director Oliver Hellman (Ovidio G. Assonitis)
After watching the magnificently bizarre The Visitor (1979), which was also produced by Ovidio G. Assonitis and starred John Huston, and Shelley Winters, I was inclined to check out the Jaws (1975) knock-off, Tentacles, which might otherwise have slipped by me. Tentacles also features Henry Fonda, Claude Akins, and Bo Hopkins. It’s a pretty well-cast and not badly photographed B movie.
Tentacles isn’t about a killer shark, obviously. It’s a giant killer octopus, enraged by radio signals from a big corporate entity, and anybody’s else’s too.
In any monster movie of any kind, even one with just an enraged “giant” version of a particular animal, it always comes down to the monster. In the case of Tentacles, the monster is in almost every shot just images of a regular live octopus intercut to try to make it look like it’s doing stuff. There are a few shots of the octopus’s head speeding through open water like a shark fin, something probably incredibly unlikely in a real creature.
The other real point of interest is how the octopus gets dispatched. In this case, it’s killed by two released killer whales, friendly to Hopkins’ character. The whales of course were not released themselves but intercut in shots in their tanks in San Diego with some open water orcas.
The whole thing isn’t really such great shakes. Nor is it tragically terrible either. Which means the schadenfreude of enjoying a bad movie isn’t there to completely make up for not really enjoying a good movie.
It does underscore how weird and unique The Visitor turned out. Even lightning in a bottle doesn’t always strike twice in the same place.