The Beast from 20000 Fathoms
Dir. Eugene Lourie
Starring Paul Hubschmid, Paula Raymond, Cecil Kellaway and LEE VAN CLEEF!
Warner Bros. Pictures
The snowy arctic. There’s a government research station setting off nuclear bombs in the arctic. I’m not sure why they are doing this but it’s the 50s and it’s the government so don’t ask too many questions. Two scientists go out in the snowy hinterlands to measure their scientific instruments…but only one comes back alive! The one that comes back alive, Professor Nesbitt, swears that the creature that attacked the two scientists was a dinosaur. Ok, it’s a gigantic dinosaur that can swim like Michael Phelps. Nobody believes him, of course, but he keeps trying to prove the existence of the beast. In the meantime, the beast attacks a lighthouse and a fishing vessel on its way to New York City, apparently guided by GPS. Eventually, Professor Nesbitt is able to convince another respected scientist of the existence of the beast but… it’s too late. Naturally, Nesbitt also wants to boink the scientist’s female assistant. The giant beast arrives in New York Harbor without enough money for even a hot dog and proceeds to wreak havoc. The army fights it block by block through the streets of Manhattan. Hey, who’s the sharpshooter with the rife? Why it’s Lee Van Cleef! Maybe my favorite spaghetti western actor making an appearance as the guy who finally does the big, bad lizard in. Hey, you knew someone had to.
The stop-motion special effects are interesting. The monster effects in this movie were done by Ray Harryhausen. Though they may look dated to modern eyes, they were state of the art for the time. What’s even more amazing is that supposedly, they were done in camera – the background of the dinosaur would be shot, with the bottom part of the frame covered and then the film would be rolled back, the top now covered, and the bottom portion with the crown reaction was shot. Simple but effective. The movie is dated but entertaining. The effects are dated but important to see if you want to compare and contrast them with movies today.
One note – the story is told that this movie was what inspired the Toho Company of Japan to start making the Godzilla movies. So we have it to thank for that.
A second note – 20000 fathoms is almost 23 miles. No ocean is that deep.
Entertaining – 4, Serious Movie – 4, Camp/Silly/Goofy – 2
Available on Amazon Instant View.