You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a submarine dive straight into the eyeball of a radioactive sea monster.
This spectacular maneuver can be seen in the 1954 sci-fi/horror flick, Monster from the Ocean Floor. Now, a submarine to the eyeball sounds like a ludicrous end to a radioactive monster, but if you see the film, you’ll agree it was the Only Way.
You may be wondering how planet Earth became saddled with such a creature: In 1946, scientists conducted nuclear explosions at the Bikini Atoll, and the resulting radiation found its way across the Pacific to a cove in western Mexico.
According to the locals, the radiation creates oversized sea animals. But they’re nothing compared to the giant, one-eyed amoeba that lurches ashore during a full moon and captures living beings, whether animal or human.
The amoeba – which looks like, but isn’t, a giant octopus – completely absorbs the flesh of its prey. For example, we discover the monster has sucked an undersea diver right out of his equipment.
The movie tells us the Mexicans aren’t happy with this creature, yet they’ve learned to accept its presence. But when a vacationing illustrator (Anne Kimbell) learns of the monster legend, she’s determined to get to The Bottom Of This.
Fortunately for everyone, she meets a handsome marine biologist (Stuart Wade), who drives around the ocean in a one-man submarine. Despite his fondness for giving oceanic lectures, he ultimately proves useful by diving said submarine into the creature’s single eyeball.
However, he is not helpful to Science At Large because, after killing the sea monster, he leaves it in the ocean with no plans for future scientific study.
Every age has its bogeyman, they say, and in the 1950s it was Nuclear War and the stockpiling of weapons. According to Wikipedia, the U.S. had over 2400 nuclear arms in 1955, while the Soviet Union had 200.
This weapons race weighed heavily on folks. For example, look at this child-friendly informational video on what to do if an atomic bomb strikes. “Always remember,” warns the narrator, “the flash of an atomic bomb can come at any time.”
Yet that didn’t stop western governments from conducting nuclear tests in other countries around the world, where radiation was equally as harmful. The Bikini Atoll, for instance, was the site of 23 nuclear tests between 1946 and 1958. (See this article for the effects of these tests on local residents.)
Interestingly, the rate of nuclear testing around the world has increased. Just look at this Time-Lapse Map of Every Nuclear Explosion Since 1945.
Alas, we digress. We came here to talk about radioactive sea monsters.
But we’re not the only one to digress; Monster from the Ocean Floor itself occasionally sails off course by revelling in luscious undersea footage. We’re so caught up in tranquil marine gardens of plants and fish that we forget the Lurking Danger – namely a certain flesh-eating amoeba.
The film cost between $28,000-$35,000 US, and it grossed an impressive $850,000 ($8.1 million USD today).
It was Corman who contacted the aerospace defence contractor, Areojet General, to borrow their one-man submarine for his movie. The submarine looked like this:
Is the acting in this film praiseworthy? Not always, but the soundtrack is surprisingly inventive. The score during the underwater garden interludes is serene – you feel like you’re at the spa – but it abruptly changes when the amoeba lumbers into the neighbourhood.
And bonus! Wade, that multi-talented marine biologist, serenades Kimbell on the beach with his guitar.
Monster from the Ocean Floor is the perfect length at a speedy 64 minutes. We hope you’ll get the chance to see it, if only to witness a most satisfying demise of a radioactive sea monster.
Monster from the Ocean Floor is streaming at The Film Detective in October.
Monster from the Ocean Floor: starring Anne Kimbell, Stuart Wade, Dick Pinner. Directed by Wyott Ordung. Written by William Danch. Palo Alto Productions, 1954, B&W, 64 mins.