Fantasy It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)


An Old Friend

Approved | 79 min | Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi | July 1955 (USA)
It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) - IMDb

After an encounter at sea with an unknown underwater creature, a naval commander works with two scientists to identify it. The creature they are dealing with is a giant, radioactive octopus that has left its normal feeding grounds in search of new sources of replenishment. As the creature attacks San Francisco, the Navy tries to trap it at the Golden Gate Bridge but it manages to enter the Bay area leading to a final confrontation with a submarine.

Robert Gordon
George Worthing Yates (screenplay), Harold Jacob Smith (screenplay) (as Hal Smith)
Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domergue, Donald Curtis

This gem would be interesting to see remade but only if it has the love story. I would probably have it be a giant squid instead of an octapus but a squid with an attitude. Peter Benchley did a giant squid movie back in 1996 called The Beast but it was more like a Jaws movie than something like this.



I begged my mother to take me to this one in 1955 when I saw the previews on TV, but she declined. Maybe she thought it would scare a sensitive, intelligent seven-year-old.


Actually, I was just itchin' to see all this death and destruction. On second thought, maybe that was the reason she didn't want to take me.

And I don't think it interested her very much — being a sensitive, intelligent mother who wasn't all that big on death and destruction.


Different strokes for different folks, eh?


Anyway, she told her favorite son no . . . repeatedly. Like I said, I was just seven, so I probably whined a lot about wanting to see it. The previews ran pretty often for about a week, I think.


She did, however, take me to others, like "This Island Earth", "Forbidden Planet", and several later Harryhausen movies at the drive-in with the family. Ah yes, happy days, indeed.



Here's a bit of historical perspective about the movie I yearned to go see, almost sixty years ago.

Two years after Warner Brothers and Ray Harryhausen presented us with the beautifully done "Beast from 20,000 Fathoms", Harryhausen began his long association with Charles H. Schneer and Columbia Studios.

From a purely technical standpoint, this first joint effort is the least worthy of the films they made together. But even a lesser effort by Ray Harryhausen is a hawk among sparrows when it comes to the sci-fi movies of the 1950s.


It Came from Beneath the Sea offers some eye-popping special effects. The scenes of the giant octopus reaching its huge tentacles into the streets of San Francisco are stunning. Harryhausen made each questing tentacles seem like an individual monster. For example, one of the tentacle smashes a second story window, pokes its tip through the opening, and waves back and forth as if it's "looking around" the room.


A squad of soldiers arrive with flame throwers and drive back the huge, snaky invaders. When they burn the questing tentacles, the octopus actually howls in pain! A very clever bit of personification.



Despite the fact that the monster is supposed to be an octopus, budget limitations compelled Ray to use only six tentacles instead of eight. Some sources have reported that their were five. Ray states otherwise in "The Harryhausen Chronicles", which (we hope) is the last word on the subject.




Ray also describes some of the difficulties in making a film like this, such as the fact that the "San Francisco City Fathers" believed the damage depicted to the Golden Gate Bridge suggested that it wasn't very substantial. So they refused to cooperate with the production crew! As a result, the producers were forced to put a camera into a "bakery truck" and drive back and forth across the bridge to get the footage needed for Ray's FX shots.



The cast includes several familiar (and honored) faces from classic science fiction: Kenneth Toby ("The Thing from Another World"), Faith Domergue ("This Island Earth"), and Donald Curtis ("Earth versus the Flying Saucers"), all do a fine job.


Directed by Robert Gordon from a screenplay by George Worthing Yates, who also did "Earth vs the Flying Saucers". The current DVD includes "The Ray Harryhausen Chronicles", as do all of Ray's great movies.


What puzzles me is the strange situation with the posters for this movie. Good grief, how often have we seen magnificent posters created for abysmal movies. I mean, look at this masterpiece . . . for a film that was an insult to the film industry!


And yet here was a low-budget movie with stellar special effects . . . and what kind of poster do we get?




Actually, The Wasp Woman starred the lovely Susan Cabot as an aging woman who uses a special "royal bee jelly" to make herself young.


It worked pretty good too!


. . . except when she turned into a big scary monster.


Perhaps your thinking of The Leech Woman, although that one starred Coleen Gray as an aging woman who uses a formula from an African witch doctor to give herself a youthful makeover. No insects involved in that one.

However, Miss Domergue starred in Cult of the Cobra in 1955, playing a priestess at a Hindu ceremony who could transform herself into a cobra. No insects OR youth serums involved in this movie, but Faith didn't need a youth serum because she was hot and sexy!


Except when she turned into a big scary snake . . .