Monday, August 19, 2013

It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) Review:

When World War II ended, the atomic age had begun. Major corporations saw the power nuclear energy could provide, so the industrialization of factories and transportation started with a boom. But along with this, came some nasty side effects thanks to the radiation nuclear energy gave off. So to lightly emphasize the issue and capitalize on the topic, a set of films began to be created. Out of this bunch, was the most popular, Godzilla (1954). But there are others that have credibility to them as well and just aren't recognized for that talent. This is one of them.

Curtis - Tobey - Domergue
After a strange run in with a mysterious ocean creature, an American Sub Commander Pete Matthews (Kenneth Tobey), decides to find out for himself what he possibly ran into. The plot device - after series of nuclear bombing tests in the west Pacific Ocean, the radiation mutated a gentle sea octopus into a human eating, town-destroying monster. So it is obvious that there really isn't much else. The writer, George Worthing Yates did his best with the screenplay. He's also the writer of the classic sci-fi film Them! (1954). But what Yates didn't accomplish here is telling its audience who is with who. Commander Matthews befriends two scientists - Prof. Joyce (Faith Domergue) & Dr. Carter (Donald Curtis).

Both men seem to be attracted to Prof. Joyce but it's never explained to whether who’s dating the girl. Why is it important? Because the topic of romance is touched up on right when the characters meet, so apparently there was a story to be told - it just wasn't evidently told to the audience. Almost like it was swept under the rug. But if that was the case, why bring it up to begin with? There's also the fact of a reporter bringing up a good point on the octopus. He asks if there are anymore and the consensus was that no one knew. Well gee, that's kind of important because I'm pretty sure no one wants to rebuild a city more than once in a year! That's where Mr. Yates fails at his writing. Anything else is acceptable though because it is science fiction, so any explanation can be made to why the octopus became bloodthirsty.

The actors themselves give good shows. Kenneth Tobey was also in The Thing from Another world (1951) and more famously Airplane! (1980). Faith Domergue is good as the female lead, she definitely has the appeal of 1950's actress. Donald Curtis is also another actor who would later play in The Ten Commandments (1956). Its also fairly clear that his film didn't a have a good budget for its time, but for what is put on screen, it's not that bad. I'll admit there are few scenes where it's like someone is standing in front of a green screen but again, that might've been all they had for that scene and it wasn't that often either.

The claymation octopus used for by Harryhausen
Mischa Bakaleinikoff the composer to film's score wasn't bad either. It had all the right tunes for various scenes but it was also not the strongest. It definitely did its job that's for sure. But if there is one thing to really admire with this movie is Ray Harryhausen's master techniques in creature / visual effects. Apparently, the budget was so small, Harryhausen had to cut the octopus' legs down to six, not eight. Quite honestly, he hid that so well, I didn't even notice the difference. The miniature models were also well done too. Anything that has Harryhausen listed in the credits has great quality and that should be one of the main reasons to see this mid 1950's sci-fi monster movie.

It may be lacking in a convincing story and character development, but the actors perform well anyway. The main attraction though, is Ray Harryhausen's clay animation of the enormous octopus.

Points Earned --> 7:10

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