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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Movies  |  Good Movies  |  Behemoth: The Sea Monster (1959) « previous next »
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Author Topic: Behemoth: The Sea Monster (1959)  (Read 546 times)
akiratubo
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« on: April 13, 2012, 09:47:37 PM »

A Scottish fisherman turns up dead from mysterious radiation burns.  An scientist from the UK's version of the NRC, plus an American colleague who just happened to be visiting at the time, visit the site of the fisherman's death.  They find no conclusive evidence of anything.  Just to play it safe, they put out a call to all nearby ports for seawater and samples of fish to test for radiation.  The tests indeed turn up a few severely irradiated fish.  The American scientist travels to the area where the fish came from.  Hearing stories from the local fisherman of a "light under the water", he heads out to look for it.  He indeed finds it, and what is causing the light comes as quite a shock ... a giant monster!

Behemoth: The Sea Monster isn't for everyone.  It isn't the movie you'd expect based on the title.  Rather, it's more akin to a medical mystery where the pathogen turns out to be a giant monster.  The first half of the movie is taken up by the scientists' utterly sensible investigation of the Scottish fisherman's death, followed by their utterly sensible investigation into the source of the mysterious radiation contaminating the local fish stocks.  Their methods are both practical and reflect what real-life scientists of the time would actually have done.  If not for the title, the average viewer probably wouldn't even expect a monster to show up at all.  However, the movie is called Behemoth: The Sea Monster, so most people would probably get bored and either fast-forward or just turn the thing off altogether.  Myself, I loved every second of professional scientists doing their jobs in a realistic manner.  I've certainly never seen another monster movie so determined to "get it right".  I won't say this very often, but I think the choice to keep the monster completely off-screen for more than half the movie was a good one.  In most of these movies, the monster is front and center pretty early on, so we get impatient with the white-coats wasting twenty or thirty minutes figuring out what we knew in the first scene.  Here, though, there's not the slightest indication that this will be a monster movie at all (if not for the title), so that frustration and annoyance doesn't manifest to a strong degree.

When the monster does show up, its rampage through London is quite nicely, if economically, done.  (Oh my god!  Could this be the very first killer animal movie to have its monster wreck a helicopter?)  The only thing that doesn't quite measure up is the depiction of the monster's agony.  Another thing that sets this movie apart from most atomic animal flicks is that the behemoth is dying of its radioactivity.  The scientists muse about how its tremendous pain must be the reason why it has gone on the rampage in the first place.  Well, that doesn't come through in the stop motion animation.  The monster looks pretty hale and hearty to me!  To be fair, the animation might have been commissioned and completed before the script was done.  Behemoth certainly wouldn't be the first or only movie ever made to have a script written around pre-existing special effects sequences.

All in all, this is a movie for very patient viewers who enjoy a movie with some thought put into it.

As an aside, I like to pretend that the behemoth is actually the brontosaurus that Professor Challenger brought back to London in the 1925 version of The Lost World, only older, meaner, and super-powered after a big dose of radiation.
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Andrew
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2012, 08:40:37 AM »

It has been years since I watched this flick, and the kids love monster movies, so I might have to show it to them soon.  The scientists investigating the cause of the radiation did not bore me either.  Nor did it feel like padding.  It was a buildup to the revealing of the creature and then its rampage. 

Older monster movies normally did not show the monster until much later in the film.  We'd see footprints, scales, teeth, slime, destroyed buildings or other teasers such as hearing it roar in the distance.  Then, around halfway through the film we'd get a peek.  I like that about the classic monster movies.

Been watching a lot of SyFy monster movies, (and films that feel like SyFy monster movies) lately.  They all show the monster too early.  It's something I complain about in the "Sea Beast" review I just finished the first draft of.  The other night we watched "Dinocroc vs. Supergator" and we see both monsters in the first five minutes.  Granted, they were going for more of a crazy action film with that, but "Sea Beast" could have benefited from hiding the monster for a while.

Back to "Behemoth", I liked the rampage through London as well.  They did use artistic license to show that the creature's radioactivity became worse when it was under attack.  The swirly radioactivity effect when it kills the troops is ridiculous.  Wasn't there an explanation that it used electricity to focus the radioactivity?  I remember that point, and that it was hard to believe - even in a fantastic monster flick.

There is a close encounter between a tyrannosaurus and a helicopter in "The Land Unknown", but the helicopter survives. 

"Behemoth:  The Sea Monster", "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms", and "Gorgo" make for a fun triple feature. 
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2012, 09:00:38 AM »

Now this is one I haven't seen, as far as I can recall, and from the sounds of it I should make an effort to see it.

It depends on the movie if not bringing the creature in till half way through works. If there is a story to be told, like the scientists trying to figure out what is killing off fish, then it works, and it can also make up for a deficient costume or animation if you don't make it front and center.

On the other hand, where you have creature movies like Andrew mentioned, yes...I mean The Asylum, you might as well throw everything at the screen from the get go; keep in mind that I like quite a few The Asylum movies, but they are primarily for when I want to kill time with watching a movie. I guess it's like the difference between drive-ins and walk-ins; when you go to a walk-in you are going to take in the whole experience that is the movie, sound and everything, but you go to a drive-in to have fun and watch a bunch of cheap movies that won't matter if you missed 10 minutes of it while going to the snackbar because there's not enough of a plot to make that big of a difference.
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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2012, 12:32:41 PM »

     This was always one of my favorites; Ghoulardi showed it three times. The thing that got to me as a kid was that doll floating on the Thames, after the monster sinks the ferry.
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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2012, 04:45:57 PM »



"Behemoth:  The Sea Monster", "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms", and "Gorgo" make for a fun triple feature. 

Weren't those three all produced/written by the same person? I remember a story where the writer said he made Gorgo because one of his children hated that the Rhedesaurus and the Paeleosaurus (the titular Behemoth) both died at the end.

The stop-motion was done by Willis O'Brien-sort of. According to wikiepedia, the work was subcontracted to O'brien who had his assistant Peterson do much of it. And this was one of O'Brein's last movies.

My favorite sequence is near the end where the monster and a sub are seen swimming in the River. I don't recall a lot of giant monster movies that actually showed the monster swimming. They either sort of walked underwater, or just appeared out of it.  Actually seeing the monster swim like a sea snake was a really nice touch.
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« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2012, 08:02:26 PM »



"Behemoth:  The Sea Monster", "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms", and "Gorgo" make for a fun triple feature. 

Weren't those three all produced/written by the same person? I remember a story where the writer said he made Gorgo because one of his children hated that the Rhedesaurus and the Paeleosaurus (the titular Behemoth) both died at the end.

One of the directors and one of the writers worked on all three movies.  "The Giant Behemoth" had 2 directors credited and 4 writers credited.
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