Robert Gordon directed a little more than the average creature feature from screenwriters George Worthing Yates and Hal Smith, because not only feature the talents of Ray Harryhausen’s special effects, but that it gives Faith Domergue’s role as an independent professor (more on this later). Yates truly understood the new dimension of horror with creatures reaching enormous overgrown sizes, from Them! (1954) to later creating The Spider (1958) using a tone of seriousness mixed with campy consequences. Initially released by Columbia Pictures as double-billed with Creature with the Atomic Brain and then getting a Blu-ray release on Mill Creek Entertainment in 2014, however the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2-Disc DVD by many fans’ opinions prefer ideal film, as it contains the film in both original and colorized versions.
The movie opens on a submarine (shot in a real one) captained by Tobey’s character, U.S. Navy Commander Pete Matthews, you might recall is his role as captain in the Air Force in the 1951 sci-fi classic The Thing from Another World (1951). The storyline itself shows that in the beginning nuclear testing has affected a large octopus referred to in the film as “It”. However, the characters make the concept seem very plausible, regardless of how outrageously ill-conceived the set-up presents itself. Harryhausen saved money by making the creature only with 6-legs than the correct amount of eight and worked to position the beast not showing the problem. The other male lead Donald Curtis as Professor Lesley Joyce, a strong rugged type thinks Indiana Jones, but leans on the female lead for support. As mentioned earlier Faith Domergue’s role Professor Lesley Joyce, one the leaders in her field of marine studies and her colleague Dr. John Carter mentions she’s a new breed, independent, capable, smart and will hold her ground against anyone, hence very early feminism and standing against sexism, not something normal in the 1950s and especially the horror genre. This doesn’t mean it’s without the silly romance story, more of a triangle involving the two male leads. Overall a good storyline of what lies under the depths known to the human race, especially noting two incredible aspect octopus likely the smart creature and explore so little (perhaps 5%) of the depths of the across the oceans, who’s what lives in the darkness of the deep blue. The usage of narration (a device to sometimes sets tone or warning, as in Friday the 13th franchise), however within this movie, presents itself more comical as it used either to explain something technical or to assist in a transition scene.
This a standard 78-minute, black-and-white, 1955 classic, with most of the scenes completed in one take, and used Harryhauisen’s cheap toy store ship for the one the Octopus beast sinks; however his special effects went much further than that mere tease. The creature found itself in the same subgenre as Godzilla and Gorgo, as beasts change massively due to the nuclear testing, which make the film very interesting and entertainment especially the Golden Gate Bridge mock-up attack some of Ray’s finest work.
Creature features hold a special place for many horror fans, from the classics to the new creations, the unknown species, more than mere urban legend cryptozoology of the Yeti or Bigfoot or even Nessie. The taking of the real ones and making them more vicious heightens our frights when we enter to the real world from the safety of our couches, and yes the movie doesn’t give the same shrieks and thrills of mid-50s, it still thoroughly entertains, especially since the horror genre doesn’t return to ‘giant octopus’ until Tentacles (1977).
- IT CRUSHES! KILLS! DESTROYS! (original print ad – all caps)
- Havoc! Chaos! Destruction!
- Can IT Be Stopped?
- Out of primordial depths to destroy the world!
Baron’s Rating: 6.0/10