It Came from Beneath the Sea

Monday, November 12
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1hr 19mins // directed by:Robert Gordon // featuring:Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domergue and Donald Curtis

A gigantic (albeit six-armed) octopus from the greatest depths of the sea is galvanized into action when radiation from H-bomb testing in the Pacific affects its normal feeding habits.

An atomic submarine captain (Kenneth Tobey) teams with a pair of scientists (Faith Domergue, Donald Curtis) to stop the monster before it terrorizes major coastal cities. But after snacking on a couple of freighters and scooping up some tasty landlubbers from a beach, the enraged ‘pus manages to make it way to San Francisco. In famous set pieces, the sea beast demolishes the Golden Gate Bridge and the Ferry Building, thwacks a helicopter out of the sky, and sweeps an enormous tentacle through Market Street, before a final showdown.

With fantastic stop-motion animation by special effects master Ray Harryhausen (Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Clash of the Titans), this hoot of a sci-fi adventure (complete with a romantic triangle) is a classic of the Golden Age of monster movies, and rarely shown in 35mm on the big screen.

University of Chicago biologist Michael LaBarbera is a big fan of vintage monster flicks, especially those from the ‘50s. In his published paper “The Biology of B-Movie Monsters,” he explores the realities of movie-creature anatomy, including the limits of King Kong’s and the 50 Foot Woman’s bone structure, why a real-life Mothra would have breathing problems, and how the Incredible Shrinking Man would need to eat his own weight daily just to survive.