The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Monday, July 28, 2014


Some movies just defy description. They're just that bad. Now, you know what movie is pretty great? 1975's Jaws, the first true summer blockbuster. You know what isn't so good about it? The seemingly countless sequels, ripoffs and countless quasi-remakes. Some of them are pretty awful but pretty entertaining if you're looking for a laugh. Then there's 1977's Tentacles. It isn't entertaining. It. Is. Just. Bad.

At Ocean Beach, a quiet seaside resort, not much in terms of danger ever goes on....until now. Several people have gone missing in the water, including one diver who went looking for the missing persons. Their bodies have been discovered, their skeletons stripped almost entirely of skin and the marrow sucked out of their bones. What could possibly doing this? A veteran newspaper reporter, Ned Turner (John Huston), is on the prowl, suspecting a huge corporation drilling in the ocean may be at fault. Keeping on the trail, Turner continues to look for an explanation, even turning to a famed animal trainer and experienced diver, Will Gleason (Bo Hopkins), for help. Looking at those who've been attacked and the mounting piles of evidence, Gleason suspects the attacks could have come from a giant octopus, a creature not known for attacking humans. Could Turner be onto something, linking the attacks to the corporation? Lives depend on them finding the answer.

Wow, what a bad, just plain awful, lousy movie. I like some of the Jaws ripoffs from Orca to Grizzly, both lousy movies, but my goodness, are they entertaining in their lousiness. This U.S./Italian co-production from director Ovidio G. Assonitis doesn't even qualify in the lousiness department. You know what the best thing going for this movie is? The music, composer Stelvio Cipriani turning in a memorable, foreboding score. Listen HERE for an extended sample. In a disaster-themed, killer animal on the loose movie, when the music is the biggest positive, you know you're in trouble. It just isn't good to the point it is painfully boring. 'Tentacles' follows the Jaws formula to a T, duplicating entire scenes, characters and story development. At no point is it ever scary or foreboding so go watch Jaws or even Jaws 2, Orca, or Grizzly for a far better time.

I'll give disaster movies credit where it's due. You get to see a lot of movie stars in one place at the same time. Now.....the performances aren't going to be very good, but it's an abundance of movie stars!!! How can you lose?!? Well, we do so there's that. No one seems particularly interested, but there is name recognition. Huston is a good choice to play a crotchety, grizzled reporter with Shelley Winters starring as his sister, a single mom who's always looking to seduce a younger man. Give him credit, Bo Hopkins commits to the material, even if his part is a pretty odd one. He's at one with animals, especially when his wife (Delia Boccardo) comes into danger. Also starring is Claude Akins as the overworked, overstressed town sheriff trying to save his townspeople. Cesare Danova plays the maligned corporation representative who must answer all the questions, knowing his company could be held responsible for the attacks. The rest of the speaking parts are badly dubbed English from Italian-speaking actors.

A master of the 1970s disaster movie cameo, Henry Fonda also makes a quick appearance as Mr. Whitehead, the President of Trojan Construction who's looking to make a buck. If some people get killed in the process....meh, whatever happens.

I don't know what to say here. It's not that the movie is bad because it is more than that. A bad movie can be entertaining, but this disaster knockoff is pure and simple boring as watching paint dry on a wall, as watching grass grow. The octopus attacks are laughable, seemingly also making an octopus a killing creature that sprints across the top of the ocean. Oh, no! It's shooting ink at me!!! The reasoning seems far-fetched even for a poorly written script, construction vibrations deep on the ocean floor infuriating the creature to the point it feels the need to kill and to kill often. A seemingly unstoppable killing machine in nature is a cool premise and a great jumping off point, but this one never does anything with it.

Then there's the end. Hopkins' animal trainer who's coming off an extreme incident with the bends unleashes his two killer whales to take out the octopus. I can't say I've seen too many movies where animals become hired killers, but this one counts. When things should be raring to go in the finale, it just doesn't. The underwater scenes go on and on without a sense of urgency. That's the entire movie, long stretches of boredom broken up by slightly less boring animal attacks. Some cool names in the cast, but even that is wasted. Steer clear or the tentacles may get you!

Tentacles (1977): */****


  1. hahaha, you are destroying me favorites now!!! i actually think this movie is awesome despite the fact it's... tentacles. a write-up is actually on the way.

  2. Haha it was just so bad!!! It didn't even try to disguise its "Jaws-ness."