Director: Robert Gordon
Writers: George Worthing Yates and Hal Smith
Cast: Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domergue, Donald Curtis, Ian Keith, Dean Maddox Jr., Chuck Griffiths, Harry Lauter, and Richard W. Peterson
Composer: Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Release Date: 7/1955
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
After encountering a mysterious underwater organism, Commander Pete Matthews (Kenneth Tobey) of the U.S. Navy collaborates with Professor Lesley Joyce (Faith Domergue) and Dr. John Carter (Donald Curtis) in order to identify the creature. Upon further investigation, Dr. Carter and Prof. Joyce determine that a giant, radioactive octopus—now heading for the San Francisco Bay area—is responsible for the attack on Cmdr. Matthews’ submarine.
The quintessential killer octopus offering, It Came from the Beneath Sea should be commended for showcasing likable, sympathetic characters in a sci-fi/disaster-themed setting. Kaiju enthusiasts will therefore enjoy this film, especially when viewed in a double-feature with The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
Though filmed over sixty years ago, the creature effects in It Came from Beneath the Sea remain compelling for one important reason: during and immediately prior to the film’s climax, models of real-world structures (e.g. the Embarcadero and the Golden Gate Bridge) are demolished during the giant octopus rampage, adding a hint of credibility to the (otherwise somewhat dated and unconvincing) stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen.
It Came from Beneath the Sea benefits from a complex love triangle involving all three protagonists—an aspect that encourages the viewer to invest in the climactic scene, during which Cmdr. Matthews and Dr. Carter, both implied to have feelings for the same woman, must rely on each other while confronting the giant octopus. By emphasizing character development and romantic subplots at the expense of terrifying monster action, however, the first two acts of this film fail to generate the suspenseful, engaging atmosphere that one would typically associate with a well-made creature feature.
Driven from its natural habitat by the detonation of a hydrogen bomb, the giant octopus in It Came from Beneath the Sea serves as a metaphor, albeit a rather obvious one, regarding the environmental consequences of nuclear testing—similar to Godzilla, the Rhedosaurus, and nearly every giant monster conceived during the Atomic Age.
Barring minor scientific inaccuracies, It Came from Beneath the Sea earns its reputation as the greatest and most iconic giant octopus movie of all time. Thus, for classic monster buffs and fans of the sci-fi/horror crossover genre, this production should be requisite viewing.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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