Near the Arctic Circle, an atomic bomb is detonated. This fearsome experiment disturbs the sleep of a giant rhedosaurus encased in ice for more than 100-million years and sends it southward on a destructive, deadly rampage. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a film of firsts. It spawned a new era of atomic-age creature features. It was the first screen adaptation of a work by fantasy fiction titan Ray Bradbury. And it marked the first time Ray Harryhausen had control over special effects. He came up with a fantastic creature (constructed at full scale, all 50 tons of it) that swims down from the north to run amok through New York City before being conquered in a spectacular Coney Island roller coaster finale. Take a classic ride. Unleash The Beast. Year: 1953
Documentaries:Two commemorative 50th anniversary documentaries - The Rhedosaurus and the Roller Coaster: Making the Beast; Harryhausen & Bradbury: An Unfathomable Friendship
Theatrical Trailer:Giant monsters trailer gallery featurnig this film, The Black Scorpion, Clash of the Titans and The Valley of Gwangi
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A matinee programmer with lofty ambitions, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is best appreciated as a vintage showcase for the stop-motion animation of special-effects legend Ray Harryhausen. The hoary plot follows the cold-war formula that dominated science fiction movies of the 1950s: After an atomic bomb test in the northern polar ice cap, a gigantic dinosaur--the fictional "Rhedosaurus"--is awakened from eons of dormancy, plots an undersea course for the Eastern seaboard, and proceeds to wreak havoc on New York City, culminating in a showdown with military marksmen at the Coney Island amusement park. Stock footage and tissue-thin drama make this a by-the-numbers monster flick, further hampered by Eugene Lourie's lackluster direction and a wooden B-movie cast. And yet, Harryhausen's first independent effort retains its atomic-age fascination: Beast marked yet another technical milestone for Harryhausen's impeccable techniques, and its perpetual status as a sci-fi classic is duly acknowledged in the DVD bonus features, including a retrospective featurette and a latter-day reunion of Harryhausen and longtime friend Ray Bradbury, whose short story "The Fog Horn" served as this film's inspiration. --Jeff Shannon
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