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.

Join us before the film as Professor LaBarbera discusses the biological implications of really big and really small B-movie creatures, focusing on the massive cephalopod in It Came from Beneath the Sea, one of his all-time favorite B’s.

About the Speaker

Michael LaBarbera teaches biology and biomechanics at the University of Chicago, where he is a professor in the Department of Organismal Biology & Anatomy and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an Associate Editor of The Biological Bulletin, and served on the Board of Reviewing Editors of Science for 11 years. Professor LaBarbera has published on everything from the biomechanics of marine invertebrates to why animals don't have wheels to the aerodynamics of flying snakes. He has lectured to non-scientist/general public audiences in over 30 U.S. cities and has appeared on many radio and television shows.