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Ted V. Mikels
A scientific expedition in Mexico discovers several unusual baby octopus specimens. When they capture several of the critters their half-man/half-octopus parent appears to terrorize the hapless scientists. Written by
Jeremy Lunt <email@example.com>
Screenwriter Harry Essex, who'd worked on such classics as "It Came from Outer Space" and "The Creature from the Black Lagoon", does his first genre feature as a director in this 1971 schlock favourite that could just as easily have been made in the 1950s. It has that sort of feel to it, and one can believe that this script of his may have been in existence since that decade. It's silly fun with an ecological function as scientists working in an unidentified Latin American country seek to prove the effects of radiation on the animal kingdom. As one can clearly see, Essex still had CftBL very much on his brain with the way this ultimately turns into a beauty and the beast tale. Well meaning Dr. Rick Torres (fantasy star Kerwin Mathews, looking incredibly serious) and his crew soon run into the almighty Octaman, a humanoid octopus thing shambling along in the way that only men in rubber costumes can do. Character actor Read Morgan is the man in the suit, and does what he has to do quite adequately. Co-starring are lovely Pier Angeli (who died during production) as a typical damsel in distress, whose function is to basically scream at the monster and be carried off on more than one occasion, and Jeff Morrow ("This Island Earth", "The Giant Claw") who actually has only one scene as Ricks' associate Dr. John Willard. The supporting cast is mostly made up of unknowns, although Buck Kartalian, as the ill-fated Raul, had a long career in film, doing everything from "Planet of the Apes" to "Please Don't Eat My Mother". Octaman himself, limply flopping tentacles and all, is endearing all the way, and represents an early effort for Rick Baker, who designed the costume with Doug Beswick. Essex makes no attempt to reveal the monster a bit at a time, preferring to showcase it every chance he gets. His movie isn't totally without atmosphere and suspense, but it goes on too long and gets too talky. It tends to get boring whenever the monster isn't doing his thing. However, it has undeniable bad movie charm that makes it impossible to truly dislike. And in the tradition of "Bride of the Monster", it's a hoot to see the victims of Octaman have to basically kill themselves while fumbling with the fake arms. A little bit o' gore here and there is an asset, while in one scene one of the most obvious and unconvincing dummies of all time gets tossed off a cliff. This isn't as much fun as one could want, but lovers of so-bad-it's-good cinema should be moderately entertained. Five out of 10.
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