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TENTACLES (TENTACOLI) (director: Oliver Hellman; screenwriters: Steven W. Carabatsos/Tito Carpi; cinematographer: Roberto D’Ettorre Piazzoli; editor: A.J. Curi; music: Stelvio Cipriani; cast: John Huston (Ned Turner), Shelley Winters (Tillie Turner), Bo Hopkins (Will Gleason), Henry Fonda (Mr. Whitehead, President of Trojan Construction), Delia Boccardo (Vicky Gleason), Cesare Danova (John Corey), Claude Akins (Sheriff Robards); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Enzo Doria; MGM/UA Home Entertainment; 1977)
“A Jaw’s rip-off.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A Jaw’s rip-off, and of many other horror pics. Italian director Oliver Hellman(“Chi Sei?“/”Scared to Death”/”The Spawning”)keeps it banal, uninteresting and witless. It’s based on a story by Steven W. Carabatsos and Tito Carpi.

Famous big city investigative journalist, the grizzled Ned Turner (John Huston), comes to a seaside resort in California, Solano Beach, to snoop around and get answers for the mysterious cause of deaths of an infant, a boatyard worker and a pair of scuba divers who were mangled to death while checking equipment for a drilling company (all vics were stripped to the bone, with even their marrows missing) by maybe the same sea monster. Sheriff Robards (Claude Akins) wishes to keep the lid on things and not cause a panic.Mr. Whitehead (Henry Fonda), whose Trojan construction company is building a tunnel in the bay, is worried about his company’s reputation when the respected journalist claims something doesn’t add up about Trojan’s response after he interviewed their chief executive Corey (Cesare Danova) and believes the construction job might have polluted the sea. It’s later discovered that an octopus mutated into a killer giant, caused by vibrations from the tunnel drilling and from illegal radio frequencies authorized by corrupt executive Corey (interestingly enough, there’s no punishment for the company). Things become more melodramatic when a sailing regatta is run and Ned’s divorced sister Tillie (Shelley Winters) has her sweet son Tommy in the race and the giant octopus is on the loose.

Oceanographer Will Gleason (Bo Hopkins), who rose to prominence from the slums, is called in to give us his expert opinion, and when the marine biologist’s foxy scuba diving wife (Delia Boccardo) gets eaten by the monster he gets his two trained killer whales to go after the sea monster by having a face to face chat with the killer whales to save the day and believe it or not they respond to their loving handler.

If it only had some humor and wasn’t so inert, it could have been a contender for a decent horror flick. The acting was atrocious, while the story line was lame. The film’s only funny moment was unintentional when it had the plump Winters sporting a giant sombrero and acting flustered, and looking as if she would have been better cast in the role of the sea monster (who was dressed with a rubber tentacle and a rubber head).


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”