Monday, September 10, 2018

The Five Best Giant Squid/Octopus Movies

1. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) - Walt Disney provided the giant squid with its best role when it attacked the submarine Nautilus during a ferocious storm at sea. As a huge tentacle grabs Captain Nemo (James Mason) and threatens to crush him to death, harpooner Ned Land (Kirk Douglas) arrives just in time to save the day. Director Richard Fleischer initially filmed this fondly-remembered scene at sunset, but was concerned that the wires operating the squid would be visible. Thus, it was shot again, this time during the storm at night. That version appears as an extra on the newest 20,000 Leagues DVD (and it's also on YouTube).
The giant squid attacks the Nautilus in torrential rain.

Bad news for Golden Gate Bridge!
2. It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) - Special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen introduced the most destructive giant octopus to date with this stop-action animated creature. Due to cost constraints, the title creature had only six tentacles. In his Film Fantasy Scrapbook, Harryhausen noted: "I sometimes wonder if the budget had been cut anymore if we might not have ended up with an undulating tripod." It's not Harryhausen's best work, although the annihilation of the Golden Gate Bridge is memorable. Ray also animated another tentacled underwater creature in 1961's Mysterious Island.

3. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) - Although it rarely gets good reviews, I always enjoy this theatrical prelude to Irwin Allen's TV series. It features a giant squid and a giant octopus. The latter was a live creature and special effects expert L.B. Abbott said that a major challenge was keeping the octopus attached to the cone of the submarine Seaview. It kept letting go and falling to the bottom of the water tank. Apparently, live octopi don't follow directions well!
The Seaview gives this octopus a charge!
4. Reap the Wild Wind (1942) - This rubbery squid may not look very real; indeed, there are times when Ray Milland's character seems to be intentionally wrapping a tentacle around his body. That said, it's pretty impressive when a giant squid gets a plum supporting role in a Cecil D. DeMille movie alongside stars like John Wayne and Milland. Also, with the exception of the 1937 "B" movie Sh! The Octopus, it was the biggest part to date for a squid or octopus.

5. Dangerous When Wet (1953) - Sure, the former musical is famous for Esther Williams' animated underwater number with cat Tom and mouse Jerry. However, the same scene also features a singing purple octopus that serenades Esther in "In My Wildest Dreams." (Fernando Lamas provides the voice.)

Honorable MentionsThe Little Mermaid (1989), which boasts a sea witch who is part octopus and Tentacles, an awful 1977 Italian film that gets a mention because its cast includes Henry Fonda, Shelley Winters, and John Huston.


  1. The Cephalopod Society sends a warm embrace to your mention of our members. Eight thumbs up.

    1. Ron, that's got to be one of my all-time favorite comments!

    2. ❤️ Ron, this was the perfect comment!

  2. Disaster movies and monster movies......the Golden Gate Bridge always seems to get it. I wonder if anyone has tried to do a count on the number of times it's been destroyed on screen.

  3. Rick, this has nothing to do with giant underwater creatures, but did you know you also made the Top 30 Classic Movie Blog list? And deservedly so, I might add.

  4. I'm glad "Shh! the Octopus" didn't make your list. That was such a baaaad movie it was actually fun to watch!

  5. "Wake of the Red Witch", John Wayne fights a giant octopus!