Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Terrifying Tuesdays: It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)

From Gwangipedia

In honor of Cephalopod Awareness Days, the movie of choice for today is "It Came from Beneath the Sea" (1955), one of my favorite Ray Harryhausen films.  A Navy submarine under the charge of Commander Pete Mathews (Kenneth Tobey) encounters an unknown radioactive object, part of which becomes lodged in the submarine.  The vessel heads to Pearl Harbor for repairs, and two scientists, Dr. John Carter (Donald Curtis) and Dr. Lesley Joyce (Faith Domergue), are called in to examine the mysterious object.  After days of investigation, the scientists finally identify the material as part of a giant octopus, normally found only at great oceanic depths but probably forced to the surface to find food by radioactive testing in its habitat.  Navy personnel are skeptical at first, but after another ship is attacked and survivors claim to have seen the creature they decide that further investigation is warranted.

A report of strange events on a beach in Oregon leads to the discovery of the giant octopus' location.  The creature is moving toward San Francisco, and the Navy decides that it must be destroyed.  The area is cleared and mine fields are set in place, but the octopus manages to get through to San Francisco Bay.  It surfaces on the Golden Gate Bridge when an electrical current meant to drive it away enrages it instead.  Dr. Carter manages to turn off the power creating the current but is about to become trapped by the creature until Commander Mathews rescues him just in time.  Later Carter and Mathews must scuba dive to harpoon the beast when it grabs hold of the commander's submarine.  They are successful, but Mathews is knocked out in the process and this time Carter rescues him.  The submarine then torpedoes the giant octopus and destroys it.

A giant octopus, lovely Hawaiian and West Coast settings, a competent woman scientist, a potential romantic triangle, and special effects designed by the great Ray Harryhausen -- what more could one ask for in a science fiction movie?  You can watch a colorized version on YouTube (see below), although I have to admit I prefer the original black and white film.  Either way, this classic is one that must be seen.

Interesting Fact:  The budget for this movie was so tight that Ray Harryhausen was forced to save money by building the octopus with six tentacles instead of eight, and posing the creature so that this lack was not apparent.

Gore Guide (0=none to 5=extreme): 0

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