Friday, January 28, 2011

Film #53: The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

The Statue of Liberty is such a slut.

Just look at her, standing there all sultry like with her pursed lips and painted on dress.

No wonder this harlot keeps attracting so many destructive monsters to New York City.

Bad girls pick up bad men, who in turn do bad things to impress them… like destroy the country's biggest city.

Once again, Liberty’s loose ways leads to disaster in this week’s flick, “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.”

The US Army is up to their old tricks again in the Arctic Circle, conducting non-descript experiments with nuclear weapons. But after firing off a Jap-Zapper on a huge hunk of ice, the blast de-ices an enormous prehistoric dinosaur that's been frozen underneath (20,000 fathoms underneath, to be exact) the ice for 100 million years. Like any man awakened from a long nap, Dino comes out pissed and hungry!

Scientist Tom Nesbitt, exploring the nuked area, sees the Dino-Beast but isn’t believed by his superiors, including leading state-side paleontologist Thurgood Elson. Not believed, that is, until reports of the beast heading down the North American Atlantic Coast start to appear.

Seems the “Sea Serpent” has been treating ships that cross his path like a box of sardines. He peels away the lid and snacks down on some man-meat.

Nesbitt doesn’t have to convince Elson’s lovely assistant Lee, who immediately sides with the handsome Tom and his crackhead theories of atomic freed dinosaurs. Ah, what looks will do to a gal.

Finally, the army believes Tom’s stories and begins to make preparations in case the dinosaur decides to vacation in the US.
Plotting out the Beast’s path of destruction, the Army determines the monster is headed right for…gasp!... New York City!

You know what happens next. One glimpse at that aforementioned independent whore standing at NYC’s waterway entrance sends the Beast into a horny, destructive frenzy.

Can the US Army stop the Dino from massacring Manhattan? Will Tom Nesbitt and Lee sustain a relationship based on dinosaurs? Who hasn’t crawled up inside Lady Liberty?
Find out, in the 1953 atomic-age classic, “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 2.1
Chris Dimick roars:
“Ice cream is delicious. In fact, given the right circumstances – long day, hot apartment, raging Man-struation – I might just kill a man for a frosty pint of Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream. But as the saying goes, if I ate ice cream every night, I’d probably get sick of it.

Such is the case with The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms plot. I’ve ingested too many atomic-bomb-unleashes-giant-beast-on-NYC movies to enjoy the experience when another one slides down my movie-hole. It is just so tired.

To be fair, Beast is the first of the atomic-age creature features, and actually was the inspiration for the Japanese knock off Godzilla (at least according to IMDB). This knocked the picture up .6 points in my book… you have to respect original originality.

The other 1.5 points comes from the beautiful effects created by FX master Ray Harryhausen (seen below), who would go on to become a legend in Hollywood for his work on films like Jason and the Argonauts, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and 20 Million Miles to Earth. Even today, and in a borrrrrrrrrrrrrrring movie, Harryhausen enchants with his monsters and models.

True, this is the first of its kind and spawned decade’s worth of atom-age monster flicks. But watching Beast in 2011, the originality has since faded, due to countless knock offs, into just a completely predictable and unentertaining watch.
So many films have copied this template that in retrospect the film seems cliché and worn. At one point in the film, Nick and I got into a spontaneous debate about the modern day relevance of news organizations that spanned a good 10 minutes.
After agreeing to disagree and returning to the movie, we realized we didn’t miss a single plot point. Yep, it was that predictable.

I’m sure at the time this monster movie was as innovative as Cloverfield – the best and most gripping of the modern day monster movies.
But a man can only eat so many pints of ice cream before he longs for a different flavor. Cloverfield provided a new creamy concoction of the old classic.
With this old classic, I’ve just grown tired of the taste.

N-Rating: 1.9
Nick Rich roars:
"I must say, for a film that had a 'cast of thousands' and was 'over a year in the making' The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms was a bit of a disappointment. However, it did provide me with just what I wanted for this week's viewing (a no thinking, brain vacation)... but for me to recommend this film to anyone based on its merit alone would be just plain irresponsible.

Sure, there were a few times where I thought "wow, I bet this really wowed people back in the day" and sure, the main character had a random accent that came and went (which is just good corny fun), but as I've expressed in the past, this is not nearly enough to make a film a winner in my book. There has to be some pizazz, some razzmatazz in order to coax a decent rating out of this half of the RDHP... and TBf20kF just didn't deliver.

Like Chris I too enjoyed and respected the artistry of Ray Harryhausen displayed in this film. His Beast was really something to behold and waiting for its next appearance was just about the only thing I had to look forward while watching the paper-thin story unfold. But no matter how impressive the Beast was, the story was equally not and even though this flick only weighed in at a moderate 80 minutes it felt way too long.

Yes, I know it is significant because it was the first flick to explore this storyline and I'll give it said props... but props don't make for an entertaining ride. Harsh, but true! Such is life in the big city I suppose (as our Beast found out)! Honestly, I don't have much more to say, so unlike TBf20kF I will keep my runtime down to an appropriate length.

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you're not in the mood to think and have absolutely nothing else to do... or if you'd like to host a MST3K party and need a film for fodder.

Things We Learned From The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms:
-The 1950s loved them some Army.
-Nick gets disappointed when Chris agrees with him on an issue.
-Scientists don’t believe in monsters, but UFOs? Maybe.
-Sexy scientists were abundant in the 1950s.
-Monsters hate boats. Really hate ‘em.
-You can make “coffee so strong it can enter the Olympics.”
-Phone operators listen to your conversations.
-Radiation is the cure for, and cause of, all of life’s problems.
-In a fight, an Octopus can kick a Shark's ass.
-Smoking looked so satisfying in the 1950s.
-Old ballads can warm you even when the fog is a foot thick.
-Destruction is pretty:

Quote of the Viewing:
[As the Beast tears ass through New York City, one brave cop tires to be a hero by firing his six-shooter at the giant dino. The Beast picks him up and chomps him down, looking satisfied.]

Chris: “(In Dino Voice) Mmmmm, tastes like bacon.”

RDHP Presents:
Other Monsters Who’ve
Destroyed New York City
The Beast is just one of many to go on a rampage on the streets of New York City. And we aren’t even counting Lindsay Lohan on a bender. Below, we examine some of the other monsters who have taken a bite out of the Big Apple.

King Kong
At least he did it for love.

Paybacks are a bitch, aren’t they “Allied Forces.”

Cloverfield Monster
At least he did it with originality.

Donald Trump
Who could forget when his Ego broke free of his hair trap and ran amok in the 1980s, and again in the 2000s. Ironically, the fickleness of America, the very thing that created his rampage, eventually banished this beast to obscurity.

Mother Nature – in The Day After Tomorrow
Don’t piss off Mama. Cause Mama gets maddddddd.

Redcoat Army
They burned and raped their way up Manhattan while Washington’s troops sunck out the back door. What a bunch of "American" pussies.

Rudy Giuliani
Times Square’s porno and drug district was decimated when Giuliani “Disneyfied” the area in the early 1990s. Rest in Peace, sticky floored theaters.

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