Giant Behemoth, The (1959)

“The ocean is my province, gentlemen, but how little we know about it. We only touch the surface with our lines and our dragnets, our diving suits and bathyscapes. For all we know, what we have started may have already matured… And who can tell when this — this — whatever it is, will rise to the surface and strike back at us?”

Synopsis:
Several scientists (Gene Evans, Andre Morell, and Jack MacGowran) investigate the presence of a deadly atomic creature roaming the coast of Cornwall.

Genres:

Review:
This rehash of director Eugene Lourie’s earlier mutant monster flick The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) is an atmospherically filmed but narratively dull tale of radioactive dangers along the coast of Cornwall. Potential romantic interest between a hunky scientist (Morell) and the beautiful daughter (Leigh Madison) of a fisherman (Henri Vidon) who was the Behemoth’s first casualty goes nowhere, essentially vanishing by the second half of the story. The film’s settings are its primary redeeming asset, with gorgeous cinematography of rocky shores — but otherwise, there’s little here to distinguish this from other monsters-on-the-rampage flicks. This film is primarily of note for featuring direction by stop-motion guru Willis O’Brien — best known for his work on The Lost World (1925), King Kong (1933), and Mighty Joe Young (1949).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine use of authentic sets in Cornwall

  • Ken Hodges’ b&w cinematography

  • Edwin Astley’s at times creative score

Must See?
No, though fans of the genre will probably want to check it out once.

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One Response to “Giant Behemoth, The (1959)”

  1. First viewing. A once-must for sci-fi / horror fans.

    To begin with, I can safely say I was wrapped up in this much more than the very talky ‘Beast from 20,000 Fathoms’. In fact, for a film of its Godzilla-imitator type, I found it relatively compelling (and economic). I was particularly struck by the approach set in place by the British tone – the often-calm reserve (of those in charge) mixed with the determination to “find this creature and dispose of it.”

    I rather liked Evans’ very natural and steady control in the lead. Also of note in the cast is MacGowran, a somewhat-brief appearance but energetic as the paleontologist. (Eight years later, Polanski would give him possibly his best role when he cast him as the lead in ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’.)

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