Behemoth, the Sea Monster

( 2 )

Overview

A perennial of the "Shock Theatre" TV circuit of the 1950s, The British The Giant Behemoth owes a great deal to the earlier American sci-fier The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. A Cornish fisherman is found covered with what looks like radiation burns. Before he dies, the fisherman utters the word "behemoth," citing a monster alluded to in the Bible. It isn't long before England is besieged by a dinosaur-like monstrosity, evidently the by-product of atomic fallout. Only a high-powered torpedo stands between the Giant ...
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Overview

A perennial of the "Shock Theatre" TV circuit of the 1950s, The British The Giant Behemoth owes a great deal to the earlier American sci-fier The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. A Cornish fisherman is found covered with what looks like radiation burns. Before he dies, the fisherman utters the word "behemoth," citing a monster alluded to in the Bible. It isn't long before England is besieged by a dinosaur-like monstrosity, evidently the by-product of atomic fallout. Only a high-powered torpedo stands between the Giant Behemoth and the helpless British citizenry. The film's stop-motion animation is pretty good, considering the tight budget; all the title character lacks is the distinctive personality of a King Kong, Godzilla or Gorgo.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
The production history of Behemoth, The Sea Monster (better known in America as The Giant Behemoth) is, in some ways, more interesting than the movie itself -- though the film does have many enjoyable elements. Watching the final cut of the movie, it's easy to admire the work of animator Willis O'Brien and his associate Pete Peterson, and what they achieved in terms of dinosaur effects on a perilously low budget (a fact of which we are reminded by the ferry-boat sinking sequence, done by different animators, who clearly lacked O'Brien's and Peterson's skills). And the acting and directing are first-rate for a property such as this, with excellent central performances by Gene Evans and Andre Morell. Moreover, aspects of this story are especially grisly -- watching victims get fried (flashed to negative on the film and the burned down where they stand), or wandering through the streets stricken, their skin melted from lethal radiation doses, was pretty chilling for a science fiction film in 1959. But originally, Behemoth, The Sea Monster was to have been a more challenging and subtle horror/sci-fi effort, more along the lines of Hammer Films' Quatermass movies and that same studio's X The Unknown. For starters, the original story by Allen Adler was set in New York, and the mystery started on that side of the Atlantic and in the Hudson River, before the setting (and most of the production) was transposed to England. But the monster was also to have been a disembodied radioactive force, almost impossible to see and to track, except by its victims. It was only decided relatively late in production that the movie would have to show an on-screen monster, and that the monster would be a dinosaur. Thus, what had started out as a fairly novel idea for a science fiction film ended up as very much a descendant of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953) (which, ironically enough, was also directed by Eugene Lourie), as well as Godzilla, King Of The Monsters, something never really intended by its writers. Willis O'Brien was called in to deliver the monster on a pitifully small budget (about $5000 by some accounts), under a sub-contract from Jack Rabin, which gave the renowned special effects wizard behind King Kong some last moments of glory in a career going back to silent days. It's still worth seeing, but it would be equally interesting to see the original idea explored in modern terms and effects. (Note: In the US VHS tape release by Warner Home Video, the producers accidentally used the censored UK edition of the movie, which left out the attack on the ferry boat).
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/20/2011
  • UPC: 883316398111
  • Original Release: 1959
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Region Code: 0
  • Presentation: Full Frame
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:20:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 35,500

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Turner Ian Duncan
Leigh Madison Jeanie Trevethan
Jack MacGowran Dr. Sampson
Henry Vidon Tom MacDougall
Neal Arden Announcer
Gene Evans Steve Kames
Andre Morell Professor James Bickford
Maurice Kaufmann Submarine Officer
Leonard Sachs Scientist
Technical Credits
Douglas Hickox Director
Eugène Lourié Director, Screenwriter
Ted Astley Score Composer
Edwin T. Astley Score Composer
Irving A. Block Special Effects
Desmond Davis Cinematographer
Louis de Witt Special Effects
David Diamond Producer
Lee Doig Editor
Jimmy Evans Makeup
Daniel Hyatt Screenwriter
Willis O'Brien Special Effects
Jack R. Rabin Special Effects
Harry White Art Director
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Quirky but worth the price

    I had thought this was the version I viewed when I was about seven years old but it was not. Maybe it was a condensed version but nevertheless, I enjoyed it. The part I thought would be there was when some people went down into the ocean in a diving bell looking for the monster and then the guy said " It's unbelievable." Otherwise I believe it is the same flick I saw when young. I did enjoy the sea views and if one finds it boring, that is just because they didn't observe this film as in that era of time. If you're an older sci-fi buff, you'll most likely feel the same way as this writer. Some modern sci-fi flicks are not all that appealing and so, to each his own......

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A reviewer

    t has to be said up front that THE GIANT BEHEMOTH is BO-RING! It's often more fondly remembered as a better picture than what it was. It's too long for the material, it takes too long to get to the BEHEMOTH, and once we finally get to it - it disappoints. It's too stiff, too flat and too little too late (with effects repeated again and again to pad out the time) for the film when it finally arrives. Not to say it doesn't have its moments, but they are fleeting at best (and sloppy at worst - check out the bottom left hand corner of your screen when the BEHEMOTH tips the ferry over in the Thames, the neck of BEHEMOTH comes up too far, exposing the naked metal structure underneath). THE GIANT BEHEMOTH is simply a "CSI/MONSTER procedural" film that opens with a strange occurance and then spends the rest of the film searching for, and following the clues to something which is no mystery to anyone who saw the poster, and paid for a ticket. It's a GIANT BEHEMOTH!, we see it, why can't they, and when are they going to get to it? But, having said that, it is interesting to watch what amounts to a mystery of finding, in essence, an 800 pound gorilla in a locked room from a trail of bananas. But, it's not enough to save the picture. Commentary is included with Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett (effects men both) and while they admire the effort given to creating THE GIANT BEHEMOTH, they are not afraid to slouch back into their seats and question every choice made in making this picture. From it's slow and plodding pace, to their novel take on this film being about the "chain of command" (pushing paperwork and theories upwards to those who have the power to issue orders and (finally) take action. They rightly joke that the only authority not represented in the film is the Queen herself, whose blessing it seems was not sought when it came to radioactive monsters). Being not only effects men, but writers and directors as well, it is funny to listen to them point out all the tricks the creators of THE GIANT BEHEMOTH used to pad the film to make its running time - great stuff, and a fun commentary. Overall, should you own a copy of THE GIANT BEHEMOTH? If you're a fan (be it mild or die hard) then, yes, your collection would not be complete (and this is coming from someone who dares to own a copy of MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL which is BO-RING! times two). Despite its flaws and plodding pace, there is some love there, and worth the space on your shelf. Also, for DOCTOR WHO fans... there is one TARDIS in THE GIANT BEHEMOTH, see if you can spot it.

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