Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

THE GIANT BEHEMOTH


THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (1959). Director: Eugene Lourie.

"And the Lord said: Behold now -- The Behemoth."

Fisherman Tom Trevethan (Henri Vidon) intends to go to town to show off his big catch of white fish to the other villagers. "He'll be as drunk as a Lord," says his daughter Jean (Leigh Madison). But poor Tom doesn't get drunk so much as deep fried by "white hot fire" radiating from something that came out of the sea. "Behemoth!" he intones dramatically before expiring. Steve Karnes (Gene Evans) knows that there's something deadly out there in the ocean, something that absorbed radiation and became mutated. There's a lot of suspense built up over what this strange creature can be, therefore it's a bit of a surprise when it merely turns out to be another revivified dinosaur, an electric "paliosaurus" that can emit deadly radioactive waves that burn people to a crisp. Karnes and Professor Bickford (Andre Morrell) do their best to track down and destroy the creature, but not before it attacks a ferry and then stampedes through London [courtesy of more than acceptable stop-motion effects work by Willis (King Kong) O'Brien.] Jack MacGowran, who played a director in The Exorcist, is Dr. Sampson, a somewhat vague if lovable paleontologist. Edwin Astley's music is a great plus. The movie is sort of thrown together, cheap and tacky, but somehow it's also well-acted, disquieting and effective. Lourie also directed The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Gorgo. NOTE: For more info on this film and many others like it, read Creature Features: Nature Turned Nasty in the Movies.

Verdict: Watch out for those big feet! **1/2.

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