This is another fine Ray Harryhausen-effects film, from 1955, and it’s been on our list for quite a while. It’s directed by Robert Gordon, and the creature-effects are pure Harryhausen, and they’re as satisfying as one would hope.
What we’ve got here is an enormous, freak octopus lurking in the depths of the Pacific, roused from its slumber by atomic testing, surfacing to terrorize submarine crews, boats and the city of San Francisco. Navy Commander Pete Matthews and his crew narrowly escape the clutches of the giant creature, and Matthews is then paired up with a couple of professor-types (one is female, and so, following in true 1950’s film fashion, a love triangle must blossom) to figure out what to do about the thing.
The opening scene is really impressive, taking place inside the sub, with the actors and star, Kenneth Tobey as the commander, giving wonderfully natural, understated performances, conveying men going about their work, suppressing panic, and trying to figure out what this thing is that they have encountered. It feels like it was shot in a true sub, not on a set, and the faint bits of upper lip perspiration and the mounting tension help the sense of claustrophobia become more tangible.
The creature is fantastic, and the scenes of tentacles reaching into the streets of San Francisco, wrapping around the Golden Gate Bridge and piers on the Embarcadero are stupidly fun. It’s cheesy enough not to really scare the small kids (um, I think), and fun enough for everyone to enjoy. Our disc, from Netflix, came with a nifty little bio piece on Harryhausen that we all enjoyed.
Oh, and It Came From Beneath The Sea is one of those period pieces that offers up plenty of opportunity to discuss SEXIST BEHAVIOR with your boys.
"K,” I said after one scene that made me scream, “Personal space, personal space!” [Commander Matthews got way too close to the lovely professor Joyce if you ask me], “K,” I said, “You try that at any job and you’ll be immediately fired, if not punched in the nose.”
“Duh,” he said.