PICTURE OF THE DAY: THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953)
This image is from the lighthouse scene in THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953), the classic giant monster movie with special effects by Ray Harryhausen. For my money, this is one of the scarier giant monster movies from the 1950s, and this scene is particularly frightening.
It’s nighttime, and the beast crawls out of the ocean and approaches the lighthouse. The folks inside hear a strange noise— I remember as kid watching this on TV thinking, Get out of there! Get out of there now! They look out the window and see the massive beast staring at them. It then proceeds to attack the lighthouse.
I grew up close to the ocean, so this scene has always creeped me out, as I used to imagine the Beast crawling out of the ocean at night. Shivers!
THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953) is significant because it was Ray Harryhausen’s first solo feature film effort, the first film where the special animation effects were created solely by Harryhausen. Previously, in MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949), he had worked under the guidance of his mentor, KING KONG creator Willis O’Brien.
It was also the first major “giant monster” movie since KING KONG (1933), as it pre-dated GODZILLA (1954) by a year, and it’s said to have been one of the major influences behind the making of GODZILLA, released in the United States in 1956 as GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS!
THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953) is one of my favorite Ray Harryhausen films, and features many memorable images, including the beast’s first appearance in the snowy Arctic, the devouring of the police officer on the streets of New York City, the exciting climax at the Coney Island roller coaster, and this frightening image of the beast about to attack the lighthouse.
It’s based on the story “The Fog Horn” by Ray Bradbury, who was a close friend of Harryhausen’s.