Blu-ray Review: Tentacles/Reptilicus

The creature double feature ruled Saturday afternoons in Boston. Nothing was more enjoyable than getting two humongous animals terrorizing a disbelieving world. There are basically two types of monsters that cause jumbo mayhem. Those that destroy on land and those that attack from the sea. We could probably go on for hours about how the major literary influences come from Moby Dick and Beowulf. But as it’s quickly learned in the world of filmmaking that nobody has time to read a book. In the case of Tentacles & Reptilicus, their creative forces were spawned from scanning the box office takes for Jaws and Godzilla. What these movie lack in originality, they provide more than ample viewing pleasure with pure weirdness.

Ever notice that the cast of a SyFy monster movie is full of actors who hadn’t quite made it. They have a name value from their time on a network drama or sitcom in the ’90s. But they don’t have an award winning career and a lifelong reputation of quality. Sharnado 12: Chomping Cleveland won’t feature too many people who have been honored on Oscar night. Yet in 1977, three Oscar winners and plenty of other established actors appeared in a film that promised to keep you further away from the water than Jaws. Tentacles (1977 – 102 minutes) brings together Henry Fonda (On Golden Pond), Shelley Winters (Lolita) and John Huston (The Maltese Falcon) in an Italian production shot in America. So you know none of the actors took this gig for a free vacation in Roma. There are a few intimate moments between Fonda and Winters that makes it seem like they were in a movie that wasn’t about a killer octopus attacking their beach town. Why did they do this film? Perhaps they said yes to the project when they realized Claude Akins (Sheriff Lobo) was going to be the sheriff investigating the killer octopus that’s terrorizing the seaside community on the verge of tourist season. Even better is the arrival of Bo Hopkins (The Man Who Wasn’t Jerry Reed even though he starred in White Lightning with Burt Reynolds) as the marine biologist who just might save the day. His solution is a battle between the octopus and two killer whales. This is like a double dose of Orca.

The one thing the film didn’t rip off from Jaws is John Williams’ score. There is so little emotion in the mood music. A baby gets dragged to a water death and we’re given a harpsicord solo that sounds like touchtone dialing a phone number for John Williams’ agent. If you need a film composition project, try creating a proper soundtrack for Tentacles. The film remains a hoot including the fact that the following year Jaws 2 shared a major jeopardy scene.

Reptilicus (81 minutes) is the greatest giant monster movie made in Denmark during 1962. The simple premise is the classic concept of men digging a strange creature that was frozen deep within the earth. The beast ends up defrosting and terrorizes the community. Finally a genius comes along and figures out how to save humanity from total destruction. The film is odd since producer Sidney Pink had to remake part of the film to make it work for American International Pictures. There’s sweet footage of nightlife in Copenhagen before everything gets smashed.

The big monster is rather comedic. It appears to have been created by Gerry Anderson with it’s dragon feel. It’s rather jerky when it attacks. The best is when it attacks the kids on the beach. Strangely enough, having a giant monster attack Frankie and Annette was never an element in any of AIP’s Beach Party flicks. Reptilicus is tasty Danish cinematic cookie. They did their best to prove they deserved to be smashed by a mutant monster as much as Tokyo and San Francisco.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic for Tentacles and 1.78:1 anamorphic for Reptilicus. Both looks amazing with the 1080p transfers. You’ll find the Reptilicus monster a bit more humorous. The audio is DTS-MA Mono which is nice although neither film is a sound mix masterpiece. Both movies are subtitled.

Theatical Trailer (1:58) makes you think this is Jaws with 8 arms.

Photo Gallery (2:01) has lots of folks wrapped up in the star’s grip.

Radio Spot (0:58) lures you away from the beach into the safety of a movie theater.

Theatrical Trailer (1:58) shows the mystery of the reptile beast. The bikini footage is great.

Photo Gallery (2:41) has various promo pics from the set.

Radio Spot (1:00) goes heavy on the echo chamber to get you to the drive in.

Tentacles & Reptilicus is a creature double feature with monsters cashing in on the genre.

Scream Factory presents Tentacles & Reptilicus. Directed by: Ovidio G. Assonitis & Sidney Pink. Starring: Henry Fonda, Shelley Winters and Claude Akins. Rated: PG. Boxset Contents: 2 movies on 1 Blu-ray. Released: June 16, 2015.

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