Monster of the Day #49

This was Rick Baker’s first creation for a *cough* real movie back when he was a youngster.  He also wore the suit, ala Paul Blaisdell.  You knew the kid was likely to become a pro when he whipped this suit out, again his first major gig, and then suggested to the producers that due to his deficiencies it be kept mainly in shadows, much like The Thing in The Thing from Another World.  However, the producers were instead amazed at how good the suit was for the pittance they’d given Baker, and they showcased it mercilessly, shooting tons of close-ups of its immobile face in broad daylight.

Once back when my youngest brother was just like six or seven, I found him watching this on TV.  The cast had gone out hunting for the creature, but never found him, and were returning wearing and discouraged to their RV.  My brother piped in that the monster would pop out of the RV and attack them.  I explained how this was impossible, because the monster would never be able to manipulate the push-button door handles with his big, awkward tentacles.  Just as I was going through this spiel, they opened the trailer door and the monster jumped out and attacked them.  My little brother turned to me and, to my well-earned humiliation, laughed in my face.

I learned a valuable lesson that day.

  • I myself learned a lesson when my own brother asked me how the heck the octoman was supposed to kill people and I said obviously he has to strangle you with his tentacles. After all, what do you expect? He can’t simply punch a tentacle through … er … okay then.

  • TongoRad

    You don’t need a budget when you’ve got a title like ‘Octoman’! That stuff just sells itself (and, no, I haven’t seen nor heard of this movie until right now, but I would have definitely checked it out on the basis of the title alone, had I come across it.)

  • I remember liking this movie as a kid.

    Which no doubt explainas why I remain friendless and lonely to this day.

  • Of course my grasp of spelling/editing/spell check may also have contributed to this.

    Also, I’m sort of a jerk, with bad eating habits. Which might also EXPLAIN things.


    Nah, it’s gotta be liking Octoman.

  • Remember, cut off his oxygen supply by making a ring of fire around him. Science be damned!

  • BeckoningChasm

    If I recall correctly, this was one of the first feature films that you could watch on the internet for free.

  • The Rev. D.D.

    I rented this in high school; I tried to be fair to it because the tape was pretty shabby, but damn it’s just not very good. That RV scene was a howler, at least. I also really liked that perfectly round puncture hole he makes in the guy with his tentacle.

    I unabashedly love Octaman though, who is no Giant Claw or Tabanga but still pretty wonderfully goofy.

    That cat-eyed octupus bugged me for some reason, however. Why I was OK with the ambulatory humanoid octopus but not him is beyond me.

  • Gamera

    He punches holes in people with his tentacles?!?!?!

    Ok, I have to see this movie now.

    Ken, is this where you formulated the term ‘IITS’?

    Stuntman as Octoman: ‘How do I get into the RV? I don’t have any fingers to work the latch!’

    Director: ‘I dunno- it’s in the script, just get in the RV and shut up’

    Funniest thing- I started to type Octomom and had to change it back to Octoman.

  • Actually, he impales people with his tentacles, straight through. I never did figure out how he was doing that.

  • John mentions the best scene: They ‘cut off his oxygen’ by making a huge diameter circle of fire around him, that rises maybe three or four inches high. Somehow this removes all the oxygen in the large, enclosed area. The best part is they could have make this rather less retarded by saying the fire was meant to dehydrate him. Apparently they didn’t think of that.

  • Rock Baker

    It’s the fire scene my family remembers. Every so often a comment comes up that to stop a monster one needs only to pour a ring of gasoline a few yards wide and set it on fire. That scene in Godzilla vs Megalon where the ‘good’ monsters are surrounded by a wall of fire was met with the observation that they’d better get out before the oxygen burns away.

    The fire scene was a hoot, but the rest of the movie was monolithically dull -and a poor reworking of Creature From The Black Lagoon to boot! I’d love to see it again, however, because its been years since I had a chance to see it. All things considered, the suit isn’t that bad. If they’d kept it in the shadows as Baker (no relation, but Pop’s name IS Rick and he also knows make-up and costuming) suggested, it really could’ve worked. But then, the movie would still be lifeless.

  • Gamera

    Wow, someone should do a music video with the monster’s death set to Johnnie Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’.

    Thanks for the warning Rock, still if I can find it cheap I’m willing to sit though the dull parts for the impaling and ring of fire.

  • The film was directed by the guy who wrote Creature of the Black Lagoon. He should have stuck to writing. He duplicates exactly many of the plot points, as when Octaman blocks the RV’s exit route with a tree trunk, just as the Creature similarly traps the boat in the lagoon.

  • Rock Baker

    Oh, I think every monster fan should see Octaman at least once. Baker’s monster alone merrits a look at least.

    Now for my confession, I never actually finished the movie! It was years back and my family picked up the tape when it mysteriously became availible at WalMart, and we saw over half of it before everyone else decided it was just too bad to finish (which sounds funny, since we’d earlier watched the entire running time of Shriek of the Mutilated). I might’ve been able to add the title to my library before I moved out, but my folks had already let my brother tape over it. I never actually got to see how they kill the monster! (But please, no one tell, I still intend to get a copy one of these days!)

  • The awesome fire scene can be found here (click).

    Note that Octaman, for no apparent reason, sees in Fly-o-Vision.

  • Rock Baker

    “Note that Octaman, for no apparent reason, sees in Fly-o-Vision”

    Could be worse, I remember Slithis had 2-liter-plastic-pop-bottle-mounted-over-the-camera-lens-o-vision.

  • Gamera

    Well it can’t be worse than ‘Sting of Death’ can it? Can it?

  • Slithis also, except for a few scenes, makes the pace of Octaman (the movie, not the creature) seem torrid.

  • Rock Baker

    Sting of Death had a lot in its favor that Octaman lacks, like vibrant 60’s color compared to that dull, washed-out looking color scheme of the 70s. Sting of Death also features (taste of viewer is important here) Neil Sedaka songs, sexy go-go chicks, colorful location photography, sexy bikini chicks, an airboat chase, some shockingly crisp underwater photography, 60s styles, scuba stuff, a mad scientist, and a comparativley spry pace compared to Essex’s quicksand-like direction.

    On a side note, Essex also directed The Cremators, another early 70s science fiction flick. While it too has moments of ineptness, at least I found it held my interest (helped no end by one of Albert Glasser’s finer film scores -and apparently his last such score).

  • ChrisK

    I must be tired. Even after catching myself doing it over a dozen times, and looking at the picture, I keep reading Octoman as Octomom.

    A different horror to be sure….

  • Not-So-Great Cthulhu

    Ah, Octoman. I haven’t seen it in years, and about the only thing that stuck with me was the fire scene. Well, that and that the suit actually was pretty good, all things considered.

    As far as comparing it to Sting of Death… well, the suit in Octoman is definitely better (I mean, you can tell what it’s supposed to be just by looking at it), as opposed to hilariously awful. However, Octoman lacks the equivalent of the brilliant jellyfish attack scene on the sinking boat.

    Hmm… maybe if they’d had a horde of little octopi crawl up on land and attack the RV…

  • Jeeze Rock, don’t praise The Cremators. Holy crap. The mere fact that films like that can be mentioned here is kind of awesome though.

    What always killed me was how Octoman was clearly far less terrifying and dangerous than an actual, land-crawling octopus of the same mass would be.

    For me the big problem was the tubular mouth which is also how Japanese seem to represent octopuses. For years I couldn’t understand why the octopus monsters in Zelda had tube-mouths, and Octoman gave me the same problem. I think I’ve finally figured it out – they are mistaking the octopus’s funnel, for squirting water, for its mouth.

    Real octopus mouths, of course, are kind of parrot like. Except for the feature creature in OCTOPUS (2000) which has insect mouthparts for some reason.

  • Rock Baker

    “Jeeze Rock, don’t praise The Cremators. Holy crap”

    I didn’t say it was GOOD, did I? But I will generally cut a movie some slack if I like the concept, and the sentient giant ball of fire rolling across the countryside was a nifty idea I thought. I won’t deny for a moment that the entire film is murky, wooden, and weirdly framed, but I DO like that Glasser score and the film’s rather novel monster.

    I like your observation on the mouth, I’d never noticed this element myself. But would Rick’s monster look any better with a parrot beak?

  • You know, when you think about it, the monsters from Cremators are the cousins of the aliens from Island of the Burning Damned, only the former can roll around under their own power.

    They’re also rather less vulnerable to water, as I recall.

  • Yeah a lot of the Cremator action actually takes place at sea and on boats, which seems kind of odd for a giant ball o’ fire.

    A totally unrelated movie with a similar title is “Cremainders” in which a guy who is burned to a crisp comes back as a sort of french-fried zombie to wreak vengeance on those who wronged him. It will always have a place in my heart because when the movie popped to a monster-eye-view all red and blurry, my son Arthur immediately pegged it as “Cremaindervision” and so it remained.

  • Rock Baker

    I have yet to understand why so many monsters see thru a red filter. More often than not, they see LESS well than we do!

    As for the mother Cremator living underwater, well, it shows imagination….