Before CGI there was Stop Motion Animation. It was the use of making big things move in tiny little steps. Stop motion animation brought us some of the best Creature Features in the history of Cinema. The pioneer of this form of Special Effects was Willis O’Brien who made films such as The Lost World (1925) and King Kong (1933). Another Pioneer of Stop Motion Animation was Ray Harryhausen who created many Special Effects Masterpieces including Clash of the Titans (1981) and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953).
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms is one of the great legends of Cinema. It is the film that really kicked off the Monster Movie genre. Even though films like The Lost World and King Kong came out before The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms was the first film to involve a Giant Monster Awakened or Created by a Nuclear Bomb to attack a Big City. The Lost World and King Kong have the idea of a creature being brought to the city and then escaping and causing destruction. The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms would go on to inspire many more Monster Movies including Godzilla.
Directed by Ray Bradbury this was the First Screen adaptation of Fantasy Fiction written by Ray Bradbury and it was also the first time that Ray Harryhausen had total control of the Special Effects. The film stars Paul Hubschmid and Paula Raymond in the lead roles.
The film begins with a Nuclear Bomb detonated north of the Arctic Circle. A couple of people checking the radar see something on the radar for a few seconds before it disappears. Two people go out to check some radiation readings and they get separated. One of them sees a strange Creature and goes to check it out. He then sees a very large Lizard and falls off some ice and damages his leg. The other person arrives and goes to look for help. Before he gets very far he also notices the Creature. The Creature causes an avalanche burying the other person. The only survivor gets found and taken to America for Medical Help. He is called Tom Nesbitt (Paul Hubschmid) and is a Professor. He tries to tell people about what he saw but no one believes him. He goes to see another scientist called Dr. Elson (Cecil Kellaway) who does not believe him either but their assistant Lee Hunter (Paula Raymond) thinks differently. With her help Tom is able to figure out what the Creature is – Rhedosaurus. Meanwhile the Creature attacks several boats and a lighthouse. One survivor of one of the attacks is able to identify the same Creature as Tom and goes to talk to Dr. Elson and convince him and some people from an Army Colonel (Kenneth Tobey) that Tom knows to look for the Creature. Dr. Elson goes looking for the Rhedosaurus in a Diving Bell and finds it but does not survive as the Rhedosaurus attacks it. The Rhedosaurus then attacks Manhattan killing several people and injuring many more. The following night the army attacks the Rhedosaurus and find a way of wounding it. However the blood spilled by the Rhedosaurus releases a strange pre-historic illness causing several soldiers to faint. It is decided that it is to be killed with a Radioactive Isotope in hopes of killing it. The Rhedosaurus is spotted at an amusement park; the army gets their best sniper to shoot the isotope of the Rhedosaurus. Tom and the sniper ride the Rollercoaster to the top of the Rollercoaster and shoot the Rhedosaurus. The Rollercoaster train falls off the rollercoaster and causes a fire by landing on some drums. Tom and the sniper climb off the rollercoaster just as the Rhedosaurus collapses and dies.
I remember watching this film when I was very young (4 years old); it was on every morning on Channel 4 before they showed a Godzilla Film. When Channel 4 stopped doing this I had not watched the film for many years. It was not until November 2010 (17 Years Later) that I saw it again; and I still enjoyed it. Ray Harryhausen special effects are better than most CGI films out today. Stop Motion Animation films are still very enjoyable and even though they are not as big budget or as advanced as CGI films they are still Extremely Enjoyable. Without people like Willis O’Brien or Ray Harryhausen there would be no CGI because Stop Motion Animation was the King of Special Effects for many years and without that there would be no Special Effects to upgrade and advance for the future. The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms is a Great example of early Special Effects in Cinema and a great example of Stop Motion Animation.
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms is as enjoyable now as it was when it was first made and should be seen by everyone. It has some of the key important factors of a Good Monster Movie which includes seeing the Monster early on. If you see the monster an hour after the beginning of the film it is not as Good as other monster Movies. The Monster is the Star of the film. Forget the Actors, the Monster is what the story is about and in this the Monster is the Star and appears several times before it’s Big Attack on New York which is an amazing sequence of special effects and is also very enjoyable.
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms is a Titan of the Cinema and a Giant of the Special Effects Industry. If you are a Monster Movie Fan you must see this, if you are a Special Effects Fan you must see this and if you like watching films You Must See This.
GENEPOOL (BCGI stands for Before CGI)