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Giant Bore-hemoth

Steve Karnes (Gene Evans) opens The Giant Behemoth with a lecture on radioactivity, Karnes is worried about radiation seeping into the food chain, a result of atomic bomb tests. One scientist rejects the idea as fear mongering; scientific advancement couldn’t possibly lead to harm. Another scientist concurs with Karnes – they had to throw away boatloads of fish in Japan, he says.

The fish matter. Never mind the people. Oh, and don’t take the blame.

Writer/director Eugene Lourie returns to the story he directed once before in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. That movie too featured an irradiated dino awakened by bomb tests. There, the fear of fallout served a thematic purpose, how America’s fascination with ever larger bombs can return to native soil. Here, it’s a lark, a fear-mongering plot device.

Giant Behemoth tries to insinuate religious subtext. The name is generated by the bible. That’s all though. Behemoth launches nuclear attacks on London’s residents (they look like spherical beams protruding from this creature), the glow on victim’s faces and the burns afterward suggestive of burns if hardly ample. London needed a monster of their own; Giant Behemoth does not provide.

Giant Behemoth ends up chronologically crushed between sharper and better written monster flicks

A line of dialog recalls the London bombings during WWII. How great a flying monster might represent those attacks. Not here. Lourie, along with meandering Willis O’Brien stop motion, clumsily follows a formula without much thought aside from genre exploitation. The line about Japanese fish is outright insulting.

If coming for the spectacle, there’s little to see. O’Brien is overmatched by low budget. An embarrassing attack on a ferry uses a static puppet for the monster. Once on land, footage recycles endlessly, including a car stomp in which the stop motion puppet tears and deteriorates as it walks. Destruction includes the corner of one building and dual electrical towers. Lourie’s monster mash is more of an inconvenience.

What’s remarkable is how Lourie did this still one more time, two years later in Gorgo. That’s the better film (and Beast from 20,000 Fathoms better than both). Giant Behemoth ends up chronologically crushed between sharper and better written monster flicks. Gene Evans’ performance is woeful, and the character maddeningly simple.

Celebrating 60 years in 2019, Giant Behemoth rises to the level of giant monster curiosity, left to stop motion die-hards and those fascinated by nuclear cinema. Sadly, neither of those demographics get what they came for.


[Update: Warner’s PR side sent over some details about this release, making note this master was indeed struck this year, and is not the same as the DVD master. The original review follows]

Warner doesn’t provide any technical details with this Archive release. Going by eye, this looks like the same master used in the previous DVD release, but sharper, with a visible jump in detail. A modern scan (again, by eye) with reasonable resolution, Giant Behemoth captures the film stock well. Grain stays consistent with excellent reproduction by the encode. A few moments of visible damage repair will be noticed only by those looking.

Texture runs high, resolving facial definition and other intricate elements. Shots of O’Brien’s puppet pick up on the foam makeup, and expose some shoddy matte work. Optical zooms naturally lower sharpness and detail; O’Brien (or possibly Lourie) employs the technique often.

Fine gray scale keeps enough depth around. Behemoth itself scrolls across the screen with dynamic black skin. It sticks out. Elsewhere, depth provides needed punch, with the high contrast providing suitable brightness.


Things turn a bit rough for the score (credited to Edwin Astley). A missing low-end and wobbling highs leave Giant Behemoth with little sonic weight. Time is unkind. In the midst of action, the effects bleed into the music. One music cue disappears entirely not long after the monster surfaces in London. Overall, there’s a lack of dynamics, even for a mono effort.

Dialog is fine at least, clean and sharp for the period.


Modern effects men Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett provide a mocking commentary (not undeserved) with plenty of dead air. This track was on the previous DVD release.

The Giant Behemoth
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Giant Behemoth is the middle child of director Euegene Lourie’s monster trilogy, but without question the weakest of these three.

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