Predating the more famous Godzilla by a year and being a major influence on that movie, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a 1953 creature feature that is home to a series of firsts. It was the first movie in history to feature a monster awakened by a nuclear blast and also contains Ray Harryhausen’s first solo special effects work. It spawned a plethora of imitations and ushered the dawn of a golden age for monster movies.
The plot sets a pattern which will sound familiar to anyone who’s seen a creature feature before. Deep inside the Arctic Circle, a team of scientists and military personnel are carrying out a nuclear test. While out collecting samples soon after, physicist Thomas Nesbitt (Paul Christian) is shocked to eye a giant beast, lurking in the icy gloom. Back in New York City no one believes the young scientist but when strange tales come down the Atlantic seaboard towards Gotham, others begin to treat Nesbitt’s claims seriously. Unfortunately they’re too late and the beast makes devastating landfall in the city itself.