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Octaman

     "How can I accept a creature with arms like an octopus, but who walks like a man?"

-- Rick, whose fault all of this is.    

 

     

Reviews:

Gonzoid Cinema

 

 

Buzzkillers!

"Hey Rick, are you sure we shouldn't at least tie the net down or something?"

"Nah, what could possibly go wrong."

GAH! I HATE THIS STUPID @#%* MOVIE

 

Watch it!

AMAZON

DVD

 
 
Sights &
Sounds:
Octaman
(1971)
 Director:
  Harry Essex
 Screenplay:
  Harry Essex
 Producer:
  Harry Essex
  Michael Kraike
 Heritage
 Enterprises Inc.

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Gentle reader, we, the editors of 3B Theater, believe that it would be prudent at this juncture to warn you that the following review is chock full of bitter and nasty venom. You see, this particular film shook the reviewer to his very foundation and brought into question his beliefs and philosophies on bad film. 

In other words, He really hates this movie.

Our washed out piece-o-crap...

Told ya!

You shut up. (I hate that guy.) Where were we? Oh, yes:

Our washed out piece-o-crap begins south of the border, where a bunch of tree hugging eco-terrorists are performing some "ecological study" on the environmental impact of radiation fallout from all the nuclear bomb tests. 

First, they find a mutated Octopus monster. Then, they all walked around in a big circle. Then, an octopus monster shook his tentacles. Then, the scientists sat around. Then, they all walked around in a big circle. Then, the octopus monster shook his tentacles. Then, the scientists sat around. Then, they all walked around in a big circle. 

Then, they went into a cave. 

Then, the octopus monster died. 

And there was much rejoicing.

The End

This movie sucks ass.

Gentle reader, we, the editors of 3B Theater, would like to apologize for those first few paragraphs. The writer is now in the process of an attitude adjustment via a two-by-four. Did we mention he hates this movie?

Well be right back. 

 *whack* *whack* *whack* *whack* *THUNK*

Okay; let's try this again.

We begin south of the border in Mexico, where a group of scientists are investigating the environmental impact of radiation fallout from all the Pacific nuclear bomb tests. Alas, the results of the blood tests performed on the locals aren't very good; seems they're all contaminated due to their main dietary staple of irradiated fish. And while Rick Torres (Kerwin Matthews), the leader of the expedition, rants about the plight of these simple villagers, Mort (David Essex), his assistant, collects more water samples and makes a startling discovery: on the waters edge, he finds a baby octopus-thingy, squealing like a stuck pig. How do we know its a baby? Easy. Weve already seen the adult version wiggling around during the opening credits ... When Mort shows his find to Rick and his gal pal, Susan Lowry (Pier Angeli), she comments on how it appears to "Have a brain behind its eyes." Postulating that it must be a hybrid, or a mutation of some kind, Rick asks to see where it was found. Returning to the marsh, the group promptly release it, and as the creature squeals louder and louder, Susan ominously points out that it appears to be calling out for something -- he typed ominously.

Off in the distance, we see Octaman (-- a rather spiffy monster-suit by Rick Baker that is completely wasted in this film --) watching them through the brush, and already he seems to be smitten with Susan. Declaring it the scientific find of the century, they recapture the little rubbery booger and haul him back to their camp and store him in a handy bucket. And since this new species and its natural environment demands further study, but being out of money, Rick and Susan head back to civilization with their new find to dig up some funding, leaving Mort with Victim #1 and Victim #2 behind to watch the camp. Sure enough, later that night, Victim #1 has found another baby Octaman, and as he prepares to dissect it in the name of science, Daddy/Mommy? Octaman comes to the rescue and bitch slaps Victim #1 to death, scoops up it's baby, and returns to the marsh...

When I first cooked-up the Rating System for this website, I promised myself that it would take a real turd-burger to be branded with the first 18th Amendment. Now, I love my monster movies, and the worse they are by normal standards, the better they are in my book. And normally, I would ferociously defend any film in this genre, but once in a while, I'd get a curveball; a nasty surprise that brings my philosophy on such things to its knees, sending me into a fetal position -- with thumb planted firmly in mouth -- to rethink things for a while.

Octaman is, was, and probably ever shall be thee biggest, knee-buckling curve Ive ever encountered or endured -- topping even the likes of The Howling VII: New Moon Rising -- or, as I like to refer to it, Howling VII: No Werewolf in Sight - Honky-Tonk Armageddon, and this film shall be the litmus test for all 18th Amendment films to follow.

Im not exactly sure what writer/director Harry Essex was trying to accomplish here. Earlier in his career, he had a hand in a couple of genre classics, It Came from Outer Space and The Creature From the Black Lagoon, meaning at one point he seemed to know what he was doing. Maybe he thought he could do better than Jack Arnold? Either way, Octaman is such a blatant rehash, almost verbatim in some scenes, of The Creature From the Black Lagoon, but executed so poorly, one has to wonder just exactly what his thinking behind this was. I could have phrased that differently, and asked what the logic behind this unofficial remake could be, but honestly, I have a hard time using the word Octaman and logic in the same sentence. Don't believe me? Read on...

Taking the hybrid mutation to the Ecological Institute, Rick seeks to consult with Dr. Willard (Jeff Morrow). Certain hes discovered a dynamic shift in the evolutionary paradigm, Rick wants the Institute's backing to prove it. But Willard quickly squashes the whole notion, saying there are far more important things endangering the environment to throw money at than studying a half-man/half-octopus ... With no luck in academia, Rick turns to Johnny Caruso: philanthropist, rancher and circus owner, who, seeing a lot of potential money to be made with a new sideshow attraction, agrees to bankroll the expedition. Rounding up his top wrangler, Steve (Buck Kartalain), to help capture any more, and hopefully bigger, beasties, the gathered expedition all hop into Caruso's RV and head back to Ricks base camp.

Upon arrival, they quickly find the mangled body of Victim #1, but Mort and Victim #2 are nowhere to be found. While the men tend to the body, Susan is mysteriously drawn to the marsh by a strange, high-pitched music, and as it crescendos and assaults our eardrums, we cut from a close-up of Susan's eyes to Octo's in rapid succession, and soon she's completely enthralled and edges closer to the water until Rick's timely arrival snaps her out of it before she takes the eternal plunge.

Later, we find out that Mort and Victim #2 were at the local village for a fiesta when they return with the towns police chief, Victim #4, and Davido -- the local expert on the legend of the Octaman. Wowing them with tales his grandma told him about the legendary half-man/ half-serpent monster (-- complete with drawings, I might add), Davido then relates how his father was killed by el Hombre de Ocho. Seems the monster turned his father into an unfortunate looking dummy and threw him off a cliff. The young native also claims that he can lead them to Octamans home.

Why bother?!? The damn thing is right over there! See! Hes looking right at you! Aarrgghh!!

Though the Jef and Victim #4 make fun of the superstitious Davido and his old folktales, Rick believes him. As they start to break camp for the night, when the Jef asks for some water for their long walk back, he accidentally takes the container with another baby Octaman in it. (And when the hell did they catch that one?!) With Davido navigating, the RV takes off, leaving us with the Jef and Victim #4 and a long and protracted stalk and kill sequence as the Octaman waits until they get all the way home before pouncing on them, and we got to watch. Every. Single. Stinking. Step. They. Took. Along. The. Way.

Okay, at this point, I found myself giggling like an idiot -- but not at the plot; I had finally realized that the film's electronic soundtrack sounds just like the theme for the old Asteroids arcade game. Swear to god. Now back to the review.

When our expedition arrives at what looks like the very same spot they just left, they set up camp, and while they do, Mort and Steve get into a deep philosophical discussion about God and creation. Seems Mort thinks were all just a bunch of mistakes in progress. (Just like this movie!) Meanwhile, Octaman is still a stones throw away, wiggling his tentacles. (Hes right over there, damn it!) And as the discussion turns toward the mutations and deformities in Japan brought on by the A-bomb, Susan is once more entranced by the call of nature and wanders off again, and the closer she gets to the water's edge, the high-pitched wailing and jump-cuts start firing off in rapid succession again. Only this time, the others have followed her. Seeing shes entranced, when Rick asks what it is shes hearing, the girl replies its some kind of whispering that she cant tune out, and Susan also admits to feeling like shes constantly being watched.

You are! Hes right there! Open your damn eyes! He just turned that alligator into an unfortunate looking dummy and killed it. How could you miss that?! GAH! Okay ... focus; find a happy place. *sigh* Let's continue.

Meanwhile, having found yet another baby critter, Davido brings it back to the camp. Certain hes found the nest, Rick and Mort follow him back to take a closer look. Left behind, Susan and Caruso argue over the semantics between dissection and autopsy until he starts losing and drops the "women belong in the kitchen" bomb on her. Fed up with Mr. Misanthrope, when Susan leaves to go and find Rick, Steve, whose also smitten, goes after her, leaving Caruso and Victim #2 to fend for themselves when Octaman wiggles into camp and opens a can of eight-legged whup-ass. After killing Caruso and Victim #2, the creature gathers up junior and shambles off.

All right! Five more and this film can be put out of its misery! Octaman! Octaman! Goooooo Octaman!

When the others return, they find Caruso isnt quite dead yet (Damn!) and their new specimen gone. Claiming it was a giant monster that attacked him and killed the others, Caruso is left in the RV under Susan's care while the others go hunt for the creature. Seemingly safe inside, the two continue their earlier fight over women's lib, unaware that Octaman has circled back and is closing in. Again, Caruso manages to really piss Susan off, but this time, when she tries to leave, she runs right into the waiting tentacles of Octaman. Susan does manage to get away and get clear before Caruso starts shooting at it, who proves a crack-shot, driving the monster back into the marsh empty-tentacled. Hearing the firefight, the others come rushing back too late. Scared shitless, Caruso thinks they need to get out while they still can, but hes outvoted as the others want to take one more crack at capturing the beast. 

You know, Id love to give the film some originality points for this because the moneyman wants to get out first, but dont hold your breath.

I'm not exactly sure what the plan is when Rick, Mort, and Steve hop in a boat and putter out into the marsh, but Octaman promptly attacks them. In the ensuing mle, Steve manages to whack off one of it's tentacles but not before Mort is severely injured. Back in the camp, Davido hears the commotion and goes to investigate, leaving our favorite bickering couple alone again. Luckily, Octaman -- whose amazing regenerative powers have grown him a new tentacle already! -- attacks the camp and knocks Caruso around again. But Susan comes to the rescue by throwing a lit lantern at it, and when it breaks open, noe on fire, the monster warbles in pain. Back on the boat, the men find Davido waiting on shore before Rick leads the charge back to the campsite, where that huge fire has magically put itself out (-- actually, theres absolutely no trace of it --) and el Hombre de Ocho has gathered an unconscious Susan in his tentacles and shambles off. When Rick and Steve give chase, they discover that the monster doesnt like having a flashlight shined in his eyes. With that, Rick tells Steve to keep distracting it in that fashion because hes got an idea:

 

And with that brilliant scene, my notes were launched into the air. And as the papers and pen rained backed down, I started cackling like an idiot, threw up the white flag and officially surrendered. Pilot to bombardier. Pilot to bombardier, the movie is now yours. Continue the review at your own risk.

Rick's absolutely MacGuyveresque plan works as el Octo is quickly dehydrated, and after deftly jumping through the *snicker* intense blaze he saves Susan. He must have held his breath. I mean, theres no oxygen left in there, right? Hee-hee. When the fire dies out, they quickly drop a net over the prostate monster. (Do they secure the net? Hell no. That would make sense. What do you think?) Using tranquilizers to keep the creature quiet, Caruso (-- nope, hes still not dead --) wants to load him up and head for home but hes outvoted again (-- I demand a recount!) because the others want to make a study of its natural habitat first. And then the rains came, causing a delay in any further action. *sigh* Later that night, since he's snoozing on guard duty, Susan gently wakes Mort up and they start going through the whole Beauty and the Beast scenario.

It was at this point where the film gave me a bad case of dj vu as it's the exact same scene that Julie Adams and Whit Bissel had in The Creature from the Black Lagoon. And then I took a closer look at the credits and found out why.

Meanwhile, Guess who the rains have revived? Right. And after Octaman easily throws off the net, he attacks and pummels Mort; but Susan, using her feminine wiles, distracts him until he shambles off. When the others investigate the commotion, Caruso reiterates his desire to leave, and the others might be leaning that way, too, until Davido ruins our chances by saying he can lead them to Octo's hidden lair. 

What hidden lair?! Look! Hes right over there!

So once more, they pile into the RV and head further into the wilderness, leaving us with the question as to why Davido didn't take them to this damn secret lair in the first place! Rounding a blind corner, the troop finds the road is blocked by a bunch of trees. (Sound familiar?) And while the others try to clear the obstruction, Davido finds some Octaman tracks that lead into a cave. He calls the others over and they decide to explore it...

...Six years later, they emerge, right where they started. What did they find in there? NOTHING! Not one damned blessed thing. More on this later. 

Damn, but this movie has got a lot of explaining to do.

Returning to the RV, when Caruso opens the door, guess whos inside waiting for them? (How in the heck did he get in there?!) Octaman jumps out, and using a flying pinwheel maneuver, attack with all his arms, knocking everybody out except Susan (-- and this time, I think he really did kill Caruso but I cant confirm it.) But she manages to get a hold of Steves pistol before the monster wraps her up again and carries her off toward the waiting marsh. When the others recover and give chase, Rick wont let Steve shoot at it because he might hit Susan. They do cut the monster off from the water and are stalemated until Susan wakes up and shoots Octaman, point blank, in the chest. When he drops her, the others open fire, and after taking several hits, the Octaman stumbles into the water and disappears, leaving the others to watch as the surfacing bubbles quickly peter out.

The End

THANK GOD.

The esteemed Dr. Freex had warned us all over at The Bad Movie Report, where he states that the film caught him off guard, too, and should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention. I did a little research into this, and would you believe it, stuck in the middle of the treatise on the ban of chemical weapons and the regs on what to do with a deposed dictator, is a warning, scrawled in crayon, to avoid Octaman at all costs.

But I, being the idiot that I am, thought How bad could it really be?

Well, to start with, this film is the looooongest 90-minutes youll ever have the non-privilege of enduring, and it took me three Herculean attempts just to get through the damn thing. Id make it about a half an hour in before things would start to get a little, well -- fuzzy ... And Id snap out of this funk only when the snow and static on the TV brought me back to this plane of reality -- luckily for me, after the auto-rewind finished it's task, my VCR would regurgitate the tape, begging for mercy, or I might still be in a permanent stupor. Of course, I tried to fast forward to where I lost it by consulting my notes. They too started out crisp and clear but slowly degenerated and lost cohesion; there were even a few death threats that my subconscious left for me among the doodles for subjecting it to El Hombre de Ocho. So having no clue where I left off, being the idiot that I am, I just started over. THREE TIMES!

Now, you might think Im exaggerating but Ive never seen a film that took so many meandering scenes and sequences and mindlessly slammed them into brick walls the way Octaman did. Also, in my long and storied career in fringe cinema have I ever witnessed worse day for night shooting than what can be found between the credits, here. And then there was the psychic link between Susan and Octo that is suggested but never studied, verified or explained but played a pivotal role in the film. I mean, Is the Octaman a Mommy or Daddy? If she's a mommy, that unearths a whole other strata of psychosis when thinking about it's relationship with Susan. Wow. A lesbian monster. The mind boggles.

Also of dubious note, the "Caucasian Monster Immunity Clause" got a little old as only the local natives are killed. Johnny, Mort, and Rick are slapped around a lot, and even presumed dead a couple times, but always manage to survive. (Okay, I think Caruso is killed at the end, but still. Sheesh.)

And then theres that whole cave thing where they wandered around for what seemed like a year -- in truth, fourteen minutes of actual screen time where absolutely nothing happens. They go into a cave. They walk around. They come out of the cave. That's it. And that's not an exaggeration. It doesnt advance the plot one iota; its just there to pad the film and drive the viewer deeper into insanity. The thing is, before that cave scene came calling, you could almost smell that the film was about to end. (Hell, then again, I thought it was almost over when they burned him in the circle of fire.) And I can't stress enough how much you reeeeally want it to end at this point. And yet there they go, off on one more tangent, right into that cave, where nothing happens and they end up right back where they started. Again! This all could be forgiven if maybe the cave led to Octos hidden lair, but no. And this repeating motif of circling sequences to nowhere had me wanting to claw my eyes out long before the movie was over, as Octaman commits the greatest sin any movie can make by being extremely boring. Stupid I can forgive, but boring ain't gonna cut it. Sorry.

Now, I cant stop you from watching Octaman. Heck, I had to satisfy my own morbid curiosity, but, and not to sound too cheezy, be careful of what you go dabbling in. You may not like what you find.

Youve been warned. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go and put my crayons away.

Originally Posted: 11/19/00 :: Rehashed: 04/20/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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