It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955)

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It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955)

Post  BoG on Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:18 am

It CAME From Beneath the Sea (1955)
This is a classic monster pic from the Golden Age of Sci-fi in the fifties.

After a nuclear submarine on patrol maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean captained by Commander Pete Mathews (Kenneth Tobey) comes into contact with something massive, a man-and-woman team of marine biologists, Lesley Joyce (Faith Domergue) and John Carter (Donald Curtis), is called in and they identify animal tissue in the propellers as part of a gigantic octopus.  The military authorities scoff at this explanation, but are finally persuaded to investigate upon receiving reports of missing bathers and ships pulled under the water by some living thing. The scientists conclude the octopus is from the Mindanao Deep and has been forced out of its natural habitat due to hydrogen bomb testing in the area. The testing has rendered the octopus radioactive, and this radioactivity drives off its natural food supply.
What stayed in my memory after many years were those huge Harryhausen tentacles coming out of the water and, later, bearing down on the streets of Frisco. These were striking images from that era and probably more famous than most from the fifties. It's another sample of atomic age giant monster peril of the fifties, the best of which was "Them" from the previous year. It's never clear that our atomic weapons actually caused this beast, besides just disturbing it from its deep water existence, though they keep referring to it as radioactive (stay away from it - it's radioactive! forget that it can crush an elephant with one tentacle). Like the much later Deep Rising from the late nineties, the implication is that the deeper in the ocean you go, the bigger things are down there; you just gotta hope they never come up. Oh, well.
The movie begins almost like a documentary on our latest submarines in the first minute but soon everything shifts, due to a low budget, to dramatizing things via suggestion: crewmen pretend to be jolted inside the fake interior of the sub, much like the crew on the Star Trek sixties show pretending that their ship has tilted. Even Ray Harryhausen, who became a firm fixture in fantastic cinema after this, was stymied by the budget, unable to show all 8 tentacles. There are slow spots in-between the beast's appearances and the almost-love-triangle of the 3 main characters is typical ham-handed stoic Americana of the '50s - rather hackneyed considering they should all concentrate more on the problem at hand.

I admit I have a soft spot for this since the final 3rd takes place in my old hometown of San Francisco - itself a rare treat for monster fans. The scenes of the Golden Gate Bridge being attacked and then the city itself during the spectacular climax are worth the price of admission. You have to admit - this thing is HUGE.  BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10

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