BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, THE (director/writer: Eugene Lourie; screenwriters: Fred Freiberger/Louis Morheim/Robert Smith/from the Saturday Evening Post story The Fog Horn by Ray Bradbury; cinematographer: Jack Russell; editor: Bernard W. Burton; music: David Buttolph; cast: Paul Christian (Professor Tom Nesbitt), Paula Raymond (Lee Hunter), Cecil Kellaway (Prof. Thurgood Elson), Kenneth Tobey (Col. Jack Evans), Donald Woods (Capt. Phil Jackson), Lee Van Cleef (Cpl. Stone), Steve Brodie (Sgt. Loomis), Ross Elliott (George Ritchie), Jack Pennick (Jacob Bowman), Ray Hyke (Sgt. Willistead), Michael Fox (ER Doctor), Alvin Greenman (1st Radar Man), Frank Ferguson (Dr. Morton), King Donovan (Dr. Ingersoll); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Hal Chester/Jack Dietz; Warner Bros.; 1953)

"Lovable bad sci-fi film that overcomes its slight story and flat acting with wonderful cheesy special effects."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Eugene Lourie ("The Colossus of New York"/"Gorgo"/"The Giant Behemoth"), former designer, directs this lovable bad sci-fi film that overcomes its slight story and flat acting with wonderful cheesy special effects. This low-budget B/W film was the first film to feature the marvelous stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen (called by him Dynamation), in his first solo assignment. Ray created the carnivorous dinosaur from pre-historic time called "rhedosaurus," the film's central piece monster and the only reason for seeing the pic. The film adaptation is based on the Saturday Evening Post short story The Fog Horn by Ray Bradbury, and is cowritten by Lourie, Fred Freiberger, Louis Morheim and Robert Smith.

At the North Pole, a secret nuclear test thaws out a giant pre-historic monster, whose presence is not believed by either the military head of the project, Col. Jack Evans (Kenneth Tobey), or the scientific establishment represented by the esteemed university paleontologist Prof. Thurgood Elson (Cecil Kellaway), even if it's eye-witnessed by the reliable AEC scientist Tom Nesbitt (Paul Christian). The colonel thinks the nuclear physicist suffers from trauma after buried in the snow during a sudden blizzard in the Antarctic and has him checked out in a NYC hospital by a doubting psychiatrist (King Donovan). When there are a few newspaper reports of the monster attacking ships at sea off the coast of Nova Scotia, Elson's loyal assistant Lee Hunter (Paula Raymond), who has developed a crush on Tom, convinces her boss that it's possible. The daring professor goes down in a diving bell in the Atlantic Sea to see the monster for himself and dies mysteriously. Soon the mystery is cleared up as the giant monster makes its way down the American coast and walks on all fours menacingly through Gotham's downtown spreading plague-like radioactive germs (and deadly unknown germs from the pre-historic days) and killing the citizens with ease without being stopped by the Army or NYC's finest. When the beast is wounded, Tom convinces Colonel Jack to use an Army sharpshooter to shoot it in its wound with a radioactive isotope, which will make sure the germs do not spread after its death. The sharpshooter (Lee Van Cleef) stands in a roller coaster ride at Coney Island and successfully hits his mark, and a fire breaks out cremating the monster.

It's a limp but entertaining pic, that gets my nod in its favor because its pseudo-scientific jargon is a hoot and that it has the audacity to have the arrogant colonel take charge of destroying the monster in Gotham. If this was a more real story, he would be outranked by generals and civilians like the mayor, governor or president.

REVIEWED ON 3/19/2010       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"