It’s rather surprising that more giant creature films don’t feature giant squids. We’ve had all sorts of radioactive monstrosities over the years, yet the giant squid is real. Logic dictates that something real is far more frightening than something that isn’t. Though not a giant squid (it’s an octopus), It Came From Beneath the Sea does a fantastic job at making the experience seem real thanks to Ray Harryhausen’s effects and placing it high in the ranks of 50′s monster movies.
Any decent science fiction fan knows Ray Harryhausen’s work. This was his first film with producer Charles H. Schneer, who would join him on countless other classics for the rest of his career. Harryhausen’s creation here remains spectacular to this day and the rest of the effects work is still believable. The final assault on the shores of San Francisco is a combination of amazing miniatures and detailed animation.
This is a somewhat disjointed film, however, as the two lead characters lead a generic romance that goes nowhere in the second half. Stock footage is used extensively and the narrator used in the first half-hour is grating (and speaks only once in the second half). It’s obvious that the focus is put squarely where it should be for the final chapters and it comes out just fine in the end, but it almost makes the first 40 minutes seem meaningless. Even so, It Came From Beneath the Sea is one of the best of the 50′s creature features and a must-see for any fan of this quirky genre.
Now in colorized form, the remastered video is a step above the prior DVD release. The largest issue here in both black and white and color versions is grain. It eliminates many of the colors (or shades), giving the film a static, sometimes lifeless look. The original black and white is sharper overall, with better detail. Rich blacks are dominant regardless of which version you choose. Also, regardless of youR feelings on colorization, the latest process brings this film to life.
Supposedly remixed into 5.1, the audio mix here is flat and completely in the center channel. There is no bass response to speak of. Dialogue is clean and clear, though, without any distortion or static.
While some of the extras are new, many are carried over from Columbia’s release of 20 Million Miles to Earth. A commentary with Harryhausen and various visual effects artists (modern and classic) is somewhat dry, but still informative and fun.
Disc 2 starts off with a 20-minute retrospective titled Remembering it Came from Beneath the Sea. Some information is redundant from the commentary. Six photo galleries follow. A Modern Look at Stop Motion features a student discussing the process as it stands today. The other extras are pulled from the 20 Million disc.
Tim Burton Sits with Ray Harryhausen is an extended face-to-face meeting between the two men. Their chat is informative and fun, including some showcasing of props from Earth vs. The Flying Saucers. It runs quite long at 27 minutes. Film Music’s Unsung Hero is a retrospective hosted by David Schechter. This is another long one, looking at the stock or only slightly altered stock tracks crafted by Mischa Bakaleinikoff. His familiar themes would be used in countless films.
An 18-minute featurette looks at advertising from the era, from lobby cards to detailed press kits. A digital comic wraps up the extras as a sequel to the film, and is filled with solid art, though it’s a shame the physical version wasn’t in the case.
Columbia makes an embarrassing blunder with the synopsis on the back of the DVD case. It states the creature has eight tentacles, when it’s stated many times on the DVD that, in reality, it only had six. This made it easier and quicker to animate.