Near the Arctic Circle, an atomic bomb is detonated. This fearsome experiment disturbs the sleep of a giant rhedosaurus encased in ice for more than 100-million years and sends it southward on a destructive, deadly rampage... more ». The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a film of firsts. It spawned a new era of atomic-age creature features. It was the first screen adaptation of a work by fantasy fiction titan Ray Bradbury. And it marked the first time Ray Harryhausen had control over special effects. He came up with a fantastic creature (constructed at full scale, all 50 tons of it) that swims down from the north to run amok through New York City before being conquered in a spectacular Coney Island roller coaster finale. Take a classic ride. Unleash The Beast. Year: 1953DVD Features:
Documentaries:Two commemorative 50th anniversary documentaries - The Rhedosaurus and the Roller Coaster: Making the Beast; Harryhausen & Bradbury: An Unfathomable Friendship
Theatrical Trailer:Giant monsters trailer gallery featurnig this film, The Black Scorpion, Clash of the Titans and The Valley of Gwangi« less
The one that started it all with atomic bomb tests awakening sleeping giant beasts! No rubber suit here, but work by the amazing Ray Harryhausen - do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with his works - detailed perfection every time - a true artist who obviously loved his work. Note the tribute to this film found in the modern day big monster movie "Cloverfield."
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A True Sci-Fi Classic
Robert Childers | Longview, TX United States | 01/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Special effects by the legendary Ray Harryhausen and a story by popular science fiction author Ray Bradburry... this was destined to become a sci-fi classic. This was the first, and probably best, in the long line of prehistoric monster movies that followed and became part of sci-fi film history in the process.
The plot begins as a nuclear scientist sees his partner killed by a giant, prehistoric creature while monitoring an atomic blast near the north pole. Naturally, nobody believes him until a paleontologist, played by Paula Raymond, helps him link several sea and beach disasters (I particularly enjoyed the attack made by the creature on a lighthouse) to the beast and prove there is a real monster on the loose. Finally, the animal surfaces at the NYC docks near Wall Street, destroying buildings, cars and people in his wake. After more mayhem and the discovery of a mysterious disease the animal carries which won't permit it to be destroyed by conventional weapons, the creature meets it's fate when it's cornered within the old Coney Island rollercoaster.
This film is exceptional primarily due to the genius of Ray Harryhausen. His special effects in this film are outstanding, especially when you consider this film was made in 1953 on a budget that wouldn't pay the cost of one days electric bill on most movie shoots these days. The scenes where the creature has been awakened by the arctic atomic test and his (or is it a her?) journey back to it's prehistoric breeding grounds off the mouth of the Hudson River are superb. The intensity of the action never stops and has seldom been equalled. It begins with the opening scenes in the snowy arctic, continues with attacks on several fishing boats, the lighthouse and reaches a highlight when the creature comes ashore in New York City. We're even treated to a live action fight between a shark and an octopus, at least until the beast appears looking for lunch! Also, the acting by the stories human characters is excellent as well. Most of the actors (like Kenneth Tobey) will be recoginzed from other classic horror/sci-fi films of the period.
If you're looking for a real blast from the past and a movie considered by many (myself included) to be the best "prehistoric monster on the loose" flick ever made, you can't go wrong with The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms."
Prehistoric sea-giant rages against city!
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 02/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Based on a story by Ray Bradbury, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953) was directed by Eugène Lourié and serves nicely as the first real showcase of technical effects master Ray Harryhausen.
The film starts out with an atomic test involving detonating a big boom boom the artic, giving us an opportunity to view stock footage of a lovely mushroom cloud. Seems these test were pretty common back in the day, but wait! Something was released from the ice...something that has been frozen in a state of suspended animation for 100 million years...and me be thinking it's a might peckish, after so many years of icy slumber. The beast, it's a big 'un alright, is spotted by two scientists, one being Tom Nesbitt, played by Paul Hubschmid (credited in the film as Paul Christian). The other scientist suffers an icy fate as the beast passes by, knocking into icebergs like a pregnant woman negotiating her girth around a china store, but Tom manages to escape. No one will believe his fantastic tale of a giant monster, but soon reports of boats being attacked by a giant sea serpent along the eastern coast of North America trickle in, lending a little more credibility to Tom's story. Who's crazy now? Jerks...this prompts an old geezer of a paleontology professor, working with Tom, to go down in a diving bell and check out this beastie (good idea there), giving us some more stock footage of a shark attacking an octopus (which, in fact, was really, really, cool). The gargantuan behemoth makes its' way on land, I guess to take in a show and grab a bite, and wreaks havoc among the inhabitants of New York, with all its' stepping on cars and people and smashing into buildings and such. There's a scene around this point that's pretty famous, one involving a patrolman standing before the creature in the middle of the street, firing his handgun in an effort annoy the creature, I suppose, who, once he gets the ravenous beasts' attention, gets all ate up. "Officer down, officer down! We need back up!" The army shows up with their big guns, and begins to do what they do best, shooting up the place. Use of a heavy artillery proves effective, but opens a wound in the creature unleashes yet another threat, prehistoric cooties...yes, germs from the monster's blood has a negative effect on humans, causing illness and death. Ooops...Well, now this is a pickle. How to kill the beast without spreading its' germs?
I really liked the way the movie ended, tying things up nicely, linking the beginning and the end. That's a Bradbury touch, obviously. There are a number of really decent performances in this film, but the highlight is Harryhausen's creature, which gets quite a bit of screen time. The story is also intelligent, but reaction of some of the characters to the situations seems a little out of whack. I would have expected much more shock and awe, but there you go.
The print on this disc is beautiful, and there are some really great special features included. There is a featurette called "The Rhedosaurus and the Rollercoaster: Making the Beast" that includes Harryhausen discussing how he brought the creature in the film to life and another featurette called "Harryhausen & Bradbury: An Unfathomable Friendship" which is basically the two Rays sitting before a small group talking about their professional and personal experiences with each other. Finally there are a like four trailers to other movies Harryhausen has worked on like Clash of the Titans (1981) and The Black Scorpion (1957), among others. On a side note, when the credits appeared at the beginning of the movie, I noticed Lee Van Cleef listed. I don't recall seeing him, but I later learned he was the sharpshooter near the end of the film.
Terrific stop-animation from genius Ray Harryhausen
audrey | white mtns | 04/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Featuring the remarkable animation of Ray Harryhausen and based on a short story by Ray Bradbury, this 1953 film has been re-released and should bring pleasure to Harryhausen fans and devotees of classic monster films. The best things about this movie are that the monster appears early and often, and that there are lots of interesting scenes, such as the fictional Rhedosaurus's attacks on a lighthouse, New York City, and the Coney Island roller coaster. The acting and dramatic tension are only mediocre, but the creature is lots of fun.DVD extras are brief but exciting -- trailers for Harryhausen films currently being released on dvd; a 6-minute making-of featurette; and a terrific 17-minute conversation between Harryhausen and Bradbury, reminiscing on their friendship and careers.The film can be heard in English or French, and subtitled in English, French or Spanish."
RAY HARRYHAUSEN'S FIRST SOLO FEATURE AN OUTSTANDING SUCCESS
Roy P. Webber | Escanaba, Michigan | 12/19/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hired by Jack Dietz and Hal Chester to make a monster movie, Ray Harryhausen had the opportunity to helm the special effects in a feature film for the first time. He worked several years earlier with his mentor Willis O'Brien ( KING KONG ) on MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, a pseudo-remake of the 1933 classic that inspired young Ray. But MIGHTY JOE earned a reputation for being exorbitant since it cost nearly $2 million to make ( due to padding of expenses at RKO and overhead ). So Harryhausen had to devise an inexpensive way to put monsters on the screen to insure the viability of his career. Ray came up with a split-screen process using rear-projection to combine his models with real photographic settings. Shunning the impressive but expensive use of miniature sets and glass paintings ala KONG, he came up with this simple means of putting his creatures in the midst of a live-action scene. Later known as DYNAMATION, the "reality sandwich" was his modus operandi for practically every animation set-up for the rest of his professional calling. The prehistoric star is a fictitious dinosaur called a "Rhedosaurus" which is largely based upon a crocodilian, even bearing an actual molded skin pattern on its underbelly. It is remarkably similar in shape to the New Zealand reptile tuatara, ironically a creature that is also the last of its kind. Measuring some 200' in length and weighing 500 tons, it is several times larger than any known prehistoric. Thawed out by an atomic test in the Arctic, the monster makes it way down the Atlantic seaboard, capsizing several boats on its way to some submurged canyons off NYC. Coming ashore in Lower Manhattan, it kills many people and wreaks destruction until it is finally destroyed by radioactive isotope shot into a wound while attacking the roller coaster at Coney Island ( it was actually filmed at Pacific Ocean Park on the West Coast ). The story was based upon "the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" by Harryhausen's lifelong friend Ray Bradbury, which ran in the SATURDAY EVENING POST. This short story is encapsulated in the lighthouse scene off the coast of Maine; the rhedosaur is beckoned to and attacks the signal in a very atmospheric sequence. Strangly enough, the producers based their screenplay upon this tale and forgot the source, then called the author in for a revision! Starring Paul Christian, Paula Raymond and Cecil Kellaway, this movie was the first linking atomic tests to giant creatures; it inspired the Japanese to create Godzilla the following year. Goood acting, a credible storyline for being a monster-on-the-loose yarn and great stop-motion from Ray make this a winner all the way; it was made for only slightly over $200,000! Director Eugene Lourie went on to make THE GIANT BEHEMOTH and GORGO to become a "sea-serpent" trio with BEAST. Suitable for all ages, except very young children ( < 5 yrs. of age )."
R. J Rey | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | 11/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A monstrous terror from the past is unleashed in the Sci-Fi classic "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms". An atomic blast near the Arctic Circle releases a prehistoric giant trapped in ice over 100-million years. The powerful creature leaves a trail of death and destruction upon surfacing in New York City. "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" is a worthwhile landmark monster movie that honors legendary FX genius Ray Harryhausen's talents. Ray Harryhausen's impressive visual effects and Ray Bradbury's well-paced storyline set the 1953 movie apart from other classic science fiction films. Harryhausen's detailed miniatures and superb animation delivers some very amusing scenes of destruction. The massive scaly beast is a remarkable visual creation. The cast includes Paul Christian, Paula Raymond, Cecil Kallaway, Kenneth Tobey and Lee Van Cleef. "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" was a big commercial success upon theatrical release in 1953 and spawned the "Giant Monster on the Rampage" genre of the 1950s.
Warner's "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" delivers first-rate DVD quality. This well crafted monster movie is presented in full frame format. The DVD contains a sharp and detailed video transfer and a truly clear 2.0 Dolby Digital sound. The extras include trailers of the film and other creature favorites, a short behind-the-scene featurette and interviews with Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury. Fans of classic Sci-Fi will be impressed with its presentation and it scores a solid "B"."