Tentacles (1977)

Tentacles (1977)

Each year 10,000 tourists visit Ocean Beach. This summer Ocean Beach has attracted SOMETHING ELSE!

When people start mysteriously disappearing in a small seaside resort, a reporter believes that it has something to do with an underwater construction project run by a local businessman. However as more people go missing, the reporter and his marine expert friend come to suspect that there may be something more deadly in the water – a giant octopus.

 

The slew of Jaws rip-offs/clones/imitators/cash-ins that sprung up in the wake of Spielberg’s masterpiece is no surprise given cinema’s penchant for beating a dead horse to death and trying to make as much money out of popular fads. One of the earliest and one of the worst is this stinker from Italy featuring a giant octopus in the role of nature’s death bringer. I can’t really remember too many Jaws rip-offs being any good (Piranha probably being the pick) and the rest seem to be gunning for the title of ‘worst Jaws rip-off ever made.’ Well it’s quite possible that we have a winner here with Tentacles, although the competition is extremely tough!

Like the others, Tentacles’ script clearly borrows heavily from Jaws, including the now traditional ‘monster attacks local regatta’ scene and a grisly corpse popping out the water to scare someone ala the disembodied head in the boat scene. But borrowing something doesn’t mean to say it will work again and in this case, nothing works that has been plagiarised because there’s no build-up or anticipation. There’s just no tension or excitement at all. Attack scenes have no suspense and they’re almost blood-free which is a crime given that this is an Italian exploitation flick and you can usually bank on them being gory. It’s also a bit harder to get worked up about a killer octopus than it is a killer shark but at least make the effort. The octopus just isn’t given any credibility or channel enough fear to make it appear a real threat.

In fact no one realises the culprit is an octopus for a long time, meaning that the human scenes are seemingly pointless. At least the main character in Jaws knew that it was a shark and therefore even though the shark was not in the scene, it was still being talked about and made to seem like a serious threat. By the time the characters have figured out the score here, the film is half way through. The strength with Jaws was that when it was on land, the story kept moving forward and the characters were interesting and well-acted to keep you going until the next time the shark attacked. But that’s not the case here as the land scenes are terribly dull and uninteresting. Even when the characters do occasionally go out to sea, they do nothing but scuba dive. If you like scuba diving then maybe this is the film for you as there’s lots of it. It’s all well-filmed underwater and the sea looks nice and clean but it’s not exciting.

The special effects are not so special and the octopus seems to be just stock footage of an ordinary octopus which is then edited into the film to make it look like its attacking people. I think there are a couple of prop tentacles used in attack scenes but the effects are all so poor, it’s hard to distinguish between them all. There is arguably the world’s worst toy boat prop used for one scene in which the octopus drags it underwater. And to top it all off, the finale involving the octopus battling a pair of killer whales look like hand puppets trying to fish an octopus out of an aquarium – all very feeble. To top it off, there are some big names in the cast including John Huston, Shelley Winters and Henry Fonda however none of them has any sort of interaction with the octopus at all. They all disappear about two thirds of the way in which is probably a good thing as the script is dire anyway so the less talking these people do on screen, the better it is.

 

Tentacles is pretty much unwatchable. It’s not even remotely ‘bad’ enough to watch for a laugh. I’d like to think of some octopus joke to round this review off but the film has sapped my creative juices from me!

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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