Directed by Eugène Lourié [Other horror films: The Colossus of New York (1958), Behemoth the Sea Monster (1959), Gorgo (1961)]
Giant monster movies aren’t really my go-to, even if they are classic. Sure, I enjoyed The Black Scorpion well enough, and Them! is a classic I grew up with, but in general, giant monsters running amok isn’t really my cup of tea, and as decent as this movie is, especially for being one of the earliest movies of it’s genre, I don’t personally know if I consider it that special.
Certainly the special effects are pretty good for the time (the stop motion can look a little janky, but it has it’s charm), and most of the destruction and chaos are fun to watch (such as that cop getting eaten – I could play that on loop for the rest of my life and count myself a lucky man), and I even like how they sort of build things up to the final confrontation, but despite all that, it’s not a movie I’d really find myself in the position to watch often.
Part of it may be the generic cast. Aside from Cecil Kellaway, who I loved pretty much every minute while on screen, the cast just had a been-there-done-that feel to them, and though I guess the main protagonist was interesting in that he was a foreigner (Paul Hubschmid, who was born in Switzerland), he still didn’t jibe with me, nor did anyone else.
More than anything, though, it’s the story here that just makes me pull away. I don’t want to give off the wrong impression, though – the movie’s perfectly fine, and I’ll be giving it a solid average rating. It’s just that it doesn’t amaze me the way I wish it would, and it also doesn’t have near as much an anti-atomic weapon moral that you’d perhaps expect from movies of this time.
No one can doubt that, in it’s own way, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a classic movie, and there are some great scenes (aside from the aforementioned police officer scene, don’t forget that lighthouse being taken down), but it’s not a movie I’ve ever happened to love either time I’ve seen it, for whatever that might be worth.