|Figure 1: The film's theatrical poster. Which appears|
to present the beast as much larger than it was in
the film (Bourne, 2011).
The first thing that signifies Beast as a B-movie aside from the rather action-word heavy and emotionally charged messages on the poster to the right, is that the film was made on a meagre $210,000 (around $1.85 million in today's money (saving.org, 2015)). The monster, as a stop-motion creation, tended to change size depending on the scene. During a rampage tohugh New York its height to the top of the head appeared to alternate between 3 and 4 floors. In one scene the monster picks up a car with a guy in it and the camera cuts to a man in a stationary car being horribly shaken. In an earlier scene when the monster eats a fighting shark and octopus, it does so by engulfing them in its mouth by moving away from the audience as its mouth surrounds the two fighting animals. Somewhat giving away that the two sets of creatures were made up of two reels of film.
The film's story, while gripping, does have its corny points. Dr Thurgood Elson (Cecil Kellaway) gets a good look at the monster but is so amazed at it that he refuses to have his diving bell raised even as the beast opens its mouth and subsequently eats the diving bell. When the monster attacks New York City in the climax, the first person to actually fight back does so with a police-issue revolver. Which quite expectedly does absolutely nothing and the poor cop gets eaten.
|Figure 2: The beast tears down its first building, in homage to the story that|
inspired it. (Bourne, 2011)
As I said the film is not a bad B movie. The budget was low enough that Ray Harryhausen had to do all the animation work himself (Harryhausen, 2013) and despite this the animation was considered revolutionary for its time and holds up rather well. The dialogue, while it does have a few off moments, is fairly believable - part of the skepticism of the idea of this monster being alive is that there had beenno evidence for anything surviving being flash-frozen - and the method of downing the monster is rather intelligent. There is a plot element that explains why the monster cannot be killed with conventional methods and the solution avoids a cliche of some monster films where science is bad. The film does go some way to explain monster's mindset and attack patterns, with the chain of attacks creating a believable indicator that it is travelling down the American East Coast.
|Figure 4: Considering the film's budget, I'd forgive the production team if|
these cars were in fact toys.
The dinosaur's plausability also holds up compared with both predecessors and contemporaries despite its fictional nature. At the time of filming there was thought to be little distinction between a dinosaur and a reptile, and the thought at the time was that like crocodiles or snakes, dinosaurs were cold-blooded. However recent research has suggested that dinosaurs may in fact have been warm-blooded (Viegas, 2015), which makes the monster's activeness in the arctic and in Canadian coastal waters plausable.
The film has held up well enough that the Rhedosaurus (the monster dinosaur in the film) inspired the monster movie genre and is seen as either the father or the cousin to Gojira, quite possibly one of the most famous movie monsters in history.
- Harryhausen, R., 2013; Ray Harryhausen - The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms; YouTube; available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftve5PT1sYI (last accessed 27th October 2015)
- Saving. Org, Value of $210,000 by Year; Inflation Calculator; available at http://www.saving.org/inflation/inflation.php?amount=210,000 (last accessed 27th October 2015)
- Lauer, C., Suduiko, A., 2015; Ray Bradbury: Short Stories Summary and Analysis of "The Fog Horn"; GradeSaver; available at http://www.gradesaver.com/ray-bradbury-short-stories/study-guide/summary-the-fog-horn (last accessed 27th October 2015)
- Viegas, J., 2015; Dinosaurs May Have Been Warm Blooded; Discovery news; available at http://news.discovery.com/animals/dinosaurs/dinosaurs-may-have-been-warm-blooded-mammal-like-150528.htm (last accecced 27th October 2015)
- Figure 1: Bourne, M., 2011; [The film's theatrical poster. Which appears to present the beast as much larger than it was in the film]; Beast Fathoms Poster; available at https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-2Geq1onppi8/TYeBf_Ko9FI/AAAAAAAACX4/A-w6jeGggkk/s1600/beast_fathoms_poster.jpg (last accessed 29th October 2015)
- Figure 2: Borune, M., 2011; [The beast tears down its first building, in homage to the story that inspired it.]; Beast Fathoms Lighthouse 2; available at https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Wy0F8POWydI/TYd7oSoGExI/AAAAAAAACXc/7G5EY4Roxh0/s1600/beast_fathoms_lighthouse2.jpg (last accessed 29th October 2015)
- Figure 3: Deniz, M., 2011; [The Rhedosaurus knocks down a building in New York]; Beast 13; available at https://monsterawarenessmonth.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/beast13.jpg?w=450&h=335 (last accessed 29th October 2015)
- Figure 4: "the cj", unknown. [Considering the film's budget, I'd forgive the production team if these cars were in fact toys]; Beast From 20,000 Fathoms Large; available at http://3219a2.medialib.glogster.com/media/61/61d63a424038382f925f995a5d8667d0875152066f59224a1028fc498645e678/beastfrom20000fathoms-large-jpg.jpg (last accessed 29th October 2015)