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Friday, May 3, 2019

The Giant Behemoth (1959)




Time for another fifties movie review and I thought I’d go back to some radioactive monster action with The Giant Behemoth. Though for a fun twist this is a British production. So instead of New York or Chicago being menaced we get London.

Things start off with a scientist warning an audience of his peers about the dangers of the atomic tests. Even though they were conducted in a remote location thousands of miles away you can’t put a fence up in the ocean. The radiation effects the eco system and gets more concentrated the higher up the food chain you go. This is proven to be correct when a dinosaur rises from the depths totally irradiated. So much so that it seems to be able to glow and “throw” deadly radiation off itself at will. After terrorizing the coastline of England, the big fella eventually ends up in London. The military knows that it needs to destroy the Behemoth, but how? If you blow it up radiation will go everywhere! They finally figure out that a torpedo will do the job… because the water will contain the radiation! Isn’t that how this got started in the first place?

Other than that logical quandary of shooting it with a torpedo so that the water contains the radiation The Giant Behemoth is a decent movie. There is an unusually well thought out plot covering the pollution of the sea with atomic tests and how that would change the ecosystem. These scenes don’t linger and drag down the pacing but do stick around long enough to setup the story and make the audience think a bit. Before we really get to see much of the monster, we get beaches full of dead fish and men out of work unable to feed their families. For a fifties creature feature that has a lot more depth to it then I would normally expect. This is a well written movie with something to say.

The monster looks great
No worries though because we do eventually get a lot of the monster. It eventually reaches London and attacks a ferry. From there it crawls out of the Thames and starts to zap (remember it has a radiation attack!) and stomp on the locals and landmarks. The creature is brought to life with some decent miniature work, stop motion animation, and rear projection screens. They even manage to pull off a decent underwater battle between a sub and the monster. I don’t think that I’ve seen that in an old school monster movie before which makes The Giant Behemoth stand out. It might not look as realistic as a new movie would, but I love this type of effects work. I grew up on them and still think they have a charm that the new digital stuff totally lacks.

I can’t think of a bad thing to say about The Giant Behemoth. It is a solid movie with a decent creature and story. This one was in heavy rotation back in my days watching the late-night movie shows and I remember seeing it many times. After all these years it still holds up pretty well. This shows up all over the place so tracking it down shouldn’t be an issue. I recommend checking it out.



© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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