Have you ever been in the mood to just sit down and watch a terrible movie from a bygone era and just laugh at how crappy the film is? Well, I too have that sick fascination and indulge more than I would care to admit.
I was in just such a mood last night when I popped into my machine the classic It Came From Beneath The Sea. This black and white 1955 monster movie had just the kind of terrible title I was looking for. No way, I smugly concluded, can a movie with a title that bad be any damn good.
The first thing that got my attention was in the credits. None other than the great Ray Harryhausen did the special effects. For those not in the know, Ray cut his special effects teeth as an assistant on a little-known film called King Kong and went on to become the grand master of stop-motion animation. So to be clear, the special effects in It Came From Beneath The Sea are very, very good for the time. Sure, you can spot the fake, but you can do that in a lot of modern CGI too. Bottom line; at no time, did the special effects fail to enhance the story.
But let’s talk about the story itself, shall we?
Many of these 1950s monster movies were flat out boring. You’d watch an hour or so of celluloid go by without so much as a moment of suspense or dramatic tension. But It Came From Beneath The Sea starts off with a well-done submarine attack scene and continues to give the viewer regular monster attacks throughout the film. Also, I must say the acting was top drawer, and the three principal characters were very intelligently written.
Shockingly, the film also does a fine job of portraying the liberated woman, as a positive and strong influence on her male colleagues. I know, weird, right? After all, the 1950s were not famous for female emancipation. But at the end of this movie, the heroine declines marriage and offers instead to co-author a book with her love interest on the monster’s biology!
True, the pacing of movies in the 1950s was slower than audiences of today would be accustomed to. And, as much as I can and do praise the film’s feminism, there isn’t a person of color in the whole darn thing. However, if you are ever in the mood for a well made classic monster movie, I do recommend It Came From Beneath The Sea.