The first of the "atomic monster" flicks (which reached their apex of popularity with the globally successful Godzilla), The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms lays the groundwork for many of the films that followed in its wake. There's the hero with an incredible story that finds few takers, the atomic explosion that causes a gigantic mutation, the wanton destruction of a significant portion of a city and, of course, the female laboratory assistant that ends up as the hero's true love. It's been done countless times, and so Beast isn't as fresh as it was in 1953; but the film still has an air of simplicity and innocence about its plotting that is rather beguiling. It's all nonsense, of course, but it good clean fun nonsense, and it still is quite engaging. The legendary Ray Harryhausen cut his solo teeth on Beast and while audience used to computer-generated special effects will find them a bit less than realistic, they still make an impact. They also are surprisingly dramatic, one of Harryhausen's strong points: his monsters may lumber, but they lumber in individual ways, with twitches or pauses or small twists that give them a sense of genuine behavior and character. As the hero, Paul Christian is fine, if unspectacular, and the same can be said of Paula Raymond as his paramour. But Kenneth Tobey is solid, and Lee Van Cleef and, especially, Cecil Kellaway, quite good.
by Craig Butler review