EDITOR’S NOTE: You can check out my first take on this movie — posted December 20, 2018 — but I got so excited about watching it that I wrote something new.
Ovidio G. Assonitis just wants to entertain you. Starting in the 60s, when he brought Shaw Brothers movies to the west and started producing his own movies like The Labyrinth of Sex, Who Saw Her Die? and Man from Deep River, his films were lean, mean and audience pleasers, too. Supposedly, he tried to buy the rights to The Exorcist, which sounds kayfabe, because his Beyond the Door is literally the same movie.
So he already had some experience taking a blockbuster and making his own version. Therefore, when a great white shark took over the movie world, he made this one. He went so far to have Percy Rodrigues, who announced the trailers for all of the Jaws movies, read his sell copy.
Before we get to the movie, I really need to do a month of Assonitis produced and directed movies. Between this, the supposedly Emmanuelle Arsan-directed Laure, The Visitor, Madhouse, Piranha II: The Spawning, Iron Warrior, The Curse, Curse II: The Bite, Beyond the Door III, American Ninja 4: The Annihilation, Lambada and being the chairman of the newly relaunched Cannon Pictures Inc. after the departure of Menahem Golan and the restructuring of The Cannon Group.
Solana Beach is a seaside tourist resort dealing with undersea terror. And it’s not a shark. No, the title spoils it by revealing that a giant octopus in in town.
Science fact: According to America’s Oceans, “Giant Pacific Octopuses are creatures of high intelligence and high amicability. While they have the ability to inflict harm on humans if they wanted to, no attacks thus far have been fatal or even harmful.”
Also, I doubt if an octopus has foresight.
Unlike messy eaters like Orca — who didn’t even finish his meal of Bo Derek — or Piranha, this cephalopod leaves behind skeletons totally bereft of flesh, muscles and organs.
Assonitis spent nearly $1 million on a life-sized replica of the giant octopus, which promptly sank the exact second that it was put in the water. So the octopus that dies at the end? That’s a real one. An already dead one. But it’s getting torn up — spoiler — by killer whales, so the fact that a dead octopus is defiled should remind you that this is a movie made by Italians.
But hey –even though this movie is named Tentacles, octopuses don’t have tentacles. Instead, they have arms. Squid have tentacles. Again, an octopus have none. They also don’t roar, but then again, neither do sharks and that didn’t stop the creators of Jaws: The Revenge.
Back to the movie. The Trojan company has been building an underwater tunnels that uses radio signals that have driven the octopus insane. Blame Mr. Whitehead (Henry Fonda, who had a pacemaker put in right before this started filming, which is why he shot all his scenes in one day and barely moves in those scenes).
Marine expert Will Gleason (Bo Hopkins), Sheriff Robards (Claude Akins) and newspaper reporter Ned Turner (John Huston) are there to save the town, a pair of killer whales named Summer and Winter, who get a pep talk from Hopkins that makes me laugh every time I watch this.
“I guess you know now why I brought you here. I wanted to tell ya more about it, but there’ve been many people that died. I’ve lost a loved one. I need your help more now than ever. I remember the times when I was training you. People used to call you killers. They used to call me that on the streets. It doesn’t mean nothing. You have more love in your heart, more affection than any human being I ever met. But now, I can’t ask anybody else, so I’m asking you to help me kill this octopus. I hope you understand that. I know I’m in your environment. I don’t want it this way, but if I release you and you go away, I want ya to know I’ll understand. All right, enough said. I gotta go now. If you feel anything, you talk to me. Make some noises. I know people’ll think we’re crazy. Maybe we are. Maybe we are.”
Robert Shaw got the Indianapolis speech.
Bo Hopkins got talking to killer whales.
There’s a town festival scene right out of Spielberg and Shelley Winters is dressed like a child instead of a 57 year old woman. Also, she and John Huston literally disappear from the movie. Why were they in it? So that Shelley could have a kid talk to her this way?
Little boy: Mommy, you’re plump. There’s more to love.
Tillie Turner: Oh, sweet-talk me like your father.
If you like Italian casts, well, this movie is for you. Hey — there’s Cesare Danova from Cleopatra, The Astral Factor and Mean Streets. Here’s Biloxi, Mississippi born Sherry Buchanan who replaced a production secretary during the shooting of My Name Is Nobody in Louisiana and ended up moving to Italy where she was in What Have They Done to Your Daughters?, Eyes Behind the Stars, The Last House On the Beach and the movie that could be Starcrash 3, Escape from Galaxy 3. And take a look! It’s Delia Boccardo, Athena in Luigi Cozzi’s Hercules. Franco Diogene from Strip Nude for Your Killer!
It was written by Jerome Max (who only wrote six episodes of a soap opera otherwise), Tito Carpi (where to begin? Marta? Escape from the Bronx? Holy God, Here Comes the Passatore!?) and Steven W. Carabatsos, who wrote episodes of Ben Casey and The Big Valley.
Bringing all the Italian madness together is a score by Stelvio Cipirani, which uses the theme from another movie he worked on, La Polizia Sta a guarde, multiple times. Cipirani scored lots more jawsploitation movies like The Bermuda Triangle, Encounters in the Deep, Night of the Sharks, Bermuda: Cave of the Sharks and Piranha II: The Spawning.
Obviously, I must love this movie if I spent around a thousand words making fun of it.
The Kino Lorber blu ray comes with a trailer and a radio ad. You need this movie.