Tentacles (1977 Italy)

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Tentacles (1977 Italy)

Post  BoG on Mon Dec 08, 2014 1:40 am

I think this one is the one about a killer octopus - it's hard to say based on the first act: in a seaside town, persons near the water are suddenly disappearing. First to go is a baby in a carriage; the mother leaves her kid to talk to a friend across the street and of course the baby suddenly vanishes, the carriage in the water. Next is a guy with a peg leg on a boat; his buddy hears a sound, like a splash, and the guy is gone. Then what's left of the bodies are found. The key to these scenes is that the filmmakers do not need to show the creature; we do glimpse its p.o.v. from the water briefly, but that's all. It doesn't clarify matters even later when the reporter on the case calls it a giant squid... so, I'm not too sure - but usually it's spoken of as an octopus.
John Huston - more famous as a director - stars as the local reporter, and Shelley Winters is his sister; both are about 20 years too old for their roles (Winters has a little boy; Huston should be retired). Claude Akins is the local top cop who doesn't need all this aggravation. Bo Hopkins has the heroic role of the ocean expert who pals around with a couple of killer whales - these play an important part in the film's final act. Henry Fonda pops up in cameo talking on the phone - I'm not sure what his role was all about but he seemed to be an important bigwig of some sort, trying to cover his backside. All these screen veterans give their usual professional performances but the good stuff stops there. The direction is limp and uninspired. Getting back to the earliest scenes - when the mom sees that her baby is gone she calls her name as if she's just slightly worried. It's a sign of how the rest of the film proceeds, sort of half-asleep and in slow motion.

This pic capitalized on both Jaws and the eco-terror trend of the seventies and I think it did make decent money because its timing was good, but audiences were cheated severely by this one. Wow, is it slow..! For the plot, it's soon mentioned that the attacks have something to do with radios - it seems that a certain frequency drives the octopus crazy.  There's one admittedly unusual scene when the creature attacks a boat with Hopkins' wife on board - and this galvanizes the hero later though he still acts half-asleep - but the boat is so obviously a small model that it takes one out of the picture. The music score is way inappropriate, a playful little tune more suited for light comedy or an amusing caper picture. Also, though it supposedly takes place in a California town, they were unable to hide the Italian accents for most of the residents (the exceptions being the big stars). BoG's Score: 2.5 out of 10
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