Ocean-themed horror meme

I’ve been tagged with a HalloMeme, and am expected to describe an ocan-themed scary movie. At least this one is easy. I immediately thought of one movie that traumatized me deeply as a child. It was…

It Came From Beneath the Sea.


There’s a wonderful photo essay on the movie if you haven’t already seen it, but I’ll summarize it briefly. It’s a tragedy, and the tagline on the poster lies.

An innocent giant octopus (a curious species with only 6 arms) living deep in the ocean is attacked by humans throwing hydrogen bombs around. Not only is it disturbed, but it is irradiated so severely that its food sources are repelled by it. Frantic, frightened, and hungry, and probably already dying painfully, it visits San Francisco, where it is further attacked by people with guns and flamethrowers. Finally, a submarine fires a torpedo into its head and blows up its brain.

That’s right. It’s an hour and 20 minutes of non-stop octopus torture. They should have called this movie The Passion of the Cephalopod. I cried.

Now I summon forth the marine nightmares from…


  1. says

    An innocent giant octopus (a curious species with only 6 arms)

    Wouldn’t that make it a sexypus?

    Or is that assumed with all octopi anyway?

  2. Jsn says

    There is the very schlocky ’70’s film “Octoman” – with make up, a modified diving suit and foam prosthetics, by a very young Rick Baker of “The Exorcist” and “The Klumps” fame.

    Baker was on a tight budget and specifically asked if the they were going to film the creature’s feet. Of couse he was assured by the director that there would be no close ups below the knees.

    In a pivotal scene you get a great tight shot of the monster’s ankle zippers…

  3. says

    “Orca” scared the hell out of me as a kid – nightmares for weeks. Finally screwed up the courage to watch it again about a decade later, and all I could do is laugh at what a pale rip-off of “Jaws” the thing was.

    My favorite ocean-related horror film would have to be “Shock Waves”, the second-most-famous 1977 film to feature Peter Cushing. Featuring hordes of underwater Nazi Devo Zombies.

  4. Ian H Spedding FCD says

    I remember seeing Kenneth Tobey first in Whirlybirds but he starred in another SF classic The Thing (From Another World).

    He did a good job on the giant octopus in this movie, though.

    Later movies like Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea seemed to go soft on cephalopods, usually contenting themselves with giving them electric shocks when they grab hold of submarines. What we need to see is them blown into handy chunks of calamari.

  5. K. Engels says

    Gojira, the original, sure he spoils it by coming up on land at the end, but the initial attacks are ocean based.

  6. Master Mahan says

    I have to go with The Host. It’s a decidedly odd monster movie, with strong dramatic and satirical elements. A shame we never see the mutated fish in the beginning, though.

    The Abyss is also terrifying, but only for the sharp nosedive James Cameron’s career took.

  7. jeffox backtrollin' says

    @#10 above:

    History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man. . . .


  8. says

    Wow, more Dagon-lovers than I would expect to see. I did dig the film immensely, up until the final ‘conflict’ which seemed a little rushed and silly. I LOVED the fact that the main character ends up making really comical mistakes that are entirely plausible.

    The only film that comes to mind for me is one that always disturbed me as a kid: Matango (aka Attack of the Mushroom People). The DVD just became available about a year ago, and I picked it up but haven’t watched it yet to see if it meets my childhood impressions. You’ve got to like a story about shipwrecked people slowly turning into walking fungi. It’s actually based on a classic story by William Hope Hodgson.

    The Host I found oddly disappointing — I think it failed to meet my expectations after all the hype.

  9. says

    I, too, sing praises of Dagon, particularly of the lovely Macarena Gomez, who the filmmakers smartly had personify Lovecraft’s greatest fear…

    As for The Host, I saw it in the theater with a group of friends and we were all sorely disappointed. I didn’t think any of the South Korean social/political satire made an impression on any of us; we just stared blankly at the screen. And I’ve come to have a deep hatred of CGI; The Host was the final nail in that coffin. I’d rather have the Octaman, or indeed Bruce from Jaws, than another CGI monster…

    “The Host is on my must-see list — unfortunately, we have a very poor selection of movies out here in Morris.”

    Netflix, PZ, Netflix!!!

  10. Kseniya says

    1. Dagon. (Horrific in most of the right ways.)

    2. Jaws. (Damn Spielberg for this.)

    3. Dead Calm. (Not really horror, but it spooked me. I’m impressionable.)

    Wasn’t there a movie sorta like Event Horizon that took place on a ship? A ghost-ship kind of thing?

    I haven’t see Leviathan or that classic Harryhausen (?) thing PZ cited.

  11. says

    #8: “My favorite ocean-related horror film would have to be “Shock Waves”, the second-most-famous 1977 film to feature Peter Cushing.”

    I’m embarrassed to say I had to look up the ‘most famous’ film, at which point I slapped my head and said, “D’Oh!”

    I’m impressed by Cushing, though; 12 years after death he’s still getting film jobs . I would expect no less from such a horror icon.

  12. says

    “I liked finding nemo, that part in the begining w/ the eel was freakin’ scary…”

    Eel, Joe? I think it was a barracuda, but I could be mistaken…

  13. Mankoi says

    I never saw it as a movie (But I know it was one) but I would have to say Sphere. The book terrified me. I also felt sorry for the poor squid.

  14. says

    #19: “Wasn’t there a movie sorta like Event Horizon that took place on a ship? A ghost-ship kind of thing?”

    Actually, you’re probably thinking of Ghost Ship (2002), about a salvage crew who find an abandoned passenger vessel and start being rubbed out by the spirits on board. There was also an earlier film, Death Ship (1980), about shipwreck survivors who find an abandoned vessel and start being rubbed out by the Nazi spirits on board.

    You’ve reminded me of one of my favorites, though: Deep Rising (1998), about a crew of pirates who find an abandoned passenger vessel and start being rubbed out by the slimy monsters on board. Kind of mediocre as far as horror goes, but I find the film (especially the character of Joey) pretty damn funny.

  15. Olorin says

    Not a movie, but a great book: “The Swarm” by Frank Schatzing. Scared me as a child, and it just came out (in English) last year. Starts out as an us-vs-them plot, and turns into us-vs-us. And “Science” says that the marine biology is accurate.

  16. noncarborundum says

    I nominate the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. The part with David Hasselhoff is especially horrible.

    What’s that? You’re not looking for ocean-themed horrible movies? Oh. Never mind.

  17. Bride of Shrek says

    I nominate Deep Blue Sea…for the sheer improbability factor of Mako sharks, being of genetically manipulated massive size, being also able to apparently swim through door openings that humans barely fit through. Very octopus like if you ask me.

  18. Tulse says

    The Call of Cthulhu film is excellent, and definitely involves ocean, tentacles, and horror. It’s shot as if it were done in Lovecraft’s day, as a silent movie, and that works brilliantly. It’s available on DVD from the link above, and I highly recommend it.

  19. Sam says

    The Deep, 1977. Based on another Benchley work, it’s apparently quite good in movie terms. I, however, was very young when I saw it and only recall a scene where someone is trapped by a rock and running out of of air – which prevented me from having a bath for quite a while. The fact that Jacqueline Bisset was in it and I failed to notice suggests I was very young indeed at the time

  20. David Harmon says

    Sam: I was also youthfully traumatized by The Deep, but it wan’t any of the watery stuff, it was them cutting up some nubile victim’s body. I was definitely too young for that one….

    On a lighter note, yesterday’s “User Friendly” offers a more jaundiced view of “tentacle sex”…. ;-) (Verbally NSFW)

  21. bernarda says

    The time travel movie “A Sound of Thunder” has a nice sea monster eating people. It also has the slogan “Evolve or Die”.

    There is a tv episode too, but without the sea creature.

    Change one thing in the past and you change the present.

  22. windy says

    Nah, I always thought “The Abyss” was pretty cool.

    I once had to be treated in a hyperbaric chamber after diving, and they were showing movies through the tiny window to pass the time. The first movie was The Abyss. A hilarious choice for the situation. :)

  23. says

    One of my favorite ocean-themed horror flicks is Deep Star Six, even though I was only once able to find it at a local video store. It might not be as well known as some of the others on this thread, but if you can find it it’s definitely worth a look.

    Alligator made the biggest impression on me growing up, though, especially the scenes where the kid is thrown into the swimming pool (if you’ve seen it, you know what I mean) and when the “Great White Hunter” gets chomped in the alley. The Host is another must, although I don’t see why Universal feels like they need to make an American version of the film that probably won’t be half as good as the original.

  24. MLH says

    The original Japanese “Godzilla”, actually entitled “Gojira”. It’s suspenseful and the score is really first-rate. Now out on DVD along with the American release that starred Raymond Burr.

  25. Tom Buckner says

    I commented somewhere before about something that was on the teevee when I was no more than ten (i.e. before 1968). Dunno if it was a movie or a show. Deep-sea divers were being menaced by a talking octopus that was able to shoot lightning out of a tentacle and fried one of the men to a skeleton. I was so terrified I begged my mother to change the channel, turn off the television, do SOMETHING. And this was in broad daylight.

    Here’s a good one: Roger Corman’s “Creature From The Haunted Sea”, a comedy Black Lagoon ripoff: http://www.kensforce.com/Creature_From_The_Haunted_Sea_1961.html

    I’m pretty sure the Haunted Sea creature is visible in the opening credits for “Malcolm In The Middle.”

  26. noncarborundum says

    Tom, I think I saw that movie (or whatever it was) too. My family was on trip and had stopped at a motel, and I wasn’t feeling well so when the rest of the family went off to eat, I stayed in bed and watched what was on TV. It turned out to be something so terrifying that I had to leap out of bed and shut it off. I don’t know what it was, and I’ve never seen it again, but it sounds like it could have been the same thing you describe (I remember deep sea divers and an octopus, but not tentacles shooting lightning). I was watching the comments here to see if anyone would mention it, so I could find out what it was.

    The only other TV show I remember that had that effect on me was the Bill-Shatner-turns-into-a-Venusian episode of The Outer LImits. Not only did I have to turn that one off in the middle (at the exact scariest moment, I later discovered when I rented that episode on video; it’s all sort of anticlimactic thereafter), but it gave me dreadful nightmares.