It Came from Beneath the Sea surprised me in more than one way. All I knew about this film was that Ray Harryhausen did the stop-motion work, which is all I need to know for me to jump on board. What I found surprising was A, this film is dry as shit and two, it has a very good message. Not about the sea beast, but about equality. Sure there’s some sexist shit in here too. But, Faith Domergue plays a strong intelligent woman, who straight up won’t take a mans shit. I’ll talk more about her later. It Came from Beneath the Sea is one of the giant monster films to come out of the 1950’s along with Them!, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Attack of the Crab Monsters to name a few and as an addition to the series it’s good. Just very dry.
It Came from Beneath the Sea opens with the description of a nuclear submarines raw power and warning of what lies beneath the sea. Inside said the sub, Commander Pete Mathews (Kenneth Tobey) come into contact with something in the ocean depths. After freeing his sub, he docks at Pearl Harbor for repairs. During repairs the Navy finds a mysterious… stuff we never actually see and recruits Dr. John Carter (Donald Curtis) and Dr. Lesley Joyce (Faith Domergue) a pair of Marine Biologists to discover what it is. As it turns out it’s a very small portion of a very large octopus. Driven from its home in the Mindanao Deep by becoming slightly radioactive from nuclear testing, alerting its prey forcing it to surface in search of food. After the Sea Beast attacks a French Vessel from which several men survive, the Navy starts to search for the beast in earnest. Dr. Joyce and Commander Mathews go to the coast of Oregon to investigate the three missing people. A local sheriff takes them to the site where they discover strange markings on the beach. Dr. Carter flies in and the local sheriff gets eaten. This leads to a big ta-do, resulting the mining around San Francisco and hanging an electrified net from the Golden Gate Bridge. How they know that the Beast will attack there, but not at any other coastal town between Oregon and San Francisco. Or maybe they just left the those towns to the mercy of the Beast. This results in a battle at the Golden Gate Bridge.
Like I stated I found his film incredibly dry. The pacing was slow, the characters lack chemistry and the film felt unbalanced at times. Even the story feels a little weak, being slow-moving and clumsy. Even a tad ham handed at times, ok you got me, most times.
My favorite part of this beast, isn’t actually the Beast. It’s Faith Domergue character Dr. Joyce. Who I just freaking love. She’s intelligent and lets us know it. She’s attractive and isn’t afraid to use it. Also, she’s willing to call out any guy who wants to tell her what to do. She’s also conflicted about her strong views and her feelings towards Commander Mathews. I find her a very fun character to discuss with friends.
Final thoughts, it should go without saying that the special effects by Ray Harryhausen are simply fantastic. Truly a special effect wizard that is a champion of his chosen art form. Sadly the story is slow and forgettable, coupled with the actors lack of on-screen chemistry makes this a film that was hard to sit through for me. But overall still worth the watch. 7/10