It Came From Beneath The Sea is the kind of giant monster movie I can enjoy mostly guilt free. No appliances glued or stapled onto animals – just good old fashioned, cruelty-free Ray Harryhausen stop-motion. It’s how Willis O’Brian did it – it’s how the movie industry had done, and at that point in the ‘50s it had worked pretty well so far.
The premise is your good ol’ fashioned ‘50s creature feature – atomic testing woke up something big from the depths. The creature is now menacing the world of humanity and must be stopped. In this case, the “something” is a giant octopus, and it’s discovered by the US Navy’s first nuclear attack submarine.
The film also has the twist of “the scientist nobody believes until it’s too late” being a woman, and her claims being dismissed not due to lack of plausibility, but explicitly because of institutional misogyny. It’s still problematic – the scientist, Leslie Joyce (Faith Domeregue) ends up romancing her sexual harasser, but at least the film had the stones to call out institutional misogyny as a systematic issue that is a big problem – demonstrated by it costing lives.
The film’s effects are great – the climactic rampage through San Francisco at the end of the movie is very wonderfully done. It’s not quite at the levels of Godzilla (which hasn’t been made yet), but it does get things across.
Otherwise, the movie is fine – it’s a brisk 74 minutes that doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s a movie that’s enjoyable in its own right and, were it to end up on the new MST3K (or, for that matter, on Rifftrax), it’d also be a very fun watch there.
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