It Came from Beneath the Sea Robert Gordon

It Came from Beneath the Sea Robert Gordon
The octopus in this early Ray Harryhausen effort is very impressive indeed. On a budget and without a net, the FX master managed to inject a surprising amount of menace and personality into his cephalopod gone bad, as well as a delightfully tactile sliminess that wasn’t phoned in. And it’s a good thing, because it’s only on screen for 20 minutes in an otherwise interminable movie. Predictably, the octopus has been mutated thanks to nuclear whatsits, meaning Naval Captain Pete Matthews (Kenneth Tobey) must test his manhood against female scientist Lesley Joyce (Faith Domergue) in the hopes of stopping the menace. You’d think they didn’t know what we came for: the movie is wall-to-wall dialogue, all of it bad, rendered as listlessly as possible by a cast clearly wishing they were somewhere else. Camp fanciers may have a field day with this (and the antiquated sexual mores) but it mostly had me climbing the walls. All of this came prior to Harryhausen’s rise to glory and if you are into effects, this is probably essential to understanding his oeuvre. But to anyone interested in watching the rest of the movie, move along, there’s nothing to see here. While the film is offered in B&W and colorised versions, there are some choice extras gracing the two disc edition, including a detailed commentary with Harryhausen and some of his collaborators, an interesting featurette with the artist reminiscing alongside others, a rambling but revelatory conversation between himself and Tim Burton, and a fascinating digression into the world of B film scores that’s worth the rental alone. Rounding things out are a feeble clip with a NYU student explaining stop-motion, still and poster galleries, and a digital preview for the tacky-looking comic book It Came from Beneath the Sea… Again! (Sony)