Tuesday, March 06, 2007

This is such a strange feeling, I feel as though I'm leaving a world of untold tomorrows for a world of countless yesterdays

There's a bit of math that goes into my movie watching. For example, Giant Monster + Ray Harryhausen > Sleep. Luckily, my movie watching has yet to involve any algebra.

I went on a mission yesterday. I wanted to buy a movie. Actually, I wanted to buy a movie on Saturday, but nobody fucking had it. I, however, remembered seeing it at the Best Buy by work. So, after work, I went to buy my movie. It was a two-pack kind of thing. 2 movies on one disc. The one I wanted was The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, the other movie? Them! Pretty cool, huh? Why they were under "S" I'll never know for sure, but, whatever, I got my movie.

The plan from there was to go home and watch it. Which I kind of accomplished. I did go home, and I did, eventually, watch it. I started off though, by watching one of the special features...Harryhausen & Bradbury: An Unfathomable Friendship. Basically, it's a little sit down with the two of them while they talk, largely, about the movie. It feels like there was more though, and that editing robbed us of something much bigger. I followed that up by watching the trailers included on the disc, not just for the movie itself...

The Black Scorpion

And, The Valley of Gwangi

Sorry, I just wanted to share...

Finally, I got down to business and watched the movie. It begins on Hoth with Operation: Experiment, a nuclear test. Han and Luke are very excited about the nuclear testing and when they go out to get readings, Luke falls into a crevice where he sees a wampa. Meanwhile, Han tries to find and rescue him. Upon finding Luke, Han also sees the wampa. He sets off a flare so that Wedge can find him. Luke, however, is lost forever.

Okay, that's not exactly right. Sorry. Replace the wampa with a Rhedosaurus. replace Wedge with someone less interesting and replace the snow speeder with something on treads. And, replace the nuclear test with a probe droid. They're eerily similar though. Really.

Okay, it was really Tom Nesbitt who survived. The professor of unknown origin. The professor with the unexplained but vaguely foreign accent. And, when the starts talking about seeing a monster, everyone goes all "Tom! You so crazy!" on him. Tom takes his coat and his crazy to go see Dr Thurgood Elson, the world's foremost paleontologist. Dr Elson also thinks that Nesbitt is nutso, but he listens anyways. Elson's assistant, Lee, however, thinks Tom is mostly right in the head. So, she brings over some drawings of dinosaurs and Nesbitt finds one that looks like his monster!

The quest for proof has begun. Nesbitt journeys to that mythical land to north, Canada, to find a sailor who also saw the beast. The sailor agrees to fly to New York with Nesbitt to serve as a glorified extra for 5 minutes and then disappear. We now have 2 men pointing at the same picture, so Elson decides that it is time to call the Army. The Army says "What the fuck do you want me to do? Call the Coast Guard?" and Elson says "Yeah, mother fucker, there's a dinosaur and your lighthouses may be at risk!"

Saddly, the lighthouse dies.

Trick or Treat!

This means that the monster is headed for New York! And when he arrives, he does what all monsters do upon finding themselves in a modern city...he goes on a rampage! Cars are crushed and buildings are destroyed.


The monster goes off to ride the roller coaster, but is apparently deemed to not by "this tall" and destroyed the mechanical beast. This, of course pisses off all of the patrons and Nesbitt decides that the only way to kill it is to use a radioactive isotope (patent pending) to melt his insides. And it does. And the beast dies. The End.


The Beast is a noteworthy movie for what it inspired. It was really the catalyst for countless atomic monster movies in the 50's. It wasn't the first giant monster movie, but it was one of the earliest successful atomic monster movies. Not to mention, this is the movie that inspired Gojira. And while there are some great similarities between The Beast and Gojira is has to be noted that it has much more in common with the American Godzilla. In fact, Godzilla is more of a remake of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms than anything to do with Toho's Godzilla franchise.

The effects are classic Harryhausen, and truth be told, still look pretty good. There is a scene towards the end where the beast picks up a car in it's mouth and it's an unbelievable combination of miniatures, stop motion, and real time camera work. Even the scene where the beast takes a cop in it's mouth in a close up no less looks good.

I liked this movie. I knew I would. I like giant monsters. And I really like movies about them. 8 lighthouses tumbling into the sea out of 10.


Nik! said...

Ohmyshit! A cowboy and dinosaur movie?

Seriusly such a neglected genre. :p

Unknown said...

I totally moved Gwangi to the top of my queue...I must see this movie.