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Film / The Giant Behemoth

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Behemoth, the Sea Monster as it is called in the United Kingdom or The Giant Behemoth in the United States is a 1959 American-British science-fiction B-movie directed by Douglas Hickow and Eugène Lourié, starring Gene Evans and André Morell.

Originally a story about an amorphous blob of radiation, the script was changed at the distributor’s insistence to a pastiche of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, though elements of original concepts remains in the early parts of the film and the titular monster’s nuclear breathing power. One remnant of the blob plot remains when a character finds a glowing blob of radioactive protoplasm on the beach.

Basically, the movie’s about the resurrection of a dormant dinosaur called the Paleosaurus caused by the dumping of radioactive waste in the ocean by the marines, the dangerous blobs of radiation giving said monster the power to project electric shocks and radioactive beams. After said behemoth terrorizes the English coast, the realization of destroying the creature with conventional weaponry would spread a dangerous amount of radioactive contamination over the entire country thus preventing them from attacking the monster as it threatens London.

Tropes associated with this movie:

  • Absentminded Professor: Dr. Sampson.
  • Advertised Extra: Jean's actress gets rather substantial billing despite her tiny role. Ditto John.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: There is an actual genus called Palaeosaurus, but it's indeterminate because it's only known from a couple of teeth. The Paleosaurus in this movie, however, is an entirely fictional dinosaur.
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: Radiation poisoning does not give you the ability to emit powerful bursts of concentrated radiation.
  • Body Horror: The tumors and radiation burns on the people hit with the Paleosaurus' Death Ray are pretty nasty, even if they do just look like they smeared the actors with lumpy oatmeal.
  • Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff": The title suggests that the monster is based on the Behemoth. It actually looks more like a different Biblical monster, the Leviathan.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Narrowly avoided with John. His brush with the mysterious radioactive ooze on the beach could've been a lot nastier.
  • Death of a Child: Played straight, rather cruelly for a movie of this vintage. Not only is the farmer's son burned to death along with his dad, but there are numerous children aboard the ferry the Paleosaurus sinks.
  • Death Ray: The Paleosaurus' preferred method of dispatching its victims. The ray's effects either blow the target up entirely (like with Sampson's helicopter) or just give them a lethal dose of radiation. It isn't quite Godzilla, but it's similar.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Jean. After her father's death, she disappears from the story.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The Giant Behemoth! So, The Huge Big Thing?
  • Dumb Dinos: The Paleosaurus is very sick from radiation poisoning, and it's suggested that its goal is to migrate to shallow water. However, it makes no effort to avoid populated areas or trouble with humans.
  • Dying Clue: Tom's last words to his daughter and John the barfly. The only problem is, it was broad daylight when the Paleosaurus attacked him, and so he should've identified his attacker as "a huge sea serpent thing that emitted a burning hot white light" (or Cornish words to that effect). Instead he merely gasps, "From the sea! Burning like fire! Behemoth!"
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Used in the sinking of the ferry scene.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: Averted. The Paleosaurus is invisible to radar.
  • Green Aesop: At the beginning of the movie, Steve Karnes hosts a lecture explaining why you don’t dump radioactive waste in the ocean. While nobody believes in him, the Palaeosaurus and its radiation sickness prove him right. While this may come off as a bit of a Space Whale Aesop, dropping radioactive waste into the sea is a real practice, and although the effects so far have been negligible (especially compared to the events of this movie), it's likely that marine ecosystems will become contaminated anyway should the practice continue.
  • Hellish Copter: Poor Dr. Sampson finds out about the Paleosaurus' Death Ray the hard way. The critter blasts his helicopter out of the sky with it.
  • Ignored Expert: Basically nobody listens to Steve Karnes. Admittedly, there isn't a lot of immediate evidence to back up his theories, but the manner in which he is dismissed as a crank by everyone except Bickford fits this trope.
  • Immune to Bullets: Par for the course for a 50s monster movie. It doesn't help that the British Army seems hellbent on attacking it solely with infantry assault weapons.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Scientist Steve Karnes is at the firing controls of the mini-sub at the climax, instead of a more capable naval man, simply because he's the hero.
  • My Car Hates Me: Two men get killed because their car won't start, allowing the Paleosaurus to pick the car up and throw it into the Thames with them still inside.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Namely by dumping radioactive waste into the ocean and resurrecting a dinosaur.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Professor Bickford, one of the only people who gives Karnes the time of day.
  • Recycled Premise: From both The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and The Lost World (1925).
  • Secretly Dying: The Paleosaurus turns out to be dying from the radiation poisoning it.
  • Sensor Suspense: During the scene with the helicopter.
  • Stock Scream: The screams from the log scene in King Kong (1933) are used.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The Behemoth is finally destroyed, but over in the United States irradiated fish start washing up on shore, the same sign which heralded the Behemoth's arrival.
  • Title Drop: A couple of times, notably the ominous opening narration, as well as Tom Trevethan's dying words.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • During the London rampage, a bunch of onlookers for some reason insist on standing on a street corner and gawking at the dinosaur instead of joining the others in fleeing. They wind up getting a good ol' blast from the Paleosaurus' Death Ray for their tardiness.
    • Then there are the two guys who sneak out onto a bridge to get a closer look at the Paleosaurus, and then try and escape in a car which won't start. The noise of the engine trying to turn over attracts the dinosaur's attention, and he promptly picks the car up (with the two men inside) and chucks the entire vehicle into the Thames.
    • And finally we have John the barfly. Yes, John, touch the mysterious glob of glowing protoplasm...
  • Whateversaurus: The Paleosaurus is an entirely fictional species looking like a weird hybrid of a sauropod and a theropod.