The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms

Year: 1953
Cast: Paul Christian as Prof. Tom Nesbitt
Paula Raymond as Dr. Lee Hunter
Cecil Kellway as Dr. Thurgood Elson
Kenneth Tobey as Col. Jack Evans
Lee Van Cleef as Corporal Stone
Length: BW- 80 minutes
Budget: $210,000
Director: Eugene Lourie
Cinematography: Jack Russell
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Gross revenue: $5,000,000

Interesting Tidbits

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms is one of my all-time favorite monster/sci-fi movie. The stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen is fantastic.

The story is based on the article The Fog Horn by Ray Bradbury and published in the saturday Evening Post. The movie credits says the following "suggested by a story by Ray Bradbury."

Character actor Lee Van Cleef has a small role in the movie. He played a military sharpshooter who fires the radioactive isotope into the beast to kill it.

Kenneth tobeyAnother great character actor who plays a role is Kenneth Tobey. He starred in two other notable sci-fi movies, The Thing From Another World and It Came From Beneath the Sea.

Ray Harryhausen originally wanted Max Steiner to do the score. He liked his music for King Kong. Though under contract to Warner Brothers, Steiner had too many other commitments. In a way that was good because the score by David Buttolph was excellent. It really set the mood and helped create a scary and suspenseful atmosphere.

The dinosaur drawings that Paul Christian goes through to identify the beast that he saw in the Arctic were by artist Charles Robert Knight (1874 - 1953.) Knight was interested in nature and animals - epecially prehistoric animals.

The beast is called a Rhedosaurus. It is not a true dinosaur, and was designed purely by the outstanding imagination of Ray Harryhausen

No dinosaur ever possessed semi-sprawling legs. And he was portrayed as a quadrupedal predator, unlike any true theropod.


In a project known as Operation experiment, an atomic explosion is set off in the Arctic. The blast frees the beast who presumably had been frozen alive for thousands of years.

The resurrected monster is seen by Prof. Nesbitt who barely escapes with his life. He is flown to a hospital in New York City to be treated for his injuries.

In the meantime, the beast somehow makes its way to New York following the Eastern seaboard. Along the way he destroys a fishing boat somewhere in the Grand Banks and another near Marquette, Canada. It wreaks a lighthouse in Maine and destroys buildings in Massachusetts.

Ending up in New York, the beast goes on a rampage and kills 180 people. One particularly dramatic scene shows the monster picking up a policeman by his head and killing him.

Convention military weapons though wounding the monster, cannot seem to stop it. Compounding the problem is that the beast carries a contagious disease which infects everyone who comes into contact with its blood.

Because of the disease, Prof. Nesbitt says that the monster cannot be blown up or burned up. The air would carry diseased particles all over. He then comes up with the idea of shooting it with a radioactive isotope.

The beast is trapped in Coney Island where sharpshooter Lee Van Cleef shoots the isotope into an open wound in the beast's neck. He finally dies in one bone chilling scream of agony.