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Octaman: It will squeeze you to dead and suck you dry, it will!
Matt - 3/21/01

Well, I walked into Octaman expecting a lost horror movie classic, and in some respects, I was right. Many movie buffs know of Octaman, know of the strange rubber suit fashioned by monster movie mogul Rick Baker, and know that its one of the older colorized horror flicks to still be around today. That being said, I stand firm in my belief that I'm the only person whose ever actually seen Octaman, because its an experience that pretty much blocks the usage of terms like 'classic,' 'worthwhile,' or 'remotely passable as a motion picture.'

Then again, its entirely possible that director Harry Essex is a distant cousin of mine, who foresaw his unborn relative's future need in making fun of awful movies thirty years later. The only real survival tool I had in watching this was the private dream that it was filmed with the sole purpose of me having something to make fun of. Surely, they didn't think they were putting together a good movie, much less a scary one.

The Plot: A small Hispanic community has the unfortunate problem of water contaminated with nuclear radiation. Our heroes, who range between an out-of-place French woman with a staring problem and a 50-yr-old business man in a grey blazer, know that bad water equals bad times. Sure enough, they find a mutated octopus, and before they know it, a giant, man-killing octopus guy who lusts for women is trying to kill them all!

Sound fantastic? Believe me, you haven't heard the half of it yet. Every time Octaman appears, he leaves a trail of plot holes and factual errors the likes of which movie-goers have never seen. This movie really doesn't deserve the Full Review, but there's enough silly crap in here to fill a book, so let's get started. A few rules though:

1) Some of the following pics may look a tad dark. That's not an error in encoding. Apparently, since most of the movie was shot in daylight, they stuck the World's Worst Plastic Lens over the camera to create an artificial night. Someone should've told 'em the lens needed to be at least mildly translucent, because in some of the most epic scenes, the only thing viably recognizable is a flashlight. I'm not kidding, there's literally 10-minute spreads where you can't see a thing.

2) Other scenes are shot through the eyes of the octopus man, which according to this movie, sees things through quadruple-exposure vision. Its brutal, and the worst part? Octopus don't see things like that. They actually gave the octopus a trait it doesn't have in a seeming attempt to make the movie worse. Then again, I'm not sure how many species of octopus are found in Mexican freshwater ponds, but that's another matter entirely. Here we go...

In some cases, its necessary to withhold real names of people involved with a particular endeavor to save them the accompanying embarrassment. But in the case of Octaman, the embarrassment reaches such huge levels that I feel compelled to even withhold the characters' real names. Some of you may feel that I simply forgot them, but trust me, its for their own good. They're probably all around 87 or so now, there's no need to ostracize them from all the fun activities going on in their retirement homes. That being said, here we have George and Missy. George is, I think, some form of freelance nuclear waste checker, a position that fully explains the thought that went into this movie. Missy is French, and that's about it. We have to have a female on the cast, because as a side effect of the genetic mutation of the octopus, it appears to enjoy kidnapping and raping women. Three cheers for uninspired, drunk script writing! Our first true example of hentai, my friends.

Anyway, they're down in a primitive Hispanic settlement, because as everyone knows, Mexico as a whole was plagued by poverty and people dressed like Indians back in the 70s. Why are they here? Well, as a result of all the bombs set off around the world at war time, nuclear radiation has spread through the oceans of the world - and its centralized in Mexican ponds. Thank you, thank you Mr. Essex. The jokes for this review write themselves. Remember that episode of Seinfeld where George plans to get ahead in the world by going against every one of his instincts? He learned that from Harry Essex. There's no way the guy thought all this was a good idea - in fact, everything in this movie is the parallel opposite.

Now, meet Henry, George's trust assistant who's job consists of combing through lakes and ponds looking for evil. And its evil he's found! Looks like George was right on the mark with his radiation theories - that's obviously no regular octopus. Firstly, its eyes are blood red. Secondly, this new breed of octopus is made entirely of poorly cut rubber. Thirdly, its the first octopus capable of screaming, and to a lesser extent, throwing its voice. FOURTHLY, its the first octopus who can live completely out of water. FIFTHLY, the damn thing was found in a FRESHWATER POND. I've scoured the net, folks. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure octopus are a strictly saltwater species. Given the circumstances of a movie about a man walking around in a rubber suit with suction cups stapled on, I'll allow these oversights to pass.

Because no other method of action is readily available, George decides that the best course is to simply dump the mutated octopus on the ground and see what it does. My guess would be 'flop around till it dies', but this octopus has other ideas. Instead, in gently waddles its way down to the lake, completely unaware of the string pulling it there or the fact that none of its body parts seem able to move under their own power. Fortunately, they're able to grab it before it escapes back into the unforgiving seas that are small Mexican ponds, but not before Missy comments that it looks like its 'waiting for some kind of signal.' Honey, the thing is quite clearly a rubber toy. Its not waiting for anything. I don't care how shitty the extent of special effects were in 1971, there's no way anyone bought into this crap. Even the actors seem to wink at each other when reciting their lines, in a last ditch effort to save face and tell the audience that they really needed the money.

George meets up with the project's funder, who doesn't seem to pleased with his find. I guess he wanted a mutated turtle instead, since he decides to cut off the funding. Obviously, George is heartbroken. A red-eyed octopus who screams is quite a find. His assistant tries to back him up touting the grand scale of opportunities presented by a half-human, half-fish....convienently looking over the fact that the octopus here shows no human qualities, and according to every scientific journal ever written, octopus simply aren't fish. I love movies entirely done in ad libs.

As we build to a crescendo that I'm certain this movie is gearing towards, I should mention that we've already had our first look at Octaman in previous scenes, looking ominous from the skirts of the pond. Even the most novice of monster movie makers should know that its never a good idea to give the audience their first look at the monster, especially when its so obviously fake, within the first five minutes. But don't worry, you'll see him in all his semi-aquatic splendor soon enough.

George manages to find funding in the source of some rich hick whose dude ranch just happened to be directly adjacent to the octopond, so we're back in business. He starts questioning the locals, and wouldn't you know it, Octaman is quite the celebrity in these parts. The locals are a strange bunch, though. Mr. Essex felt that to properly capture the idea of 'Mexican poverty,' all the Mexicans must fit the strict criteria of having the worst stereotypical Spanish mannerisms ever, and on top of that, dress like Indians. So this movie isn't just an insult to anyone with even a passing knowledge of sea life, it also manages to outcast an entire nation. Way to go!

However, one of the Indian/Spanish/Rodeo Cowboys does relay an interesting tale about Octaman, and luckily enough, the flashback comes complete with an attack scene!

Octaman's Working Budget: 3.50
Dissection of Funds: Bagels, 3.00; Special Effects, .50.

When all else fails, stick a plastic eye and some ketchup on the victim. It may not convince anybody, but at least you can say you tried. The flashback sequence consists of Octaman gradually making his way up to some guy, stabbing him with a tentacle, pricking his eye, carrying him uphill, and throwing him off. Wuzzah! I guess another side-effect of the genetic mutation was that the octopus now had a thirst for human blood.

At this point, I'm forced to skip over around 30 minutes of footage. They stuck the night-lens on, so I couldn't see a thing. The script doesn't help much either, but I can tell you that in the time lost, the group of Octaman hunters have set up camp in a trailer by the lake. Its never fully established why they're hunting Octaman, but I guess they had to do something to explain why six white guys and a French girl would willingly spend time near a Mexican swamp that's noted for being the place where mutant murders occur.

This entails doing highly erroneous things, such as going out into the lake in a 5' tiny boat in the middle of the night, or falling asleep at a table placed next to the lake. These people had a death wish. Sure enough, Octaman shows up at the trailer, because he's in love with Missy. He continually slaps his rubber tentacles against the trailer, but since he's getting nowhere with that, one of them decides to open the door to check out what's going on out there, instead of going the much safer route of looking out the damn window, and thus, Octaman claims another victim.

Missy, meanwhile, realizes that she has a sort of power over the beast. He's her love slave, if you will. We learn this in an amazing scene shot through Octaman's 5x vision, which shows five Missies staring into the camera, arms outstretched, gently yelling 'STAY.' Oh my. This serves as the perfect compliment to the scientists' earlier revelation that the octopus was 'the smartest creature in the ocean.' It also serves as a segue into the movie's only Amazing Scene...

To stop Octaman from attacking, our heroes hatch up a pretty strange plan. They have a few guns, but really, who wants to shoot Octaman? Instead, what they do, and I swear I'm not making this up, is blind him with flashlights. Yes, they halt Octoman dead in his tracks by shining a flashlight vaguely in his general area, which causes the monster to grow disoriented and annoyed. But it doesn't kill him. To kill him, one of the guys sets a fire in a perfect circle around him, which, get this, drains him of oxygen. Sure enough, Octoman passes out. If this was truly the end, it'd mark the Worst Way To Kill A Monster in movie history. I was half-asleep by this point in the film, but this one got me right back up. Where the hell did the guy who wrote this ever get the idea that it seemed even remotely workable? A small fire about 15' away from Octaman would completely drain him of oxygen? Why didn't they just shoot him, or set him on fire? Guess the budget wasn't enormous enough to fit another one of those glorious rubber suits.

Of course, Mr. Essex wanted to torture us a little more, so Octaman springs back to life (because he got wet and thus regained his life power, you see) to cause more mayhem.

This time, Octaman wastes no time by facing towards the camera and performing a swords dance with his tentacles. He just kills people left and right, every lesser-character in the film gets axed. How does Octaman kill with such efficiency? Well, not only is he a super-powered mutant beast of terror, he also has the Touch of Death, which allows him to kill people just by brushing up gently against them. Furthermore, his tentacles must be laced with angel dust, because once one of them hits anyone, the victim busts out into a full ballet dance while screaming something strangely harmonious for a few minutes before purposely jumping into a truck and collapsing on the floor.

Missy tries to soothe his soul with some more of her elaborate and lustful pleas for him to 'stay' again, but this time, Octaman's not up for the foreplay. I still can't get over the premise of this picture. Mutated octopus who occasionally comes out of the water to throw people off of cliffs, or to rape women. What's more is that none of the people involved in this film ever gave a real reason as to why they'd need to stick near the Octaman's lake. They sometimes mention something about him being an 'important find,' but that's about it. I'm scratching my head at this one, it never had a chance at being a good film. Even if this idea was worked with a much bigger budget, it'd still suck. That much was proven in the television mini-series for Peter Benchley's The Beast, another sad sack of a film dealing with tentacle-ridden monsters of the deep. I guess the true moral of this story is to avoid incorporating the octopus into any form of entertainment.

Thankfully, Octoman is ready to die.

Everyone smartens up and realizes they have guns, and as it turns out, that's all anyone needs. A few well-placed shots, and Octaman's a distant memory. Actually, its a bit more involved than that - they shoot him no less than sixty times, and 59 of those shots result in nothing more than Octaman swinging around looking agitated. Finally, the last shot send him into a death rattle, where we follow his lifeless walk back to the sea in a final shot that seems to go on for at least ten minutes. Octaman sinks, Octaman dies. Actually, I didn't think he died there, but since they started rolling the credits immediately following this scene, I'm willing to accept it.

The end of the movie features one of the Spanish Indian Cowboys throwing a wood carving of Octaman at his corpse. Whatever. What a shitty, stupid, ridiculous waste of a 5-day rental.

Okay, so now that we're done going through the movie, here's my afterthoughts. You wouldn't think it, but this was pretty famous at the time for, believe it or not, the special effects. Rick Baker, who designed the Octaman suit, would later go on to mega success when he designed virtually all the creatures of the Star Wars cantina. Back in my early teens I got into the habit of ordering old sci-fi magazines, and this flick was frequently mentioned. As much as I can appreciate a bad movie's charm, I can't appreciate a bad movie that goes out of its way to be completely boring. If I was really fat or really dead, I could give this a thumbs down. Instead, I'll just tell you to never, ever watch it.

In my view, the effects of this movie even in 1971 were outdated by around 20 years. Effects aren't everything, and they could've saved face by giving us one actor with merit or a plot device that didn't cause people to throw shoes at their VCR, but no such luck. Its just bad. Worth seeing once to see a guy in a hilariously awkward rubber suit throw a mannequin off a cliff, but other than that, avoid at all costs.

Instead Of This: The effects and plotline are almost exactly on par with the classic Creature From The Black Lagoon, so if you feel you need your water-monster fill, rent that instead.

- Matt

PS, this week we'll be looking at a more recent, bigger budget water monster movie flop in Jaws: The Revenge. Meanwhile, here's links to some of my past bad movie reviews, all themed to star the pillar of the bad movie community, my friend and yours, Corey Haim.

Check out - Me, Myself, and I - Snowboard Academy - Rollerboys