Hoo boy, did this movie
ever blindside me. I figured it would be bad, but this.... this
is undoubtedly outlawed by the Geneva Convention.
Back in the review for
another dismal outing, I
Drink Your Blood, I revealed that one of the warning signs of
a truly wretched flick is nudity in the first five minutes. Octaman
gives us not one, but two more signs: 1) the very first thing
you see is a montage of stock footage, then 2) they immediately
show you the monster.
Yep, there's the Octaman,
a latex skeleton out of Oscar winner Rick Baker's closet, walking about,
waving his arms... oh, let's be charitable and call them tentacles...
under the opening credits. It is sincerely hoped that you like
the sight of Octaman walking around and waving his tentacles, because
you're going to be seeing a lot of it in the next 83 pain-filled
Kerwin Matthews plays
an ecologist researching radioactive pollution in the water of a chain
in deepest, darkest Mexico. One of his science pals (Stein, the philosophical
ecologist) finds a rubber octopus with intelligent eyes. Well, they
must be intelligent, because everybody keeps talking about them. Personally,
I think it looks like a really good (if scary) children's toy. It even
has wind-up crawling action as it tries to make it back to the water,
but Matthews and his chick Pier Angeli (trying to make a comeback) grab
it, put it back in their highly scientific plastic bucket, and take
it to a nearby university, leaving Stein and some cannon fodder behind.
The cannon fodder tries to dissect another rubber octopus, incurring
the wrath of.... OCTAMAN!
slaps his victims to death, in combination with some hideous psychic
power that forces you to wrap its rubbery tentacles about yourself and
beat yourself with them (not entirely unprecedented; the octopus
in Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster had the same dreadful ability).
Unable to get academic
funding to study the rubber octopus phenomenon, Matthews enlists the
backing of Johnny, a wealthy rancher who sees the possibility of a great
circus attraction. Everybody goes
back and discovers the dead cannon fodder. Octaman walks around some
more and waves his tentacles. The jefe comes from the local village,
and mistakenly carries off a canister containing another rubber octopus.
Although traveling at his usual lumbering, geriatic pace, Octaman somehow
gets ahead of the jefe and his companion, kung-fu punches the
head man in the heart, then the bastard brachiopod throws a dummy off
a cliff. Octaman celebrates this victory by walking around and waving
By this time, my Internal
Movie Clock told me I had been watching this for about an hour. No such
luck - it was only 26 minutes.
Since every time the
ecologists put a rubber octopus in a bucket, Octaman shows up and kills
somebody, they decide to employ the Scientific Method and see if they
can replicate the experiment's results. Sure enough, Octaman shows up
and offs the last of the cannon fodder. Go ahead and grit your teeth
now: we are stuck with the remaining characters for the rest of the
There is some folderol about a link
between Angeli and Octaman, with no good explanation nor to any purpose
other than a reason for Octaman to grab her and carry her off over and
over again, in between bouts of walking around (and waving his tentacles).
During one of these enterprises, Matthews spreads gasoline in a circle
around Octaman and lights it, informing us that it will "burn up
all the oxygen around him!" Octaman, of course, faints from the
lack of oxygen (that's some fire - the circle must be thirty
feet wide!), and is promptly netted. This lasts perhaps five minutes
of screen time (which seems like another half-hour), and then Octaman
slips the net... off-camera. Only Angeli shouting "Back! Back!"
at the baffled brachiopod prevents Stein from dying a slappy death.
Enough being enough, our heroes (giggle)
try to head back to civilization, only to discover that Octaman has
blocked the road with a tree. The native guide, Davido (an artisan who
can whittle in the back of a moving RV without losing fingers) spots
Octaman walking around and follows him to a cave. Since there's still
fifteen minutes of running time, everyone must go into the cave and
wander about pensively for oh, say, a year or so. And then they have
the nerve to be surprised when they run into Octaman.
For some reason, there
is a cave-in, and more time is eaten away while Davido finds a small
tunnel to the surface, conveniently enough, near their RV. As we have
not seen Octaman walking around for some time, we just know that somehow
he has used those ungainly tentacles to open the door to the RV and
is lurking within, and yep, we're right. It's slaps upside the head
for all and sundry, and time for Angeli to get carried off again.
Okay, credit where credit is due:
at least this time, the chick in the monster's arms is packing heat,
and she shoots the murderous mollusk through the heart. Octaman drops
her, at which point the ecologists feel free to pump him full of lead.
Mortally wounded, Octaman staggers toward the water. We know he is mortally
wounded because he is not waving his tentacles. The end.
Notice some similarities
here between Octaman and Creature from the Black Lagoon?
The utterly bizarre lust of an icthyoid creature for a female mammal?
That tree blocking the way out? That's because the writer/director of
Octaman, Harry Essex, also wrote Creature. Otherwise,
it would be awfully easy to mistake this for a Larry Buchanan movie.
Buchanan is a Dallas
filmmaker most noted for the so-minimalist-it's-practically-art Mars
Needs Women. He directed a series of direct-to-TV zero-budget remakes
of already low-budget AIP standards: Creature of Destruction
(The She-Creature), The Eye Creatures (Invasion of the Saucer Men), In the Year 2889
(The End of the World) and fan favorite Zontar,
Thing from Venus (It Conquered the World). Buchanan's
beasties had a tendency to walk around a lot with their arms waving,
too, and his scripts showed the same leaden approach to attempted light
banter, not to mention the same awful lighting (they did have better
Let us now rag on Octaman
himself. Anton, get your drums ready for some rimshots.We see far, far
too much of him, even if he is the title character... and, quite often,
in broad daylight. Many a closeup is made of Octaman's inexpressive,
unblinking latex face, as if the director expected us to imbue the lifeless
rubber with our own emotions. As a fearsome monster, Octaman ranks somewhere
just below Minya, Son of Godzilla (ba-doom!). Not even the Giant
Toothy Cucumber of It Conquered
the World is afraid of this guy (bada-doom!). I kept
hoping for Inframan to show
up and kick his ass, but even he has standards (ba doom-doom!
*clang!*). Normally, you can spend an enjoyable amount of time looking
for the zipper on a suit like this, but finding the zipper would have
meant I was interested enough to look (Thank you! Miami Beach audiences
are the best audiences in the world!).
Mike Weldon says this
was a direct-to-TV movie (another Buchanan link!) - all I can say is,
the intrusion of commercials would have made watching this flick more
enjoyable; at least then there might have been some entertainment value