We start onboard the U.S. Navy’s newest atomic submarine, captained by Commander Pete Mathews (Kenneth Tobey). While on maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean the submarine is followed by something unknown, which has been picked up on the submarine’s sonar. Failing to out run it, the submarine is stopped in its tracks by the creature. However, with a bit of fiddling with some gears and pulleys, by what seems to be a crew of about 4 on the atomic submarine, navel cuts even back then, they break free and return to base with some part of the unknown creature still attached.
Enter the scientists of the piece, one Dr. John Carter (Donald Curtis) and we think his girlfriend/partner/assistant/whatever Prof. Lesley Joyce (Faith Domergue), whose job is to find out what this creature is. After many a random documentary style voiceovers, staring at fish in tanks and nodding at each other with farrowed brows, they discover that the creature must be a giant radioactive octopus.
While all this scientific work has been going on, the commander has been putting the moves on Prof. Joyce without Dr. Carter taking a blind bit of notice. This is all very odd, as this all sorts of happens with his consent, all very hip and swinging for the 1950s.
Now that they know what they are dealing with, the octopus, not the wired love triangle, reports of attacks start to come in and we get our first view of the creature itself, when it attacks a tramp steamer off the coast of San Francisco. With the beast now on course for the coast and San Francisco the military get into gear and get ready for a show down. Now the fun starts to happen.
The first attack on San Francisco is that on the Golden Gate Bridge, which is realised wonderfully by Ray Harryhausen, however due to costs the octopus is more of a hextopus (as named by Ray Harryhausen himself) with only 6 legs and took 10 days to film. From there, the octopus then goes onto attack the bay area of the city, with what seems to be the longest single tentacle ever. With men, women and children screaming and running in all directions, builds crumbling and the city in general panic, the beast has to be forced back into the sea. In a cool scene in which flame-throwers are used, the octopus is driven back into the sea where is can be destroyed with the help of both Commander Mathews and Dr. Carter.
With the city safe and the octopus defeated the wired love triangle continues with all three going off for a victory dinner together and looking slightly uncomfortable about it, especially Dr. Carter, oh well the swinging 1960s is only 5 years away.
For me, another good Ray Harryhausen outing of his early work, fun effects and story, apart for the odd love triangle thing. I’m sure I’ll be watching it again.
Kenneth Tobey … Cmdr. Pete Mathews
Faith Domergue … Prof. Lesley Joyce
Donald Curtis … Dr. John Carter
Ian Keith … Adm. Burns
Directed By … Robert Gordon
Columbia booked this as a double bill with Creature with the Atom Brain (1955)
Get The Film