FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955)
It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955)
Actors: Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domergue, Donald Curtis, Ian Keith,
Dean Maddox Jr.
Directors: Robert Gordon
Format: AC-3, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dolby, Dubbed,
DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Sony Pictures
DVD Release Date: January 15, 2008
Run Time: 79 minutes
It Came From Beneath the Sea was the first collaboration between special
effects wizard Ray Harryhausen and producer Charles H. Schneer. Directed by
Robert Gordon (Tarzan and The Jungle Boy), the newly colorized film,
depicting a giant octopus attacking San Francisco, stars Kenneth Tobey (The
Thing From Another World), Faith Domergue (This Island Earth), Donald Curtis
(Earth vs. The Flying Saucers) and Ian Keith (The Ten Commandments).
Although it is ostensibly about a giant stop-motion octopus attacking San
Francisco bridge, most of It Came From Beneath the Sea's running time
is concerned with an oily submarine captain (played by
The Thing from Another World's Kenneth Tobey)
hitting on an attractive female co-worker. Their "romance" plays out more
like a sexual harassment case than anything else. Then again, this is the
navy (can you say Tailhook '91?) and this is the
1950's, so this sort of thing was probably expected - nay demanded - of
anyone wearing a naval uniform at the time.
Seriously though, the "love triangle" at the heart of It Came From
Beneath the Sea not only comes across as icky to modern sensibilities,
but is plain dull. It drags the movie down much like the giant octopus at
point drags a giant ship down to the bottom of the sea. The film is
incidentally the first collaboration between stop-motion sfx legend Ray
Harryhausen and his regular producer from there on, Charles H. Schneer.
Harryhausen's effects are okay for the era, but obviously badly dated now.
The octopus monster also lacks spark, something which is strange for a
Harryhausen character. The only interesting thing about it is the fact that
it only has six tentacles and not eight. In one of the featurettes
Harryhausen admits that animating eight tentacles would have been too
difficult. To be honest, one doesn't notice it whilst watching the film.
The colorization here is probably the best of all the recent Harryhausen
flicks to be colorized by Sony for their new re-releases. (The other two
titles are Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and
20 Million Miles to Earth.)
THE DISCS: Some of the special features found on this disc can also
be found on the other two recent Harryhausen re-releases mentioned above.
Thankfully they are kept to a minimum so you won't feel that cheated if you
have purchased the other two. Interesting here is a talk by David Schecter
on the music used in the film. Cheap B-movies such as this didn't warrant
their own orchestral scores being composed, so they just reused bits and
pieces from various other films
music in effect. In fact musical supervisor Mischa Bakaleinikoff was so
enamored of a four-note piece he wrote that he re-used it over and over
again in several flicks including this one and
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and 20 Million Miles to Earth.
Harryhausen fans would want to check this one out. The colorization is
really nice and the special features quite decent. Pity about the movie
itself which is a plodding bore.