I like it when a memory movie hits disc that coincides with the first time I saw it. That happened with Equinox (1970), saw it in the spring, hit disc in the spring, and The Strangeness (1985), saw it in the summer and it hit disc late August during a heat wave in 2007, and now there’s Tentacles (1977). I remember seeing it on TV back when I was a kid when I was either 8 or 9, it was at night and I remember it being pretty hot too. Essentially Tentacles is a summer movie for me and it’s first ever blu-ray release became that as well.
You know what’s wrong with the world? Keep pulling back the layers and you’ll find there’s a specific demographic that’s been forcing society into a slow motion suicide for decades—rich, old, white guys. And you can trace the problem in Tentacles not to a giant octopus, it’s just a symptom, but to a rich, old, white guy by the name of Whitehead (Henry Fonda), the head of this Trojan Corporation that’s been doing underwater construction with ultra-sonic waves way above the legal limit. To his defense, however, this particular rich, old white guy wants to keep everything within the legal limits but his second in command is the one who’s keeping the CEO in the dark and circumventing the law just to make construction faster. You see these above-the-normal radio waves have caused a giant octopus to target humans and he starts off by eating a baby, and then some local on his boat, both bodies are found but the odd cause of death is what’s causing the uproar in this small community. Prominent and retired reporter, Ned Turner (John Huston), latches onto the deaths and starts investigating while his sister, Nellie (Shelly Winters), prepares to enter her son and his son’s friend in a yacht race that will eventually end badly for one of them.
Local Sheriff Robards (Claude Akins) tries to keep the peace but that’s hard to do when the deaths keep mounting, specifically two divers who are best friends with this famous marine expert, Will Gleason (Bo Hopkins). He sent them down to the local California community to check out Trojan’s construction and now he’s forced to travel down to find out what killed thems. Of all the characters in the movie, he suffers the most. Not only did his friends get eaten, but his sister-in-law gets eaten and when his wife goes out to find her missing boat, she too is eaten. What’s a grieving marine expert left to do? Sic a couple of trained killer whales on the octopus, which he does and that works out pretty well for him. I mean it doesn’t bring back his dead wife, or his buddies, or anything, but it does make the octopus just as dead as they are, so, I guess, on some level it ends up being some kind of a “win.” At least no more people will end up in the octo’s belly.
This is the only giant octopus movie I’ve ever seen that actually frightened me, it does border on being a horror movie, but has next to no gore. The only gruesomeness in the movie is the shot of one of the octopus’ victims in the beginning. Unlike Ray Harryhausen’s Godzilla-sized, stop-motion, killer cephalopod from It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955), director Ovidio G. Assonitis’ is much smaller, about the size of a boat, big enough to sink at least, and the FX ranges from an actual octopus, to miniatures, to some brief puppetry with the money shot in that category being the death of Will’s wife at night out in the ocean when the octopus sinks her ship then goes after her wrapping her up in tentacles and lifting her out of the water. Very effective scene I must say, with equally effective FX, and since I cannot swim and have had nightmares for most of life on and off about drowning, or being underwater and assaulted by all kinds of nightmarish things I cannot even begin to describe, that scene freaked me out and still manages to unnerve me at this ripe old age of 46. I love Harryhausen’s movie but Assonitis’ take is the more effective one in the fright department, and I have still not seen another giant octopus movie that works as well as his.
I do remember seeing Reptilicus (1961) when I was a kid and I was really hoping it would be one of those memory movies that hold up, but after seeing it last night, I am sad to report it does not. Rarely has that happened. Off hand I can think of only two other movies that fell into this category: Zontar, The Thing From Venus (1966) and The Eye Creatures (1965).
Ever since the creation of ‘giant rampaging monsters in cinema’ is seems just about every country has tried their hand at destroying their capital with a giant, rampaging monster. The Japanese obviously being the king of this, but the Brits tried it with Gorgo (1961) and Konga (1961) and even Copenhagen threw their hat into the ring. Reptilicus is the only giant monster movie to come out of that country.
It starts off with miners finding this fossil. Their drill digs into the tail and brings up some tissue. This tail is then unearthed and taken to a research facility where it’s put on deep freeze, and much like the unintended thaw of the alien in The Thing From Another World (1951), the tail is left unattended and thaws out, but what the scientists learn is this prehistoric creature can regenerate. So for reasons unknown they decide to put the tail in a huge vat of water, hook it up to some nutrients and allow it to re-grow its body. For a supposed prehistoric creature the final form of Reptilicus looks very much like an Asian dragon.
Our heroes are General Mark Grayson (Carl Ottosen) and Sven Viltorft (Bent Mejding). Ottosen is familiar to me because he’s in another memory movie, one that I actually like—Journey To The Seventh Planet (1962). Sidney Pink directed this one (the American version) and Journey by the way.
I don’t know . . . the crude monster puppetry just doesn’t work for me anymore. Which is surprising since I can endure, and even love, a lot of “low production value” on certain B-movies. Not this one, unfortunately. To be honest the main reason I wanted this double feature anyhow was for Tentacles, which to me is the better of the two flicks here.
Both of these movies have been previously released on DVD as part of MGM’s Midnite Movies, which sadly has long been discontinued. On June 16th Scream Factory (Shout! Factory’s horror sub-label) releases both of these on blu for the first time as part of a double feature only.
Video/Audio/Subtitles (Tentacles): 1080p 2.35:1 high definition widescreen—English LPCM Stereo Track—English subs only
Video/Audio/Subtitles (Reptilicus): 1080p 1.66:1 high definition widescreen—English LPCM Stereo Track—English subs only
Both of these new transfers are much improved over their DVD counterparts. Guessing, however, on Reptilicus since I never owned the previous DVD, but the colors and clarity on this new version wowed me. Also note the previous disc incarnations of Reptilicus were full frame, this is the first widescreen presentation of that flick, and this Tentacles transfer is the same uncut version that appeared on MGM’s Midnite Movies double feature (paired with Empire Of The Ants).
Extras included on Tentacles…
- Theatrical Trailer
- Photo Gallery
- Radio Spot
Extras included on Reptilicus…
- Theatrical Trailer
- Photo Gallery