I’ve always considered that Herman Melville’s famous novel Moby Dick, stripped of its encyclopedic details for the screen, readily becomes a full-on giant monster tale. The best version so far, John Huston’s 1956 adaptation, starring Gregory Peck as the bitter and obsessed Ahab and Richard Basehart as Ishmael, has most of the ingredients of a giant monster movie set at sea, and certainly the ambiance, though no city-stomping occurs, of course.
To quote myself:
[Huston’s Moby Dick] is a period film, which follows the fortunes of a man so disillusioned with his life that he gets a job on a ship in order to fulfil an almost mystical attraction to the sea, only to discover that the ship’s captain is a man who has been crippled by a legendary giant monster and is determined that he and his crew will scour the world to find and destroy it. There are strange prophecies of doom, moments of weird supernatural insight, a weird alien character who comes to accept his own fate and that of the crew and thus miraculously creates a means for the main character to escape the general doom….
Other fantastical elements abound. It is as though the ship is being drawn into a different world as its dark destiny closes in around it. After a lengthy search, following the giant monster’s trail of death and destruction, the obsessed captain and his crew find themselves the target of the monster’s wrath. In a violent climax the monster destroys their boats and, by swimming around and around the main ship, creates a huge vortex that sucks it under the waves. Only the narrator escapes to tell the tale.
A central scene is one where Ishmael goes into a pub and sees a painting of a whale that’s destroying a ship. He asks in bewilderment, “Can whales do that?” A crusty old seafarer replies, “Arrgh, bless me, whales can do anything!” He goes on to list all the havoc whales can wreak and concludes with this gem, “If God wanted to be a fish, he’d be a whale, believe me, he’d be a whale!”
And remember that the name of the most famous giant monster of all, Gojira (Godzilla), has the Japanese word for “whale” as part of its etymological make-up.
Now the American classic novel gets the giant monster treatment in the The Asylum’s latest low-budget monster epic.
2010: Moby Dick (US-2010; dir. Trey Stokes)
A modern adaptation of the classic novel of the captain of a high tech submarine and his obsessive quest to destroy the enormous prehistoric whale that maimed him.
Written by Asylum producer Paul Bales, the film stars Barry Bostwick as Captain Ahab (supporting role veteran of assorted TV shows, such as “Supernatural”, “Law and Order: SVU” and “Ghost Whisperer” as well as many movies, including The Rocky Horror Picture Show). Renée O’Connor, pictured below, is Dr Michelle Herman, named in a not-so-subtle illusion to the author of the novel — Renée is most famous for playing Xena’s sidekick Gabrielle in 134 episodes of “Xena: Warrior Princess” between 1995-2001. Other stars include Adam Grimes (seen in lots of TV shows, including as Lobster Boy in an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and Michael Teh (from Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus).
Jay Gillespie (from 2001 Maniacs, pictured below on the left) plays Ahab as a young man, before his encounter with the Great White Whale leaves him with scars and a purpose in life.
We can check out how the mighty White Whale fares on November 23.
More pictures in the Gallery below.
Incidentally, scientists recently discovered evidence of a giant prehistoric sperm whale that lived some 12 to 13 million years ago and was “a 14-metre behemoth” (Nature says 13.5 to 17.5 metres). It was definitely up the top of the primeval oceanic food-chain, with teeth and jaws so huge it probably hunted other whales half its size. They named it Leviathan melvillei, after the author of Moby Dick.
The diagram on the right compares the size of the Leviathan’s skull and jaws to the size of a man.
The prehistoric sperm whale gripped large prey with its interlocking teeth, inflicting deep wounds and tearing large pieces from the body of its victims, the researchers said.
Palaeontologists have long suspected that some such air-breathing monster once roamed ancient seas, but until now only a few gigantic teeth had turned up in the fossil record.
The new find in Peru’s Pisco basin, reported in the British journal Nature, leaves no doubt that Leviathan existed, terrorising major marine fauna of the Miocene epoch….
“It must have eaten very large animals, and the most common prey at the site are baleen whales about seven or eight metres long. It was a super-predator,” [Olivier Lambert of Belgium’s Royal Institute of Natural Sciences] said.
… Leviathan more closely resembles modern orcas, or killer whales — except it was three or four times as big. Its tusk-like teeth must have been very robust and resistant in order to hang on to a mega-prey trying desperately to escape… (Source: ABC News)
- Source: Paul Bales and Asylum website via Kaiju Search-Robot Avery. Written by Robert Hood.