrecking havoc, but sceptical scientists refuse to believe in the existence of such a thing.

In common with a lot of Harryhausen's creations, the Beast itself has a real character, is a believable animal rather than just a monster. The film is cleverly-written and the characters are well-thought-out. A first-rate tale.

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22 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Forget about Jurassic Park...

7/10
Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
6 August 2003

To hell with over-budgeted movies like Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Reign of Fire and God knows which others...Sure you can watch those with your mouth wide wide open wondering what great computer specialists are behind this but...where's the LOVE ??? If you're looking for charming monster films, turn back your clock towards the 50's. Without a doubt the greatest decade for movies like this. Tons of movies like this one were made back then but every single title was made with a lot of love. Them! , the Swarm and the Giant Spider Invasion are probably the best known ones. The Beast from 20.000 Fathoms handles about a ... dinosaur !!! A rethosaurus, aged one million years, comes to live again. It got frozen during the change of the eras and now, because of the enormous heat of a nuclear experiment, it's back . The creature ( about as big as a skyscraper ) goes directly into the ocean. He attacks a few boats and the people who claimed to have seen him are called crazy in the beginning...( can you blame them ? ). But, when our dinosaur sets foot in New York, the city faces the biggest terror it ever saw. The Beast is definitely not the best monster movie coming from the 50's, but still. If you admire the older days of cinema more as well, you'll love it a hell of a lot more than then nowadays stuff. The creature is well made, but it shouldn't move too much. The fight shown between the shark and the octopus is really impressive, that must be said. The ants in Them! were a lot more real, but hey, this fella is ten times as big. Lovely B-movie fun

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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Still brings a tear to my eye

8/10
Author: shugaron316 from United States
2 October 2005

When I was a kid,I would cry every time I saw the ending of this movie.I couldn't help feeling sorry for the monster,dying alone in a world he never knew. Ray Harryhausen was at his best when he designed the Rhedosaurus. This was a monster with a personality,and dare I say it,charm? Every little movement of the beast almost made you think you were watching an actual living creature,and not some stop motion puppet,like the awful Giant Behemoth. My favorites: the beast sniffing at the lighthouse before he knocks it down;the way he playfully bats at the wrecked car he stepped on,when he turns his back and lashes his tail at the shotgun toting cops,even the way it squints its eyes in the sun.The death scene was well done,and the music,as the flaming roller coaster collapses behind the beast's dead body,still sends a chill up my spine. The worst part of the movie was the casting,especially the male and female leads. Paul Christian's accent is almost impossible to understand at times,and his acting is wooden.Paula Raymond may seem pretty by '50's standards,but I think she has a pronounced overbite and adenoids,the way her mouth is always hanging open! Her acting was also pretty limp.Cecil Kelloway was a delight,as usual,and Ken Tobey was unusually restrained,not trying to hit on Raymond,as he seemed to do in most of his movies. The funniest line in the movie was Kelloway asking Tobey:"What makes you think there are no flying saucers?"(A dig at Tobey's role in The Thing.)Still in all,this is timeless sci-fi classic that holds up well,even today.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Classic 1950s Sci-Fi film

10/10
Author: vtcavuoto from United States
9 September 2005

Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is based on a Ray Bradbury story. An atomic explosion unleashes a dinosaur( don't these atomic tests ALWAYS cause something to wake up?) in the Artic. A scientist witnesses the dinosaur but nobody believes him. A professor helps locate the beast and finally the beast is destroyed at Coney Island. I don't want to give too much away in case you want to view it. The acting is very good. Two of my favorite B-movie actors are in this: Kenneth Tobey and Cecil Kelloway. Ray Harryhausen's effects are terrific. Eugene Lourie does a good job directing. The pace of the film keeps the viewer interested. This was the inspiration for Godzilla(1954-Toho Studios). This is a classic B-movie from the 50s that you will enjoy.

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