I've officially seen all of the Harryhausen films that I care to see. It Came From Beneath the Sea was the last one on my list. I've been putting it off because I've never been particularly enthused by "giant octopus" movies. The main reason why I'm not razzle-dazzled by oversized cephalopods can be summed up in two words - The Beast. Yes, I'm talking about the made-for-TV Peter Benchley adaptation. It bored me senseless as a child, and ever since, I've associated octopi with humdrum tedium. But The Beast didn't utilize stop-motion effects courtesy of Ray Harryhausen, now did it?
This flick does, although we don't get to see the full-blown creature until the last ten minutes. The build-up is more gratifying than I was expecting. We spend most of the first act in a claustrophobic environment with the captain of a submarine as he tries to nose out the source of a disturbance on his sonar system. Before his crew can figure out what's happening, the sub is jostled by an unseen force. Of course, we later discover that the unseen force was a giant octopus, a colossal monster dog-paddling and breast-stroking its way through the Pacific. The "it" that comes from beneath the sea looks fantastic, and it interacts with all of the model sets with great celerity and pliability.
The second act drags a bit, but the pace is chiefly well-managed. I really liked Faith Domergue as the scientist hired to identify a hunk of octo-flesh. With the exception of one scene where her character screams her head off, she's written as a strong, independent heroine. You don't see that a lot in b-movies from the 50's. Overall, I would definitely recommend It Came From Beneath the Sea, but it doesn't compare to The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms or Jason and the Argonauts. Just saying.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:44 AM