I am going to go ahead and call today a win as far as movie watching goes. See, today I get to watch a Ray Harryhausen movie. A lot of my favorite giant monster movies, that did not involve Godzilla, utilized Ray Harryhausen’s special effects in their movies. His work in stop motion animation was some of the best and quite possibly surpassed his mentor, Willis O’Brien. If you haven’t been able to figure it out, I am a fan of Harryhausen and have almost every one of the movies in which he worked on the effects. Anyways, let’s get right into today’s movie, It Came From Beneath The Sea.
The plot: A new nuclear submarine, captained by Commander Pete Mathews is practicing maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean when a strange sonar contact is detected behind them. After repeatedly trying to lose the strange contact, the sub is suddenly struck and unable to move while radiation is detected outside the sub. The sub manages to start moving, and when they expect the sub, they find some strange animal matter wedged into the sub’s dive plates. The sample is taken to a nearby lab, where marine biologists John Carter and Lesley Joyce manage to identify the tissue as coming from a giant octopus, that has been driven from the Mindanao Deep by hydrogen bomb tests, resulting in the creature becoming radioactive. The authorities don’t believe the scientists at first but when reports come in of missing swimmers and ships being pulled by a large animal, they are forced to accept the report. The survivors of one of the ships are being questioned by doctors and the first sailor tells them that a giant octopus attacked the ship but the doctors don’t believe him. Lesley talks to the sailor and gets him to repeat his story, which causes the listening naval leaders to halt all sea traffic in the Pacific while they attempt to find the creature. John heads off to investigate a missing ship off of Canada while Pete and Lesley investigate the disappearance of a family in Oregon. When they get to Oregon, Pete and Lesley find evidence that the octopus had been there and contact John but as John arrives, the octopus appears and kills the local sheriff but Pete, Lesley, and John manage to escape. The Navy sets up headquarters in San Francisco then begins mining the harbor, as well as using an electrified net to block the harbor entrance, in order to try and prevent the creature from attacking the city. However the creature breaks through the net and begins to attack the Golden Gate Bridge, tearing down part of the bridge. As the giant octopus continues attacking people and buildings along the edge of the harbor, the army uses flamethrowers to drive the creature back out to the ocean, where Pete and John, inside Pete’s submarine, plan to fire a special torpedo at the creature and hopefully kill it. After they fire the torpedo, the submarine is grabbed by the giant octopus. Pete uses diving gear to swim out an plant explosive charges on the creature to try and free the sub, but is struck by one of the tentacles and knocked unconscious. John heads out and shoots the octopus in the eye, causing it to release the sub. As John gets Pete to safety, the sub detonates the torpedo, destroying the giant creature for good.
This movie is one of my favorite low budget movies. The acting was pretty decent between the three leads and I think Faith Domergue did a great job playing her part as the “new breed of woman in a male dominated world”. The plot was pretty basic and while I thought the secondary semi-love triangle between Pete, John, and Lesley was somewhat entertaining, it really didn’t add much to the story. But let’s face it, this was all about the visual effects. Harryhausen’s octopus was fantastic, in spite of the budget cuts that he was forced to work with. As a result of those cuts, the octopus only had 6 tentacles instead of the normal 8. A classic sci-fi movie that is well worth watching.
Rating: 4 out of 5