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Behemoth The Sea Monster 1959

What's that coming over the hill? Is it a monster? It is a monster. Oh, bollocks. Or, to be more precise, it's a Behemoth. A what? Exactly.

"And the Lord said... behold now, the Behemoth", goes the caption at the start of this laughable British monster mash, as if that should explain things. And it's not long before a Cornish fisherman, found burned to a crisp on a beach, has uttered as his last words: "From the sea... BEHEMOTH! (urgh...)"

It seems like a strange word for a dying man to scramble to use, when "monster", or "creature", or "fuck-off lizard" would probably have done, but before his death he did seem like an overly educated, RADA-trained sort of Cornish fisherman, so that might explain his vocabulary. After the funeral, the fisherman's daughter goes for a walk on the beach where she found him, only to find that it's covered in dead fish. Quick as a flash, her boyfriend spots some dodgy-looking material on the sand and sticks his hand right in it, screams and collapses.

The film has begun with stock footage of a nuclear explosion, which might be a clue as to what's going on, along with hunky biologist Steve Karnes' stated worries that these explosions could set off a "biological chain reaction". Steve spots a news report which talks about the "death of the Cornish fishing industry" and follows it with a light-hearted piece about a sea monster which has been sighted off the self-same coast (ho ho). He takes a trip down to the coast and immediately starts making a nuisance of himself, discovering that the fisherman who stuck his hand into that radioactive waste is suffering from radiation poisoning (well, derr) and that the ocean is spewing forth glow-in-the-dark fish. "One thing's for sure," speculates our hero, "something has happened here that isn't in the book. Something came out of the ocean... and now it's gone back into it!"

He decides to go and investigate the stretch of water where the glow-in-the-dark fish came from, and a monster is immediately spotted ("There it is" says a fisherman, matter-of-factly). Steve and his crew then manage to lose sight of their quarry, and when he returns to land he finds out that the steam ship Valkyrie has been beached and wrecked by some unknown force. Steve hot-foots it back to London, and while he's travelling, something attacks a farm, zapping the entire family with some kind of death ray.

At the Natural History Museum an expert speculates that the pattern of the attacks points to the idea that this electric and radioactive creature, which no-one has yet clapped eyes on, is making for the Thames to die (and, presumably, fill its last days with a bit of sight-seeing). It's now time for the special effects people to unveil their not-very special effect, and The Behemoth, a daft-looking dinosaur, lumbers into view - blowing up helicopters and capsizing car ferries with gay abandon. A worried London rushes inside to listen to the radio. The creature then changes from a glove puppet into a stop-motion model, and begins zapping people, knocking down buildings and incinerating soldiers. A worried London runs away, screaming.

The authorities are stumped - they can't blow it up, as that would spread the radioactive contamination. But some bright spark has the idea of using a torpedo against it (which would be blowing it up, surely?). Finally, the monster's death is confirmed - but even as it dies, mountains of dead fish are washing up on American shores...

Behemoth The Sea Monster is, like every other British made monster movie, absolutely rubbish. But it is another excuse to see London, rather than New York or Tokyo, get trounced by a lump of animated plasticine (see Konga, Gorgo and It! for more of such entertaining high-jinks). It has probably got something profound to say about how mankind is destroying the world by tinkering with the atom, but any message is buried beneath the usual ingredients of dodgy acting, woeful special effects and lots of jumping to conclusions by all involved.

Updated: February 10, 2007

Behemoth The Sea Monster

Behemoth The Sea Monster

 

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