When an atomic-powered submarine runs afoul of something most bizarre on their radar, its Commander Pete Matthews decides not to risk the $ 55 million dollar naval submarine he commands and tries to head out of the area but suddenly the submarine is unable to move while something outside them is emitting radiation. Eventually after a considerable struggle, they do escape and later discover that what had held them down was in fact a giant Octopus!
From scientists Dr. John Carter (Donald Curtis) & Dr. Leslie Joyce (Faith Domergue), working along with the military’s Commander Matthews, we learn that this Octopus has undergone an atomic mutation and has now come to prey on man instead of fish and is all set to ravage the West Coast of America. Eventually it surfaces and attacks the Golden Gate Bridge while San Francisco panics in fear! Can It be stopped?
The real star of this film is Harryhausen’s Giant Octopus, who even with only six tentacles, manages to make a more lasting impression on the viewer than most of the cast. That said, the theme of feminism is also an important undercurrent of this story and I felt Faith Domergue did a wonderful job with what she was given to work with. The moments she coaxes the trans-steamer survivor into admitting it was a giant Octopus that attacked his ship is a great one for her.
While this movie is much too slow getting to its eventual pay-off for most viewers, it’s never bothered me as much because I felt Domergue and Tobey had a great chemistry on screen together and I actually liked the addition of their romance here. Still this has to be one of the first disaster films really considering how a giant Octopus nearly does in San Francisco…and well that’s a cool and fun premise for a movie in my book (even if one does have to swallow one’s disbelief).