The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

The Beast from 20,000 FathomsThe-beast-from-20000-fathoms-poster
Directed by Eugene Lourie
Written by Lou Morheim and Fred Freiberger from a story by Ray Bradbury
Jack Dietz Productions
First viewing/Netflix rental

Cpl. Stone: If you can load it, I can fire it.

A prehistoric monster devours New York City.  Could this have been the inspiration for Godzilla?

A group of scientists conducts an atom bomb test somewhere in the Arctic.  When a pair of them investigate the site they are attacked by the monster that has been awakened by the blast.  Prof. Tom Nesbitt survives but can get no one to believe his story.  Then ships begin mysteriously and suddenly sinking in the North Atlantic.

Nesbitt is moved to consult world-reknowned paleontologist Prof. Thurgood Ellison (Cecil Kellaway).  Ellison is finally convinced when both Nesbitt and a survivor of a sinking independently identify the same drawing as their monster.

Beast from 20000 Fathoms

The monster appears to be moving underwater to New York where it was spawned back at the dawn of time.  Ellison investigates in a diving bell.  Before confronting the monster, he witnesses a gratuitous shark v. octopus battle.  But nothing can stop the inexorable progress of the monster to New York.  Furthermore, the beast seems to be carrying an incurable fatal virus from the past.  With Lee Van Cleef as a sharp shooter.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)1

This looks mighty like a low-budget version of Godzilla and is almost as much fun.  A key difference is that this version of the creature is animated with stop-motion and Godzilla is played by a man in a rubber suit.  Both are about equally effective.  This was Ray Harryhausen’s first solo effort as a special effects man.  He would go on to bigger and better things.


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