Plot – Marine atomic tests cause changes in the ocean’s ecosystem, resulting in dangerous blobs of radiation and the resurrection of a dormant dinosaur that threatens London – The Giant Behemoth.
Released – 1959
While the vast majority of ’50s monster movies were centred around the destruction of American and Japanese metropolises, every so often a creature would make its way to a city elsewhere in the world in an attempt to show audiences something new or at least another group of landmarks being toppled, with The Giant Behemoth firmly in the latter, with Eugène Lourié effectively remaking his previous film The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms but this time set in Britain, hoping this more unique setting helping to the film stand out from its competitors. Something Lourié tried again in 1961 with his Godzilla rip-off Gorgo.
The fact that The Giant Behemoth, for the most part, a re-imaging Lourié’s previous film, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just like with 20,000 Fathoms, Behemoth boasts wonderfully high production values for the genre, including great cinematography and set design, especially the scenes shot on the Cornish coast.
Additionally, just like in his previous films, Lourié devotes great care to be as scientifically accurate as possible, with the depiction of the scientists classifying the creature and coming up with a plan to stop it, delivered in a fast and entertaining manner. Also, the film’s focus on radiation and the environmental effects blindly using nuclear weapons would cause. Indeed, the film echoing the varying concerns the Cold War was causing.
Cast-wise, while the film tries its hardest to be entertaining, a combination of the stereotypical British stiff upper lip and the difficulty of mixing actors and stop-motion made elements of the film unintentionally funny and some performances feel wooden. Not helped by the fact that even though some shots are carbon-copies of one’s seen in 20,000 Fathoms, the stop-motion failing to reach the same levels as Lourié’s previous movies, with shots being repeated more than once, including the same car getting crushed, twice in quick succession. Already the models weren’t the most convincing in the first place.
Despite the best of intentions and touching on interesting topics, The Giant Behemoth was let down by a plot and special effects that had been done better in Lourié’s previous films, though if you’re a fan of B-Movie creature features, there is enough here to keep you entertained for 71 minutes.