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It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955, Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domergue)



KENNETH TOBEY is in command of a new nuclear submarine which is almost sunk by a huge unidentified object in the Pacific – an object that then follows the submarine back to its base in San Francisco. Tobey hands over to biologists FAITH DOMERGUE and DONALD CURTIS organic matter which has adhered onto the hull of the submarine. The biologists’ tests finally establish that the tissue is from a giant octopus that normally lives in the ocean depths. They theorise that the creature has become huge and radioactive as a result of underwater atomic tests, with the result that the fish upon which it usually feeds are forewarned of its presence and are so able to escape it. And, desperate for food, the octopus is now seeking fresh menus – with San Francisco and its inhabitants as a possible target.

Elaborate precautions are taken to prevent the octopus from getting into San Francisco Bay – but it does and proceeds to destroy the Golden Gate Bridge and then heads for land leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Flame-throwers are used to drive it back into the water where Tobey destroys it with his submarine and then returns to the arms of Domergue.

It Came from Beneath The Sea is one in a series of enjoyable ’50s monster movies which reflected the pervading fear of atomic radiation by featuring monsters whose genesis was due to nuclear testing. The giant octopus was brought to life by stop-motion expert Ray Harryhausen. In fact, the octopus was a ‘sexapus’. Given the film’s low budget Harryhausen built a two-foot creature with only six arms, working on the sensible principle that audiences would be too interested in what the creature was doing to bother to count the arms. This also resulted in easier animation, although Harryhausen also built a large tentacle to give the illusion of greater mass and detail in the scenes of the destruction of San Francisco.

production details
USA | 79 minutes | 1955

Director: Robert Gordon
Writers: George Worthing Yates, Hal Smith, from a story by Yates

Kenneth Tobey as Cmdr. Pete Mathews
Faith Domergue as Prof. Lesley Joyce
Donald Curtis as Dr. John Carver
Chuck Griffiths as Lt. Griff, USN
Ian Keith as Adm. Burns
Dean Maddox Jr. as Adm. Norman
Harry Lauter as Deputy Bill Nash
Richard W. Peterson as Capt. Stacy