Comments Off on Tentacles
This is the case with the 1977 Italian-made Jaws homage, Tentacles. The special appearance is by Hollywood legend Henry Fonda (he musta needed a new water heater)—but the who’s who doesn’t stop there. John Huston plays some kind of aging reporter who had a bizarre relationship with his sister. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, well, bone up on yer film history. Huston directed The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and The African Queen, to name only a few. He can also be seen in Chinatown, but most importantly he played The Lawgiver in the Battle for the Planet of the Apes and provided the voice for Gandalf in the animated version of The Hobbit.
Oh, and Huston’s sister is played by the one and only Shelley Winters.
Bo Hopkins, of The Wild Bunch and TV fame, rounds out the intrepid cast. Hopkins plays a scientist what trains orcas for…science, I guess. It is all very scientific. The training, not the orcas. They just swim and eat fish.
Huston is trying to solve the mystery behind the dead bodies piling up on the shores of Ocean Beach (yes, Ocean Beach). Or what is left of the bodies anyway—the skeletons have been picked cleaner than my checking account after my last divorce. No one is safe: not even babies or peg leg ship captains.
As the title suggests, the killer is, wait for it, an octopus (even though an octopus’ limbs are usually referred to as ‘arms’). This results in many blown-up, close up shots of a normal octopus, and a few rubber tentacles for good measure. Toy boats are laid to ruin in a few scenes, which is always a joy to watch, plus there are even a few bikinis which are thankfully nearly toy-sized.
Speaking of flesh, one of Winters’ kids has my favorite line of the film: “Mommy, you’re plump! There’s more to love!” Ah, kids. When they ain’t bein’ ate up by a giant octopus, they say the darnedest things. Winters also sports the craziest hat this side of Kurt Russel’s from The Thing, and seems more focused on her son’s urinary tract and having awkward conversations with her brother than the killer octopus.
Later on, after a feeding frenzy, Hopkins decides to take the fight to the octopus, and boxes up his trained orcas. By which I mean, he sticks them in a giant metal tube, and hauls them with his boat. Not knowing if the whales will actually fight upon being set free, Hopkins delivers a heartfelt soliloquy via the tube’s food hole (followed by tossing in a couple of fish).
Like any good Jaws ripoff, Tentacles is hilarious. Being a foreign production, there are plenty of absurd moments, which only make the film more endearing. Huston and Fonda don’t seem to phone in their performances either—they give it their all, which is the cherry on top. Plus, this was made in the late 1970’s, so the wardrobe is outstanding. There are lapels you could land a jet fighter on.
Tiger says, give this one a watch.
Tiger Sixon is forced to watch B-movies from the comfort of a secret government base in Death Valley. He looks nothing at all like Daniel J. Hogan (@danieljhogan) who draws comics and writes humor for Clattertron.