Tentacles (1977)   Leave a comment

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“A chilling tale of nature gone wild.”

Well, that’s what the trailer says anyway. A really big octopus threatens life on the California coast. A cast of A-listers including John Huston, Henry Fonda, and Shelley Winters tries to make us care. Unfortunately, they can’t and the movie fails on pretty much every level. Presented (whatever that means) by Samuel B. Arkoff, who, starting in the 1950s, produced some fantastic B-movies with James Nicholson and Roger Corman, Tentacles could have soared to the heights of It Conquered the World (1956), A Bucket of Blood (1959), or The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971). Instead, it sank to the depths of that training film they make you watch when you get a job at H & R Block.

The giant octopus wakes up because Henry Fonda’s company, Trojan (yup) is digging holes in the ocean floor and using too much sonar or something. I can’t tell you any more because the film doesn’t see fit to let the audience in on it. Since we never really know what crime the big corporation has committed or much about its impact, we can’t get too involved with the plot. It turns out Fonda didn’t know about it anyway. He asks his VP to make it stop and then we never see them again so that part goes nowhere. We see some dead fish and, of course our eight-legged friend, but other than that, the ocean looks great.

So, Octy kills and sucks the innards out of a bunch of people in a bloodless and boring way and some people we see briefly but don’t really care about go looking for them and get killed and have their innards sucked out. Even the impressive pool of talent in this film can’t salvage it because the writing is just so bad. Poorly written dialogue, undefined characters, inappropriate music, and ham-handed cuts combine to make Tentacles one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. I watched Santa Claus Conquers the Martians recently and at least they tried. I’m not sure what director Ovidio Assonitis had that enticed these stars to act in such a dog. Maybe they owed him money. If I sound mad it’s because this film has the audacity to rip off one of the best films ever made, Jaws, and does it so poorly and so obviously it becomes almost offensive.

As the trailer proclaims, “Tentacles is the most gripping suspense you’ll ever experience.” Yeah, not really.

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