The late, great stop-motion pioneer Ray Harryhausen is perhaps best remembered for his mythological movies, including “Jason & the Argonauts,” “Clash of the Titans,” and the “Sinbad” films. However, one of his greatest achievements was the dinosaur film, “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.”
The movie tells the story of a fictional dinosaur, the Rhedosaurus, who attacks New York City after he’s released from hibernation by an atomic bomb. Does that sound remarkably like “Godzilla” (and a thousand other 1950s “monster run amok” movies)? Remember that “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” came out in 1953, making it one of the first of its genre and pre-dating “Godzilla” by a year. So, it would be no exaggeration to say “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” helped inspire a decade’s worth of American movies, and a decade’s worth of Japanese movies.
It’s easy to see why, as “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” is not only one of the first in its sub-genre but one of the best. The final battle in New York is particularly impressive, with all of Harryhausen’s considerable skills on full display; stop-motion animation, rear-screen projection, and realistic miniatures. Many “monster run amok” movies are a dime a dozen, but “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” continues to stand the test of time.