From the moment that a certain famous giant green lizard was spawned by atomic radiation in a 1954 Japanese film everyone knows that the only worthwhile use of Nuclear energy (in sci-fi film) is to create “unintentional” walking mutations that say “Bort” while aimlessly shambling about and killing meddlesome humans. In America we like our green atomic movie reptiles man sized (to better grapple with hapless females onscreen) and as such The Creature of The Black Lagoon achieved world fame, three movies and is generally considered to be the 4th most popular “Universal Monster” of all time. Well as the world of B movies teaches us, for every good idea there are a hundred films that mock and copy it some twenty years after the hey-dey of the original, and OCTAMAN is just such a film, a story of another atomic “Gill Man” that makes up for his lack of originality, top notch underwater photography and exquisite creature design of the original film by including a monster with four superfluous arms flapping about. Much as the scientists in this film, let us study this Octaman for ourselves and try and discover how such a prehistoric monster can emerge from a polluted waterway, or perhaps more importantly, let’s figure out why this was pressed to DVD in the first place and not allowed to fall into “extinction” like so many better films before it.
At the start of the film Scientists led by Dr Rick Torres are studying the pools of radioactivity that are forming somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico after years of Atomic Pollution. Not only is it an ecological nightmare but apparently it has caused an infestation of small, screaming rubber land dwelling octopi who are dragged across the ground with strands of visible fishing line. Oh, the horror!
Of course, just as most movie scientists are responsible for pursing the good of mankind (and explaining; somehow validating the goofiest monster film premises possible) Rick’s partners capture a few of the strange mutated specimens and take them to a lab for study and dissection. Soon after the lab is ravaged and everyone is murdered by the thing depicted on the cover art above. Normally I wouldn’t be so glib about the murder of stock characters in a film that we haven’t been given time to meet, know or care about, but the character of Octaman himself breaks the tradition of every 1950’s style monster movie and is depicted, in great detail as it kills its human victims from the start of the film. Normally the initial attacks of a classic movie monster are depicted in shadow, silhouette or depicted by artful misdirection until the end of the film. Here what we get is the full screen depiction of a rubber latex suited titular heavy who looks like a cross between Sid and Marty Kroft’s “Sigmund The Sea Monster” and the live action reimagining of an anonymous tentacle sex demon from a Japanese Hentai….(or so I have been told).
Yet it seems the problems for Dr Torres are only beginning, not only have several of his esteemed, distinguished colleagues been tragically bitch slapped to death by the rubbery arms of a Power Ranger villain of the week, but his funding is soon cut off by the University that has been funding him. Luckily he soon meets a Texas man who is intrigued by the murderous thing known as Octaman and wishes to capture it alive so he can put it on display in one of the theme parks he owns. Why not? This exact plan worked for the Creature of the Black Lagoon, at least for a half an hour or so…
They soon hire a guide and track the Octaman with using an ordinary a Motor home as a mobile base. Using his sly, slow, flamboyantly spastic movements and his hyper-developed fish intelligence the Octaman kills a good many of the research team. I can’t say that this PG rated film was as painful as trying to watch CREATURE OF THE BLACK LAGOON while being slowly beaten to death with a rubber hose, but such a mad hyperbolic fate is not dissimilar to the actual “kill scenes” of the film itself which are visually insane if not the living literal epitome of “slap happy”. Eventually the scientists successfully capture Octaman using a sneaky trick inspired by all marine science and a certain Johnny Cash song, they circle him in a ring of fire which steals away his oxygen and he collapses.
Predictably, Octaman eventually escapes again and kidnaps Susan Lowry (played by real life aspiring starlet Pier Angeli, who ended her life shortly after shooting this film). As a final act we learn that Octaman’s biggest Achilles Heel is not Fire, (like Frankenstein) or Love (like King Kong) but being shot about 100 times (just like you or I). Rest in peace Octaman, (and by that I mean please don’t inspire a sequel).
While researching this film I found out it had an interesting pedigree. This was the first feature length film by Rick Baker, an Oscar winning special effect master who was responsible for cinematic beasties dating from the first Star Wars to the initial X Men film. It was also written and directed by Harry Essex, none other than the Co-writer of the original “CREATURE OF THE BLACK LAGOON” for Universal Studios. Impressive, but years later this murky DVD print of the movie itself is only enjoyed by audiences of snide, sci-fi fans to watch with a room of dear friends and mercilessly crack wise upon. The basic plot, premise and presentation of this film create an “entertainment abyss”: a hole so big that Octaman himself could walk through it and not ensnare the fishing line controlling any of his latex tendrils flailing stupidly about.
Extra features include a collection of other Cheezy Flicks Trailers.