Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Giant Behemoth (1959)

Russian born director Eugène Lourié didn't direct many movies, only four for cinema and the rest was television work. He was also a brilliant technician and worked with everything behind the camera. As a director I must say he was... amazing. And it's weird that he didn't get more recognition for this. Three of the movies he directed had more or less the same story: gigant sea monster comes and creates havoc in city - twice London! The first was the classic The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and the last was my favorite, Gorgo. This one was made with little money and much love and it's called... The Giant Behemoth!

Something is killing all the fish at a little seaside town in England. It also spreads radioactive contamination and one of the victims manage to stutter the word "Behemoth...." and dies! Some jolly good scientist-chaps, one of them a intensive Gene Evans, goes there and discovers the monster... and makes the military to believe them VERY fast that there's something fishy going on. Of course, the monster attacks London and the rest is history....

The Giant Behemoth is a very interesting movie. It's a nicely written and well acted production that focuses on talk and characters most of the time. We get to see a short, very short glimpse of the monster after an half hour, and then it takes another twenty minutes... and then it take a little while more until the action get's going. Lourié obviously had very little money to work with. All the drama around the monster is filmed very nice and with a lot of details, while the action get's sloppy and hurried. Lourié uses a lot of creative editing to cut around the monster and make the action seem more explosive and spectacular than it is, and he makes it work... almost. 

When Willis O'Brien is involved in the animation we expect something really good. It's not. The creature dosen't have any personality and is very stiff. It dosen't work so well with matte paintings, miniatures or photos as background, but still is quite aggressive and stomps a few cars and tears down at least one building. It's gets better when he's running around night time, and there's some atmospheric shots of the monster. All of this is only because of the lack of budget. But wait, at the same time the action is never boring and it's full speed all the time. The editing makes it exciting and Lourié has a few very good ideas to make it more fun. So you won't be disappointed!

It's a middle-movie of Lourié, but for once it has interesting stuff even around the monster-scenes - which is not that common in the movie monster-history. So a must for monster-fans!

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