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In the 1950s and 60s, there were practically zillions of giant
radioactive monster films. Giant shrews, ants, spiders, dinosaurs and
whatnot scared audiences and were immensely popular throughout the
world. For example, THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953) clearly led to
Japanese films such as Godzilla (1954) and its many spin-offs. In
general, these films were super-cheesy--having pretty second-rate
special effects (even for the time) and lousy dialog. Godzilla was a
guy in a reptile suit, TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE used a lobster and
THE KILLER SHREWS used hairy costumes placed on dogs--all very high on
the "cheese-o-meter". However, a very small number of these films did
have decent special effects for the time period and tried to be serious
entertainment--and IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA is one of them.
Unlike many giant monster films, IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA looked like it had a larger budget. Much of this was because they had the cooperation of the navy and because they used GOOD stock footage--not the usual grainy and irrelevant filler used in many of these films. It also looked big budget because of the work of Ray Harryhausen. Now, in the 21st century, his work appears rather crude and old fashioned, but for the mid-1950s it was state of the art and still holds up reasonably well if you aren't an idiot who expects CG and state of the art effects. Sure, the giant octopus looks a bit odd and is obviously controlled through stop-motion, but it is very well integrated into the scenes and still impresses. It's obvious that they really cared and wanted to make a quality picture.
As far as the romance and dialog goes, I will admit it has a lot of clichés--such as the brainy but sexy female scientist. However, it was handled a bit better than usual and at least Faith Domergue (a perennial in 50s sci-fi) was pleasant looking. I know it's weird, but I really get turned on by the "brainy scientists" in these film. In fact, I married one myself--though she has no experience, so far, with giant monsters! Don't worry folks--I showed this review to my wife and I am NOT in the dog house!
For lovers of the genre, this film is a must. For those who think giant monsters attacking mankind are stupid, then at least one is better than most of the rest!!
Ray Harryhausen wonderfully creates a giant octopus ravaging the Pacific Coast and then rooting itself in San Francisco Bay. The octopus is quite stunning and a marvel of stop-motion animation. Viewers are treated to it actually climbing on the Golden Gate Bridge(a model of course), squeezing a submarine, literally bringing a ship down to the depths, and throwing tentacles all over pedestrians in the San Francisco harbour. My only regret is that this is all too infrequent and most of it arriving at the end of the film. The rest of the story centers around Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domerge and Donald Curtis trying to discover what it is that held Tobey's submarine. There is also a weird love triangle among the three as well which enhances the story I believe. All in all this is a fine piece of classic science fiction entertainment.
When an atomic-powered submarine runs afoul of something most bizarre on
their radar, its Commander Pete Matthews decides not to risk the $ 55
million dollar naval submarine he commands and tries to head out of the area
but suddenly the submarine is unable to move while something outside them is
emitting radiation. Eventually after a considerable struggle, they do escape
and later discover that what had held them down was in fact a giant Octopus!
From scientists Dr. John Carter (Donald Curtis) & Dr. Leslie Joyce (Faith Domergue), working along with the military's Commander Matthews, we learn that this Octopus has undergone an atomic mutation and has now come to prey on man instead of fish and is all set to ravage the West Coast of America. Eventually it surfaces and attacks the Golden Gate Bridge while San Francisco panics in fear! Can It be stopped?
The real star of this film is Harryhausen's Giant Octopus, who even with only six tentacles, manages to make a more lasting impression on the viewer than most of the cast. That said, the theme of feminism is also an important undercurrent of this story and I felt Faith Domergue did a wonderful job with what she was given to work with. The moments she coaxes the trans-steamer survivor into admitting it was a giant Octopus that attacked his ship is a great one for her.
While this movie is much too slow getting to its eventual pay-off for most viewers, it's never bothered me as much because I felt Domergue and Tobey had a great chemistry on screen together and I actually liked the addition of their romance here. Still this has to be one of the first disaster films really considering how a giant Octopus nearly does in San Francisco...and well that's a cool and fun premise for a movie in my book (even if one does have to swallow one's disbelief).
It Came From Beneath The Sea was the first of many movies involving the
partnership of producer Charles H Schneer and Ray Harryhausen.
A giant octopus makes its way to San Francisco and attacks several ships and submarines on the way. When there, it brings down the Golden Gate Bridge and destroys several other landmarks before being attacked by flame throwers to send it back into the sea, where is it blown to bits by a torpedo.
The stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen is excellent, despite the fact that the movie's low budget made the octopus have six tentacles instead of eight.
The cast is lead by 50's sci-fi regulars Kenneth Tobey (The Thing From Another World, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms), Faith Domergue (This Island Earth) and Donald Curtis (Earth vs the Flying Saucers). A love triangle develops with these stars to keep the movie going.
I enjoyed this movie and is a must if you are a fan of 1950's sci-fi and Ray Harryhausen like me.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
It Came From Beneath the Sea was one of the better monster films from
the Fifties as Hollywood cinema was desperately trying to compete with
the small picture box gradually invading American homes. One of the
answers was large screen special effects and this film was one of the
best in that department.
Ray Harryhausen's name so far is still the only special effects man that I know who's name will actually encourage people to buy a movie ticket. He created some marvelous film monsters and this was one of his best.
The octopus we are told comes from the Mindinao Deep, a spot on our planet still not totally explored because it is the deepest part of our ocean's bottoms. Presumably there are a whole lot more like him around and in point of fact to this day we don't know all the creatures of the sea.
That perennial villain of Fifties Science fiction, atomic testing and/or radiation has made this big guy move out of the depths and try to capture Captain Kenneth Tobey's submarine. He barely gets away and Tobey's is the first of several incidents involving the creature. Scientists Faith Domergue and Donald Curtis are also on the job and the creature ends up in San Francisco Bay. He does a number on the Golden Gate bridge and then tries to beach himself at the Embarcadero. Army flame throwers see that doesn't happen.
Faith Domergue was a really beautiful woman who became known again through the Howard Hughes biographical film, The Aviator. She was at one time Hughes's main squeeze. This is probably the film she's most known for though. There's one scene where Domergue uses her best asset to convince a merchant seaman whose ship has been sunk by the octopus, but is afraid of being given a section 8, to fess up about the monster. Kind of campy, but fun.
The monster's no villain here as in some films. He's just a creature whose habitat man has disturbed that's trying to survive. Unfortunately we can't have him roaming the Pacific destroying all kinds of civilian and military activity. So he has to be killed. For me it was a bit sad seeing the outcome. I think other viewers will feel the same way.
In the 1950s cinema was subjected to (graciously in my case) a number
of things that came to wreak havoc on mankind. Be it nuclear enhanced
spiders and ants marching forth from the desert or various beings from
outer space come to deliver alien fury. Hell we even had giant water
snails laying slimy waste to all in their way. But what of the ocean?
So much potential down there. Rhedosaurus and Gojira had come from the
sea to lay a marker down for the big lizard, but what of the natural
creatures? Sharks? Well Spielberg's genre daddy was some 20 years away.
Whales? Crabs? Squids? Ah what about a giant Octopus? Now there is
scope for a riot. Lets make him a product of atomic blasting, awoken
from the Mindanao Deep, keep it sympathetic 9it's just being natural
after all), set up an attack on a bastion landmark of Americana and get
stop-mo genius Ray Harryhausen to work his wonders.
So they did. It Came from Beneath the Sea, if you pardon the pun, holds its head above water in the creature feature, sci-fi schlockers genre. Starring Faith Domergue (This Island Earth), Kenneth Tobey (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms) and Donald Curtis (Earth vs. The Flying Saucers), it has safe and solid genre credentials. Though guilty of being over talky, in that the science being offered up isn't worthy of such meanderings, the script does allow for a feminism angle that should be applauded for the time it was made. Even if it's almost smothered by the love tryst shenanigans of our three central players that is. Filmed on location in San Francisco to add some level of authenticity to the story and having a running time that doesn't let it outstay its welcome. It Came from Beneath the Sea is a fine genre piece worthy of yearly revisits. 7/10
Ray Harryhausen's giant octopus is a stop-motion MASTERPIECE!
An excellent film & story!
Trivia: The producer's budget wouldn't allow the creation of an 8-tentacled octopus, so it only has SIX legs (this isn't noticeable, 'cos u think the other two are under water!).
And, the City of San Francisco didn't want the "landmark of their city", the Golden Gate Bridge destroyed (even in miniature!), so the cameras & crew had to be "smuggled" on the actual bridge!
A MUST-SEE film from the 50's !
Having already starred in 'The Thing from Another World' (1951) and 'The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms' (1953), Kenneth Tobey completed a memorable treble of classic Sci-Fi films with this offering.
Make no mistake, 'It Came from Beneath the Sea' is one of the classics of the genre and as such is above the mundane criticism about poor script, narrative, performances etc. We all know that these monster-flicks from the 50's and 60's had their shortcomings, but they were made to a formula for a target audience and in this respect there is little to fault and much to commend.
Here we have a giant octopus, disturbed from it's Pacific lair by atomic testing, heading for San Francisco in a foul mood. The Harryhausen effects are great, the narrative follows a course of some scientific logic and Faith Domergue, if a little too old, looks good enough in her tight blouse.
Director Robert Gordon did little else of note which is surprising - he did a good enough job here and whilst not up to the standard of '20 Million Miles to Earth' (1957), 'It Came from Beneath the Sea' is still superior for its type.
BEST SCENE - no contest; the octopus trashing the Golden Gate Bridge.
Greatly enjoyed viewing this film in the 1950's and all the audiences were thrilled at seeing this sea monster tackle the Golden Gate Bridge and terrify all the people in San Francisco. This film cannot compare to the films being made in 2000, however, in 1955 it was a great B Film and is presently and always will be a great Classic. Kenneth Tobey, who was a submarine captain, "Body Shot",'93 gave an outstanding performance along with Faith Domerque,"The House of Seven Corpses",'74 who was a beautiful young actress and acted like a very strong willed woman who was hard to charm off her feet. Unfortunately, Faith had a short career due to her struggle with cancer. This is truly a great Classic Film of the 50's. Enjoy!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can't tell you how many times I tried to catch this flick over a span
of years but was always stymied in the attempt. Chalk it up to bad
timing, falling asleep or missing it in the cable listings. I might
have blown this one too but thanks to DVR, even nodding off would have
had a remedy.
The first thing I noticed here was that the black and white transfer I viewed on Turner Classics was phenomenally crisp and offered a first rate viewing experience. Ray Harryhausen's monster effects and the film makers' stop motion wizardry really brought a level of sophistication to this otherwise B grade sci-fi/horror film. Granted, the action isn't what modern day viewers would expect given the prevalence of CGI, but for the mid-Fifties, this was pretty cool.
But you know, the picture had it's share of goofs too, and it's the kind of stuff I live for with these old pictures. Remember when the airplane pilot spotted the pair of survivors in the rubber dinghy after the sailors abandoned ship during the first attack? When the scene transitions to the naval hospital, there are four men brought in!
Then this next scene, I had to wonder whether it was intentional or not because it was just so ironic. In the lab where the scientists and Commander Pete Matthews (Kenneth Tobey) are working, there's a prominently displayed sign that says 'No Smoking', but the commander spends his entire time taking drags on his cigarette.
But the one that really doubled me over was when Commander Matthews and Professor Joyce (Faith Domergue) are on the beach investigating the latest missing person headline, and the professor explains to the Admiral that the potential sea monster probably hasn't gone away from the area. Yet she and the commander are out in the ocean swimming!
Well if you can take your sci-fi with a grain of sea salt, this is probably one of the better giant mutant due to atomic radiation flicks you're likely to come up with from the era. The octopus attack on the Golden Gate Bridge was a pretty creative affair, and if you're going to make a stand for humanity, you might as well have the movie heroes blow the monster all to hell with an explosive torpedo. It sure does rule out a sequel though.
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