The Giant Behemoth (1959)

The Giant Behemoth (1959) movie poster

directors Eugène Lourié, Douglas Hickox
viewed: 02/13/2016

Director Eugène Lourié had an interesting career.  He made three of what are retroactively considered kaiju films, two of which were stop-moiton, the last of which was a guy in a suit monster:  The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), The Giant Behemoth, and  Gorgo (1961).  He also made the obscure but interesting The Colossus of New York (1958).  He also worked as art director on a multitude of films and television, notably Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight (1952) as well as Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor (1963) and The Naked Kiss (1964).  Co-director Douglas Hickox would go on to make Theatre of Blood (1973) and Zulu Dawn (1979).

The Giant Behemoth (a.k.a., Behemoth, the Sea Monster) is a stop-motion creature feature, a weak step-child of Gojira (1954), also a dinosaur resurrected by nuclear radiation tests who breathes some atomic fire.  In The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Lourié worked with Ray Harryhausen.  Here, attempting to employ Willis O’Brien, he wound up with O’Brien’s assistant Pete Peterson, working with a much scrimpier-seeming budget.

The creature is first seeing vaguely through binoculars, and then appears in shots that don’t seem animated.  It’s not til the film’s final third that the stop-motion creature gets going and the fun kicks in and London gets trashed.

Of all of the 1950’s stop-motion creature features, this might be one of the cheapest, but it has its points.  Of course, I’m a total pushover for such things.

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