In the 1950s and 60s, there were practically zillions of giant radioactive monster films. Giant shrews, ants, spiders, dinosaurs and whatnot scared audiences and were immensely popular throughout the world. For example, THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953) clearly led to Japanese films such as Godzilla (1954) and its many spin-offs. In general, these films were super-cheesy–having pretty second-rate special effects (even for the time) and lousy dialog. Godzilla was a guy in a reptile suit, TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE used a lobster and THE KILLER SHREWS used hairy costumes placed on dogs–all very high on the “cheese-o-meter”. However, a very small number of these films did have decent special effects for the time period and tried to be serious entertainment–and IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA is one of them.
Unlike many giant monster films, IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA looked like it had a larger budget. Much of this was because they had the cooperation of the navy and because they used GOOD stock footage–not the usual grainy and irrelevant filler used in many of these films. It also looked big budget because of the work of Ray Harryhausen. Now, in the 21st century, his work appears rather crude and old fashioned, but for the mid-1950s it was state of the art and still holds up reasonably well if you aren’t an idiot who expects CG and state of the art effects. Sure, the giant octopus looks a bit odd and is obviously controlled through stop-motion, but it is very well integrated into the scenes and still impresses. It’s obvious that they really cared and wanted to make a quality picture.
As far as the romance and dialog goes, I will admit it has a lot of clichés–such as the brainy but sexy female scientist. However, it was handled a bit better than usual and at least Faith Domergue (a perennial in 50s sci-fi) was pleasant looking. I know it’s weird, but I really get turned on by the “brainy scientists” in these film. In fact, I married one myself–though she has no experience, so far, with giant monsters! Don’t worry folks–I showed this review to my wife and I am NOT in the dog house!
For lovers of the genre, this film is a must. For those who think giant monsters attacking mankind are stupid, then at least one is better than most of the rest!!