The Giant Behemoth – UK/USA, 1959

The Giant Behemoth is a 1959 British-American science fiction monster movie directed by Douglas Hickox (The Hound of the Baskervilles, 1983; Theatre of Blood) and Eugène Lourié (Gorgo; The Colossus of New YorkThe Beast from 20,000 Fathoms) from a screenplay by the latter and Daniel James. Robert Abel and Allen Adler provided the storyline. The film stars Gene Evans, André Morell and John Turner.

The original storyline was about an amorphous blob of radiation, however, the script was changed at the distributor’s insistence to a pastiche of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), though elements of the concept remain in the early parts of the film and in the “nuclear-breathing” power of the titular monster.

The special effects were overseen by Willis O’Brien (The Black ScorpionKing Kong; The Lost World).

The Giant Behemoth will be released on Blu-ray on January 22 via the Warner Archive Collection. Special features:

  • Audio commentary by special effects veterans Phil Tippett and Dennis Muren
  • Theatrical trailer

Buy: Amazon.com

Plot:

Marine atomic tests cause changes in the ocean’s ecosystem resulting in dangerous blobs of radiation and the resurrection of a dormant dinosaur that smashes its way through London…

Reviews:

” …derivative, overly pedantic, and needlessly talky in places when it doesn’t need to be. It does excel in its two leads, but nobody watches a monster movie solely for its acting. Its bread and butter comes late in the game, but the payoff is modest yet satisfying.” Cool Ass Cinema

“Camera tilts and clever foreground props make the Behemoth look appropriately Giant, and expressive night lighting helps to hide the fact that the model dino isn’t particularly dynamic. When the Behemoth ‘projects’ radioactivity, Jack Rabin superimposes optical effects used the previous year on Kronos…” DVD Savant

“On its own terms, it’s a fair movie, but it definitely suffers in comparison to its model. For one thing, the Behemoth is simply not as impressive as the Rhedosaurus; not only is it not as well animated, but it looks a bit rubbery and feels more like a model.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

” …although the puppet was not too bad, it wasn’t the slickest you would ever see, though that has its charm as well as it cuts a swathe through the London population, slaughtering innocents, destroying property and generally behaving very badly. The script lent very heavily on science to back up its plot…” The Spinning Image

“There is a lot of consternation and stress going on during the movie when they are all trying to think of ways to deal with the creature.  When you can show that you believe in the subject, no matter how silly it might be, you know you are watching a good film.” The Telltale Mind

Cast and characters:

  • Gene Evans … Steve Karnes
  • André Morell … Professor James Bickford – The Mummy’s Shroud; The Plague of the Zombies
  • John Turner … John
  • Leigh Madison … Jean Trevethan
  • Jack MacGowran … Dr. Sampson, the Paleontologist – The Fearless Vampire Killers; Captain Clegg; The Brain
  • Maurice Kaufmann … Mini Submarine Officer
  • Henri Vidon … Tom Trevethan
  • Leonard Sachs … Scientist

Production:

The live-action scenes were filmed entirely in the UK, including London. The stop-motion animation special effects were shot in a Los Angeles studio.

Image credits: Skyhook Models | Wrong Side of the Art!

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