Behemoth the Sea mMonster (!959)- review

Behemoth the sea Monster(A.K.A) The Giant Behemoth. (1959) -Amazon Prime.

There is a lot of “classics” on Amazon, which is to say the place is a veritable treasure trove of old crap. I recently discovered this, and having always wanted to see the long-lost British classic; “Gorgo”- decided to watch this instead. I was far from disappointed.

The thing is old films, science fiction and horror in particular, frequently don’t age well and are funny. If you encounter such you have not lost out by the easy laughs and odd cheap shot at the dialogue. For example if you get a chance to see either “ The Purple Monster Strikes” (1945) or “The Giant Spider Invasion” (1975), leap at it; ‘Bad’ does not come worse and there are laughs aplenty for the sardonically inclined. On the other hand mere age does not betoken ‘bad’ and “Nosferatu” (1922) might well leave scars that last years, and the “Cabinet of Doctor Caligari” (1920) is still a very creepy experience.

So I figured with “Behemoth the Sea Monster”, I’d either get a piece of vintage classic or laughably undrinkable vinegar. Either way it’d be interesting and either way it’d keep me away from possible sources of the plague. Such are the times we live in.

In any event the outcome was somewhere in the middle. At the very beginning after a Cornish fisherman beaches his boat and addresses his beautiful blonde daughter in the impossibly cultured tones of a BBC Radio announcer, the viewer is rendered somehow devoid of cutting remarks, especially since considering that the dialogue, if clunky, is actually very well written and acted. This film may be dated, but it was a quality production at the time of release. Through the film the science (aside from the actual behemoth itself), is rock solid and forms an interesting foundation to the film -especially when you consider that this film was made post Nagaski at the height of M.A.D. and even the average viewer would have been awash in a tidal wave of information about Atomic energy, and would have smelled bad science a mile off. The film does its level best on that front and is, if less funny, worthy of some respect. That said the Behemoth itself is predominantly jerky stop-motion animation and really pretty bad, but is worth remembering that this was undoubtedly one of the films that inspired the immortal Ray Harryhausen to think, “Hell I can do better than that” – and for that, if little else, we owe “Behemoth the Sea Monster” a debt of great gratitude. Pretty good but far from great.

(c) Alex Rieneck, May 2020

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