Director: Ovidio G. Assonitis
Writers: Steven Carabatsos, Tito Carpi, Jerome Max
Cast: John Huston, Shelley Winters, Bo Hopkins, Henry Fonda Scream Factory
Rated PG | 100 Minutes
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Directed by Ovidio G. Assonitis (Beyond the Door), 1977’s Tentacles is a Jaws rip-off about a seaside tourist resort under attack by a giant octopus.
John Huston, Shelley Winters, Bo Hopkins, and Henry Fonda are tasked with keeping the massive marine menace from turning their sleepy hamlet into an all-you-can-eat buffet.
It all begins when marine expert Will Gleason (Hopkins) and reporter Ned Turner (Huston) investigate the construction of an underwater tunnel by the Trojan company, owned by Mr. Whitehead (Fonda). Trojan has been using unregulated radio signals, which as we all learned in elementary school, can cause extreme irritability in giant octopi.
In the film’s opening scene, the suction-cupped slayer claims A HUMAN BABY from its bassinet. Clearly director Ovidio G. Assonitis is saying, “Forget about that giant shark and the Kintner boy, this thing has eight arms and zero remorse for babies!” Unfortunately, Tentacles is never as good as its baby-taking opening.
Sure there’s the waterlogged corpse of a peg-legged sailor – an homage to Jaws‘ Ben Gardner – but this maritime massacre simply lacks the right amount of schlock and awe to be anything other than a cheap Italian knockoff. There is, however, a pretty great scene where Bo Hopkins has a heart-to-heart with some killer whales and delivers some of the best dialogue I’ve ever heard:
“I guess you know now why I brought you here. I wanted to tell you more about it, but there have been many people to die – I’ve lost a loved one. I need your help more now than ever. I remember the times when I was training you, people used to call you killers. They used to call me that on the streets – doesn’t mean nothin’. You have more love in your heart, more affection than any human being I’ve ever met. But now I… I can’t ask anybody else. So I’m asking you to help me kill this octopus. I hope you understand that. I know I’m in your environment. I don’t want it this way, but if I release you and you go away, I want you to know I’ll understand. Alright, enough said. I’ve got to go now. If you feel anything, you talk to me. You make some noises. I know people think we’re crazy – maybe we are. Maybe we are.“
Bo Hopkins and his tag-team of killer whales, Summer and Winter, journey off into the deep blue to kick some octopus ass. Actually they rip it to pieces and leave its mangled carcass at the bottom of the sea – living up to the awful stereotype of being killers. But let’s be honest, that giant octopus had it coming – it killed a baby after all.
It ain’t much of a movie, but Tentacles is a fun ride – the predecessor to today’s SyFy Originals like Sharktopus, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, and Piranhaconda. This Jaws rip-off has a great cast and a kick-ass score, but sadly both are squandered on a third-rate sea monster yarn that works better as a killer whale romantic comedy.
Director: Sidney W. Pink
Screenwriter: Ib Melchior, Sidney W. Pink
Cast: Carl Ottosen, Ann Smyrner, Mimi Heinrich Scream Factory
Not Rated | 82 Minutes
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Directed by Sidney W. Pink (The Angry Red Planet), Reptilicus is a weird movie with an even weirder history. The American version was deemed “unreleasable” by American International Pictures and had to be reworked by the film’s Danish-American screenwriter, Ib Melchior, before being released in 1962.
I’d hate to see the “unreleasable” version, because this version is nearly unwatchable. Denmark’s first and only giant monster film, Reptilicus begins with Danish miners working in Lapland, Finland. There they dig up part of a giant prehistoric reptile’s tail in the frozen ground.
The section is flown to the Danish Aquarium in Copenhagen, where it is frozen and preserved for scientific study. But due to the carelessness of Copenhagen’s top scientists, the freezer is left open and the tail begins to thaw… and regenerate. Once fully regenerated, the 90-foot Reptilicus goes on to rampage the Danish countryside.
From the flimsy creature effects to the bad acting and terrible scripting, there isn’t a single thing about Reptilicus worth unearthing. I’m trying to think of a worse giant monster movie, but I’m having a hard time. 1961’s Gorgo comes close – but at least that’s fun to riff on. Even as a lover of giant monsters and a cult film enthusiast, finding enjoyment in Reptilicus is like getting blood out of a stone. In comparison, Reptilicus makes 1985’s Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend look like Jurassic Park.
All things considered, this Scream Factory double feature may be worth a pickup for the insanity that is Tentacles, though MGM’s previous Midnite Movies release offered a better two-pack with Tentacles and Empire of the Ants. Reptilicus, on the other hand, is better left buried in the past. Its inclusion feels more like an obligation than anything else – like Scream Factory didn’t think Tentacles could work as a standalone release.
This is a pretty bare-bones double feature release, with only a few trailers and photo galleries included as bonus materials. In terms of presentation, the transfer on Tentacles looks fantastic, even if the film itself is somewhat cheap. As for Reptilicus, the high-definition transfer highlights the film’s poor production values and creature effects and may actually hurt the already lackluster film more than it helps. Tentacles / Reptilicus is now available on Blu-ray at Amazon.