Thursday, June 30, 2011
"This isn't candy -- it's passion." -- Tillie, referring to her weight.
This Italian film inspired by the success of Jaws takes place in an American coastal town where there have been a series of strange disappearances. Eventually bodies turn up that have been stripped not only of flesh but of marrow. Sheriff Robards (Claude Akins) is perplexed as to what could be responsible but reporter Ned Turner (John Huston) wonders if it has something to do with an underwater tunnel being built by a firm owned by Mr. Whitehead (Henry Fonda) of Trojan construction. He also pays a call on an oceanologist named Will Gleason (Bo Hopkins) for answers. Nearly forty minutes into the movie we finally see the octopus -- surprise! -- that's responsible for the carnage, and although it's referred to as a "giant" it never seems that big. The shame about Tentacles is that it has eerie opening scenes [a tragic, well-presented vignette involving a baby snatched off shore in the space of a few seconds stays in the memory] and a certain degree of suspense, but the movie lacks the real panache and knock-out scenes that would give the audience a big pay off. The acting is fine, with top honors going to a still kind of sexy Shelley Winters as Turner's sister, Tillie; whether she's affectionately nagging her brother or worrying what happened to her little boy who is in a sailing regatta [this leads to another sad sequence] she's excellent throughout the movie.
Verdict: Paging It Came from Beneath the Sea. **.