Saturday, January 18, 2014

Monster From the Ocean Floor, Before There was Selene or Alice or Eden, there was Julie...

Over the past 30 years, strong and heroic female characters have dominated in movies.  Kate Beckinsale's Selene (Underworld), Milla Jovovich's Alice (Resident Evil) and Rhona Mitra's Major Eden Sinclair (Doomsday) have filled the void left by the extinction of masculine males in film.  Need a monster or fiend killed?  Call one of those ladies.  However, this new trend may have had its genesis in a 1954 Roger Corman flick "Monster From the Ocean Floor."  On the surface this movie appears to be a cheap and routine sea monster fable, but with just a small amount of digging, Anne Kimbell's portrayal of a young "industrial illustrator" (she draws washing machines for catalogs) who vacations in Mexico to paint seascapes, may have been the precursor to our recent heroines.
 The plot:  Julie Blair (Kimbell) is painting on the beach while chatting with a young boy.  The boy tells her of a sea monster who ate his father.  Our pretty little artist then thinks what every pretty little artist thinks, "I am gonna kill that thing without the help of a man!"  What a gal!  Then of course she goes for a swim in the cursed cove only to collide with the above pictured submarine and it's flirtatious pilot Stuart (Steve Dunning).  He does not believe the sea monster story and is more interested in his one-man sub.  They fall in love and Steve urges her not to worry "her pretty little chin" over non-existent creatures.  She ignores his advice and interviews eye-witnesses, talks to widows of victims, studies both tracks in the sand and moon cycles.  With all the intelligence she gathers, she heads into the surf with a scuba tank and dagger to save Mexico.  The Mexicans aren't impressed and try to sabotage her, believing sacrificing a "fair one" to the monster will send the thing away.  As Stuart studies idiocy through a microscope, Julie fights off a shark and finds the one eyed creature (get your minds out of the gutter).
  Julie or the creature, which will prevail?  Will Stuart find manhood through watching Julie?  Will the illustrations in the Sears catalog ever be the same?  There was no vacuum of masculine heroes in film in 1954, making Kimbell's performance remarkable.  Enjoy this B Movie, and give yourself permission to watch it over any of the so very lacking movies which were just nominated for best picture.

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