I can’t have a list of monster movies without including something featuring a Ray Harryhausen creature, so today’s horrible movie is The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. This is one of those movies that I’ve watched a thousand times with my mom and kind of grew up with, but today while looking it up before I wrote this post, I was very surprised to learn that this is credited as the first live-action movie about a monster rampaging a city. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms came out in 1953, a year before the original Godzilla movie. The rampaging monster has become such a cliche that I never would have guessed that Harryhausen’s stop-motion lizard creature was the first!
The plot is what you’d expect, although perhaps it seemed more original at the time. Nuclear testing in the arctic awakens a giant reptile monster. Why was there a reptile living in an icy climate? Who knows! The creature starts moving south, and the strange news reports attract the attention of Lee Hunter, the smart paleontologist who spends a frustrating amount of time bringing the men coffee and sandwiches despite being more perceptive than they are. She works with the witnesses of the creature to help identify it and confirm that it is real. Attempts to capture the monster fail, and it eventually makes its way to New York where it stomps around the city before the final showdown on Coney Island. It’s a fun, cheesy movie with great, quirky special effects.