Italian genre films made in the 60s, 70s and 80s are a world unto themselves. They have their own inherent logic, cinematic language and tropes that often act as funhouse mirror reflections of those found in genre films made in North America. While there were plenty of original genre films made during Italy's golden years of schlock, North American genre fans like myself tend to be drawn to films that were blatant rip-offs of other (more successful) films. Hence my recent viewing of Tentacles, a Jaws rip-off from 1977. There were and continue to be a shit ton of movies made in an effort to cash-in on the success of Jaws, very few of them are any good. My main issue with Tentacles is that it did not feature enough tentacles. Most of the time that we see the film's killer octopus we're watching stock footage, which isn't particularly effective. Part of what made Jaws and some of its better imitators (Piranha, Alligator) so powerful was the combination of practical effects with limited stock footage. Tentacles overuses stock footage and scenes of real octopuses interacting with poorly made miniatures. There are only a handful of scenes in the movie with practical monster effects. One such scene, which happens about an hour into the film, features a woman being picked up out of the water by a giant tentacle, it's easily my favorite scene in the whole movie. There's a lot more of this movie worth dissecting, be it the cast (mostly classy American actors) or the score or the weird editing choices, but for the most part Tentacles just isn't interesting enough to warrant any significant investment of your time.
Fun Fact: Ovidio G. Assonitis, the director, would later write and produce Piranha II: The Spawning.
(Image from impawards.com)