The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
Jack Dietz for Mutual Pictures/Warner Brothers
directed by Eugène Lourié
starring Paul Christian (= Paul Humschmid), Paula Raymond, Cecil Kellaway, Kenneth Tobey, Donald Woods, Lee Van Cleef, Steve Brodie, Ross Elliott, Jack Pennick, Ray Hyke, Michael Fox, Alvin Greenman, Frank Ferguson, King Donovan, Roy Engel, Wivian Mason, Edward Clark, Mary Hill
screenplay by Fred Feiberger, Lou Morheim, Robert Smith, Eugène Lourié, based on the story The Fog Horn by Ray Bradbury, music by David Buttolph, animation effects by Ray Harryhausen
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An atomic test in the Arctic frees a 10 million year old dinosaur from
its icey prison, and as soon as it's out it goes on the prowl ...
Prof Tom (Paul Hubschmid), one of the scientists associated with the
atomic tests, has seen the beast and now wants to warn humankind ... thing
is, he is the only one who has seen it (apart from a dead colleague), and
nobody wants to hear his fantastic story, not even paleontologist Prof
Elson (Cecil Kellaway) for whom this could mean the chance of a lifetime.
Only Elson's attractive assistant Lee (Paula Raymond) shows sympathetic
towards Tom's story, and soon enough the two are able to gather evidence,
evidence that make Elson change his mind ... and after a few ships sink by
unnatural causes and a lighttower is tipped over by whatever, even teh
military seems to be liable to listen to Tom.
Elson goes down to the ocean floor in a diving bell, thinking the beast
might be found there ... but unfortunately he's all too right, and the
beast swallows his diving bell ...
Eventually, the beast emerges, in New York no less, and wreaks havoc to
the city, and of course, bullets and conventional weapons can't stop it
... but then Tom comes up with the idea of shooting the beast with an
anti-nuclear isotope - which actually brings the creature down in the end,
after a memorable showdown in an amusement park.
One of stop motion wizard Ray Harryhausen's first films as the man in
charge of special effects - and his effects are nothing short of great,
featuring an almost flawlessly animated dinosaur destroying a New York
made up from a combination of back projections, blue screen work and
miniatures - nothing short of fantastic.
The rest of the film though is decidedly less-than-fantastic, the whole
human subplot is nothing more than a cheesy melodrama full of clichéd
characters, tired romance and not one unexpected plottwist - and the whole
thing isn't even half as (unintentionally) funny and entertaining as
contemporary similar much cheaper drive-in fare from the independents.
Still, the film is definitely worth a look, if only for its dinosaur