The film that kickstarted B-movie legend Roger Corman’s career in 1954 is a surprisingly well-made no-budget schlocker about a young woman investigating claims of a sea monster off the coast of Mexico. 5/10
Monster from the Ocean Floor. 1954, USA. Directed by Wyott Ordung. Written by Bill Danch. Starring: Anne Kimbell, Stuart Wade, Dick Pinner, Wyott Ordung. Produced by Roger Corman. IMDb: 3.6/10. Rotten Tomatoes: N/A. Metacritic: N/A.
People have been mysteriously disappearing in the sea outside a small coastal village in Mexico. US illustrator Julie Blair (Anne Kimbell) starts investigating rumours of a giant sea monster after a diver disappears from his still intact diving suit, as if dissolved into water. She is reluctantly helped by the chauvinist skeptic Steve Dunning (Stuart Wade), a marine biologist stationed with his boat and a small crew at the same village. However, the local spinner of old wives’ tales, Tula (Inez Palange), convinces the town drunk Pablo (Wyott Ordung) that “the fair one” must be sacrificed to soothe the beast, and Pablo sets out to sabotage Julie’s dives, at one point by attracting the resident man-eating shark, and at another by emptying her scuba tank. Fortunately, Pablo is not the canniest of assassins, as he fails to take into consideration the fact that when you’re scuba tank is empty, you can always head for the surface for air. He also fails to predict that Julie is one kickass broad, capably fending off the shark attack.
Meanwhile, when Steve isn’t paddling around in his manually powered one-man submarine, he spends most of the movie chatting up Julie, telling her a pretty little girl like her shouldn’t go around worrying about fictional sea monsters. His smug attitude changes when he and his colleague Dr. Baldwin (Dick Pinner) reluctantly analyse a piece of flesh caught in Julie’s anchor. They determine it comes from a giant amoeba-like creature, which dissolves its prey by touch. It’s origin? Naturally, the Bikini nuclear tests. “Why it could dissolve a man!” exclaims Steve. Dr. Baldwin dryly adds: “Or a woman”. Realising the danger that Julie is in, the science team, including assistant Tommy (Roger Corman), set out to sea with their heroic little submarine in tow, hoping to save Julie (who up to this point has seemed to be in no need of rescuing, thwarting shark attacks and murder attempts all on her own, while Steve has been more interested in sipping martinis on deck). Well, turns out this is one of the instances when the smug hero of these kinds of films actually gets to do something heroic in the end (even of the heroic sub does most of the work).
In 1954 science fiction had thoroughly broken through into pop culture mainstream, aided by both an optimism about science and technology, as well as a fear of science gone wrong. And in a time of cold-war tension, sci-fi was the perfect vehicle for social and political allegories. The early fifties saw the birth of nuclear energy and the hydrogen bomb, the credit card and the transistor radio. Of course, very little of this has much bearing on Monster from the Ocean Floor, except that budding producer Roger Corman knew that science fiction was popular, and that he could make a buck out of it on a shoestring budget. The ramifications of this movie were, however, gargantuan. Not as huge, perhaps, as the heart-lung-machine, the first commercial computer or TV dinner, but for American filmmaking the emergence of Roger Corman would resound throughout history just as loudly as that of George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. In fact, both of these gentlemen stand in deep debt to Mr. Corman.
Of the nearly 60 films he directed and close to 400 he produced or co-produced, several are likely to be found on lists over the worst movies ever made. But dubbed ”the king of B movies”, few producers have been able to so definitely pin down exactly what components constitute an enjoyable film experience, and how to put them all together in the most cost-effective way. Corman made cheap B movies for a fraction of the costs of his contemporaries, often faster than anyone else in the business, but still managed to make his films look slicker and better than the competition’s. He gathered around him an ever-changing ragtag team of film students, up-and-coming filmmakers, friends and family, employed them for peanuts, and dropped them as soon as they started asking for serious pay. But his films almost always had a heart and some sort of moral at their core, and whether they’re watched today for the thrills or for the laughs, any self-respecting film student should study Corman closely. And many did. In fact, as Corman himself has stated, in the seventies his admirers like the afore mentioned Lucas and Spielberg, started making ”Corman movies” on big budgets for big film studios.
Corman’s first film involvement was as writer on Highway Dragnet (1954), which is just one cult film of many he has left in his wake. Others include The Fast and the Furious (1955), Day the World Ended (1955), Not of This Earth (1957), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), House of Usher (1960), Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Intruder (1962), The Raven (1963), X (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), Wild Angels (1966), The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967), Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets (1972, Martin Scorsese’s Boxcar Bertha (1972), Jonathan Demme’s Caged Heat (1974), Death Race 2000 (1975), Ron Howard’s Grand Theft Auto (1977), Joe Dante’s Piranha (1978) and Allan Arkush’s Rock n’ Roll High School (1979). Just to name a few. Other big names that have passed through the Roger Corman school of filmmaking are people like James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola and Timur Bekmambetov.
So, where did it all start? Well, it started with an engineering student at Stanford who, after graduating, got a lousy job as a mail boy at 20th Century Fox, didn’t want to work in engineering, went off to study English literature at Oxford, and returned to try and make it as a screenwriter in Hollywood, and sold his first script in 1954 for what would become Highway Dragnet, directed by Nathan Juran. Roger Corman didn’t like the way the film turned out, and through what he had seen from his time on movie sets, he thought he could make films much more efficiently than they were being made. In his mind, studios were wasting money not only on overhead costs, but also on unnecessary personnel, shots, sets, props. The works, really. A cheap B movie at that time usually cost somewhere between 80 000 and 150 000 dollars to make. Corman figured he could make a movie that was just as good as these films for 20 000 dollars. Which is just what he did with Monster from the Ocean Floor.
The origin of the script was an ad Corman saw for a company selling one-man paddle-driven submarines. This was a year after the release of the box-office hit The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953, review), just around the time of the release of Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954, review). And at the time audiences were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Disney’s underwater epic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). One of the reasons for this fad for underwater movies was that scuba gear had recently been invented, opening up whole new possibilities, not only for underwater research and leisure diving, but also for underwater filmmaking. Corman called up the company in question and asked them if there was any way they would let him use one of their submarines for free, and they were more than happy to oblige, in return for a plug for the product at the end and the beginning of the film. This crucial piece of prop secured, Corman sat down to write a script along with his friend Bill Danch, a writer for radio and TV, later best known for writing for animated children’s TV shows like Mr. Magoo, Popeye the Sailor, My Favourite Martian, Spider-Man and Fat Albert.
Corman had no money, wanted to produce the film independently, so he did the only thing he could: he founded his own Palo Alto Pictures and went around begging friends and family to put in 500 dollars each for a percentage of the profits. With most of the money raised, he was still without a director, so he called upon a friend of a friend, Wyott Ordung, who had recently written the script for the wonderfully bad Robot Monster (1953, review), and harboured directing ambitions. In a 1984 interview by the magazine Fangoria, quoted in Bill Warren’s book Keep Watching the Skies! Ordung says that he helped raise the remaining money in exchange for the privilege of directing the film: ”I also acted in the picture, cast the picture – I got all the crew, ’cause Corman didn’t have anybody”. Ordung was able to secure Oscar winner Floyd Crosby as cinematographer – Crosby had just a year previously picked up a Golden Globe for his work on High Noon (1952). So with a skeleton crew, a director who acted and directed for free, a product-placed mini-sub and a six-day shooting schedule, team Corman told the unions they were going to film in Mexico, but actually sneaked out to Malibu Beach in Los Angeles, where they shot most of the film.
What’s unusual about the film is that the protagonist is a woman. This feminist leanings of Corman’s would be obvious in several later films, but weighing in on the decision as well was probably the fact that he figured that the audience, consisting mostly of juvenile boys, would rather spend their time gawking at a girl in a swimsuit than a guy. But it’s quite refreshing to see a strong female lead in a movie such as this: Julie is headstrong, fearless and takes charge from the get-go. It’s hard, however, to understand what he sees in the condescending, chauvinist Steve. But I guess that’s just another movie mystery.
Anne Kimbell plays Julie with great integrity, curiosity and warmth, and it is quite possibly the most sympathetic portrait of a woman in a leading role from the science fiction movies of the fifties. Kimbell really pushes this film past the droves of bland B monster movies of the fifties – be it that she sometimes feels a little bit too perky and enthusiastic. It’s really Ellen Ripley 25 years before Ellen Ripley. There is one moment where the script lapses, and has her tripping over her feet and fainting when glimpsing the monster for the first time. It’s just for a few seconds, but it’s so jarringly out of character, that it stays with you through the film, like an itch you can’t scratch. Furthermore, the script really doesn’t give Kimbell much to work with.
Stuart Wade is slapped with what must be one of the most poorly written leads in movie history, and comes off as a patronising buffoon throughout the whole film. All he really gets to do is paddle his submarine, speak science gibberish and deliver awful lines like “Julie, you’re a lovely girl, but lovely girls just don’t run around worrying about non-existing sea monsters”. Dick Pinner as Dr. Baldwin is no Oscar contender either, but there is something likeable about the stiff way he plays his character, and it sort of reminds me of Dr. Spengler in Ghostbusters. Pinner had a bit-part in It Came from Outer Space (1953, review), and appeared in The Fast and the Furious, but probably realised that acting wasn’t what he was best at, and dropped out of the business after appearing in only seven films.
Remarkable for a film set in Mexico is that there are no Latinx in it. Wyott Ordung does a lively and sympathetic town drunk Pablo, who reluctantly tries to kill Julie, but has a change of heart in the end. His attempt at a Mexican actress is terrible, though. Then there’s the character Joe, a local sea captain whose friend is the guy who dissolves through his diving suit. He’s played by Jonathan Haze, a friend of Ordung’s, who was literally picked up from his job at a gas station to appear in the movie. He grew an impressive handlebar moustache and a likewise terrible Spanish accent. Haze did have some acting chops, and became a darling of Corman’s, appearing in several of his movies, and even branched out as producer, writer and miscellaneous crew on other productions. Would you believe he appeared in a bit-part in Elia Kazan’s East of Eden (1955), starring James Dean? Haze also appeared in Day the World Ended, The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955), It Conquered the World (1956), Not of This Earth, Teenage Cave Man (1958), Invasion of the Star Creatures (1962) and X.
Last but not least we have Inez Palange, playing the old woman Tula who convinces Pablo that the old gods need a sacrifice. In Monster from the Ocean Floor she is brilliantly hammy, although what immediately strikes me is that she is doing an Eastern European accent although she is supposed to play a Mexican. The reason for this becomes clear in the scene where she orders Pablo to kill Julie: she is doing a brilliant Bela Lugosi impression! Even down to the lines “You will obey my command!” If you haven’t thought about it when watching it, watch it again – it is so obvious once you realise it. Palange was an Italian-born actress, best known for playing Tony’s mother in the 1932 movie Scarface – someone might know her as Tohana from One Million B.C. (1940).
What the Monster from the Ocean Floor actually cost to make is a matter of some debate. Corman himself has stated that he filmed it for 12,000 dollars. Here he is probably talking about the costs for principal photography, but even so, Ordung puts that number at 19,000 dollars, which is probably closer to the truth. Of course, this should be put in perspective to the fact that the Gill-man suit alone in Creature from the Black Lagoon is reported to have cost up to 18,000 dollars to make. And that film is considered a low-budget movie. The final price tag for the finished Monster from the Ocean Floor, all costs counted, is corroborated by Ordung and Corman’s brother Gene Corman, who secured distribution rights with Lippert Pictures, as 39,000 dollars (Gene’s interviewed here by Tom Weaver). Converting these kind of costs into today’s value isn’t quite straightforward, especially since Corman probably broke most union regulations and so forth, but we are probably looking at something that would be around a 300 000 dollar movie today. Which, of course, isn’t enough to even make a blockbuster trailer today. That said, with today’s technology you can make a pretty decent movie outside of Hollywood with that money. But in those days movie making was a lot costlier, since technical equipment, film and lab costs ate up a lot of dough.
For a film made on somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 dollars, Monster from the Ocean Floor is remarkably solid. At 64 minutes, it has a tight, economic script and foregoes the usual rear projection for surprisingly good location footage. Its underwater footage is extraordinarily good for a film of its budget. Roger Corman knows how to make the most out of a relatively small location. By careful blocking, he manages to make Malibu Beach seem like a remote Mexican coast, and is able to shoot it from such angles that it seems we are transported to different places over the course of the film – while, for example, if you shoot as Bronson Canyon, like many low-budget movie makers did, it always looks like Bronson Canyon. Despite paper-thin plot, the non-existing characterisations and the hokey science, the script does make sense and doesn’t really have all that many holes in its logic, once you buy into the premise of the movie.
While the film has a rather static feel, there are just enough cuts between medium and close-up shots, interlaced with the rare wide shot, that it doesn’t feel like the filmmakers just set up a camera and shot all the scenes in two takes – even though that was probably just what they did. This also has to do with the way Corman, or Ordung, has the actors move through the frame. While many low-budget quickies have people entering and exiting the frame from side to side, always moving left to right, the actors in Monster from the Ocean Floor often make use of depth-wise movement, approaching the camera or moving away from it, sometimes diagonally through it, like in the underwater scenes. This gives the movie a much more dynamic feel than many of its peers. And the actors don’t just stand around talking, shot from face height. There’s a scene of Julie and Steve lying on the beach, shot from above, one of Pablo sitting on his porch, shot from below. And so forth. You get the feeling that there’s someone holding the reins who actually knows what he is doing, and cares enough about the film not to just make the obvious talking heads shots. The one thing the film suffers from is the usual low-budget flaw of lack of geography. We never see the village the characters all live in, apart from a pier, a café table and Pablo’s hut. We get no idea how far from the beach the village is. We don’t know if the characters walk or drive there. At one point we see the monster emerging almost from the horizon, but the characters never seem to go any further than 30 yards from the beach to investigate it, which is also the distance where Julie snags it in her anchor, and later where the final battle takes place.
Let’s now talk about that monster for a bit. Anyone who’s watched the movie will probably have reacted to the fact that the monster is constantly referred to as an amoeba, but when it shows up, it looks like an octopus. This wasn’t because Corman didn’t know what an amoeba looks like – he had actually had an amoeba-looking creature designed and filmed. However, test audiences keeled over with laughter when they saw it on screen, and Corman, not yet savvy to the fact that this was a positive reaction, panicked and decided to redesign and re-shoot the monster. Not having time for anything fancy he looked up the noted marionette artist and puppet maker Bob Baker and asked him to whip up a one-eyed glowing octopus and help him shoot it. Baker obliged, and the two scenes with the monster were remade. For the final underwater sequence, Baker and Corman shot the octopus and mini-sub puppets behind a fish tank, in usual low-budget fashion. The monster isn’t particularly convincing, in fact it does look quite laughable. But it isn’t by far the worst monster Corman has paraded in his movies.
On the other hand, apart from Anne Kimbell, the acting is rather appalling and the monster is – sorry to say – quite laughable. Some of the same underwater shots are re-used not just once but sometimes twice of even thrice. And there’s problems with sound. In some shots the lines sort of trail off, and in one particular shot the tone of Steve’s voice is so different from the previous shot, that you wonder if he isn’t dubbed by another actor. Considering that the film takes place on a beach, there’s a peculiar lack of any sort of background noise from the sea or birds other other nature sounds through most of the film. According to Wyott Ordung, sound editor Jack Milner completely saved the film: “The sound was somehow recorded at different speeds than the picture. When we first saw it … I thought [Corman] was gonna die in the projection room. Jack Milner re-cut the sound word for word, he is the hero of that picture.”
Gene Corman tells Tom Weaver that he secured a distribution contract with the small Lippert Pictures, responsible for films like Rocketship X-M (1950, review) and Unknown World (1951, review). Initially the deal was for 110,000 dollars, but when Robert Lippert found out that the filmmakers had spent far less on the making of the movie, he changed the contract – although Gene doesn’t say how much. Anyway, Roger Corman got a 60,000 dollar advance on the distribution deal, which was enough for him to produce his next movie, The Fast and the Furious, and even have some money to spare. Monster from the Ocean Floor eventually grossed over 850,000 dollars worldwide, making its money back 20 times over.
One would expect Monster from the Ocean Floor to have been the kind of picture that was cut to pieces by critics at the time it was released, but in fact it was met with sort of middling critique, even a few positive comments. Ross Burton at the Los Angeles Daily News wrote: “This cinematic venture, we understand, was put together by group of youngsters who are wandering around the periphery of filmdom with a minimum of loot and a maximum of energy. […] For a first effort, the picture isn’t bad, but it’s a long way from a Grade-A product. Weakest factor is a script based on the tired theme of a monster which must be destroyed. The camera work is very well done in spots”. Wylie Williams at the Los Angeles Evening Citizen News noted that the film had “some exciting moments”, and continued: “There is some very interesting underwater photography, and the cast […] plays fairly well, but despite moments of tension, the movie does not rise to heights of terror or suspense”. And Jane Corby at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle called it “a good sea yarn, combining fascinating underwater views with a romantic story”.
The trade press was also positive. Variety wrote: “Here’s an oddity – a well made quickie. […] Monster from the Ocean Floor boasts and interest-holding story-line, good direction and performances”. The magazine went on to praise especially Anne Kimbell’s performance, calling her “an actress of extreme capability”, projecting that “she should go far”. It called Wyott Ordung’s direction “surprisingly good”, and Floyd Crosby’s cinematography “another plus factor”. Boxoffice magazine also noted “good direction and performances”.
As opposed to the usual pattern, Monster from the Ocean Floor seems to have a worse reputation among critics and audiences alike today than it had back in the day. It has a rather poor 3.6/10 rating on IMDb, and not enough entries for a Rotten Tomatoes consensus. But although AllMovie only gives it a 1.5/5 rating, critic Bruce Eder is a lot more positive: “Monster From the Ocean Floor is great fun — the script may contain warnings about the potentially catastrophic developments that can come out of experiments with atomic radiation, but it’s really just an hour’s worth of entertainment, with a little romance and some neat underwater photography (both elements relying on Anne Kimbell’s zaftig figure), and clever use of a puppet monster, built and manipulated by Bob Baker, for its diversions. It’s light years removed from, say, The Abyss, but also a lot less demanding for the rewards that it does provide.” On the other hand TV Guide calls it “a lousy movie”. The SF Encyclopedia bemoans “a somewhat anticlimactic finale”, but praises “its depiction of a generally capable heroine” as “unusual for 1950s cinema”. Back in 1967, Roger Ebert included the film among “some of the worst movies ever made”.
Richard Scheib at Moria gives Monster from the Ocean Floor 2/5 stars, and an uncharacteristically scathing review, calling it “a forgettable B movie in all ways” Scheib continues: “Wyott Ordung’s direction is dull and prosaic. Not much happens and even less that is exciting. There are some particularly bad performances from the actors playing the Mexicans”. Derek Winnert awards the film 1/4 stars: “This simple-minded, tentative, apprentice work is of historical interest, even though it is none too gob-smacking in any department”.
Youtube critic Robin Bailes at Dark Corners Reviews recognises the film’s problems, such as sketchy editing, too much reliance on underwater footage where nothing happens, a weak script and a poorly realised monster. But he concedes: “while [Corman] made much better films than this, he also made way worse. Julie is a strong protagonist, and while Steve is a dick, he admits he was wrong, which is definitely not a given in these films. And it’s interesting to see how, right from the start, Roger Corman, in contrast to so many makers of similar films, knew instinctively how to do just enough.” Glenn Erickson at DVD Savant likewise gives the film a positive review: “Monster from the Ocean Floor always looks more than competent; for commercial entertainment value it compares favorably with Stanley Kubrick’s more artful Fear and Desire made the previous year. […] There’s also the likeable actress in Anne Kimball, an interesting little submarine device, and an exploitable monster. The one-eyed octopus is no special effects winner, but neither is it distractingly silly. In at least a few fish tank shots, the glowing eye is fairly creepy.”
Monster from the Ocean Floor is a wobbly film with problems in most departments. This everyone agrees on. And if you sit down and watch it expecting exciting monster action in the vein of Creature from the Black Lagoon or the Ray Harryhausen films, you will be sorely disappointed. But if you take it for what it is, rather than for what it isn’t, you’ll have a pretty good time with it. The script is silly, but never offensively bad, and it’s quite fun. And while one can argue that there’s an over-reliance on underwater footage, then so was there in Creature from the Black Lagoon. And the film’s only an hour long. Despite some editorial gaffes and sound problems, it’s well structured and has all the components of a functioning movie, and nothing extra — except perhaps for a cringy song number, but it’s short. Anne Kimbell is great and the rest of the cast is at least capable for the purpose of their particular roles. It’s a fun, entertaining B-movie from a first-time director and a first-time producer, made with guerilla tactics on pocket lint and a borrowed mini-sub. What more can you ask for?
The film’s historical pedigree has overshadowed the movie itself. It was the first film produced by Roger Corman, and Wyott Ordung put together a small team of players that would come to form part of the core group of Corman’s ragtag band of brothers for years to come. One of these was cinematographer Floyd Crosby, who helped elevate many Corman films to come. Ordung also introduced Corman to Jonathan Haze and Dick Miller, who both became part of the Corman stock company. Most important, perhaps, Ordung steered Corman towards toward producer James H. Nicholson, with whomhe soon set up American International Pictures, together with Samuel Z. Arkoff.
Anne Kimbell was raised into Hollywood by a mother who was an agent. She began doing voice acting on the radio as a kid and studied drama under Lee Strasberg, and made her film debut in 1947, 19 years old. She received a Bachelor’s in theatre art and a Master’s is women’s studies. In an article in The Gazette she says that she got the role in Monster from the Ocean Floor primarily because she could swim. Surprisingly, Kimbell only had one other leading role, and that was opposite Johnny Sheffield in The Golden Idol (1954), one of 12 films based on the juvenile stories about Bomba the Jungle Boy, a blatant Tarzan ripoff. Of some interest to SF fana may also be that she had a small supporting role in the rather poor 1953 Pollwexfen-Wisberg production Port Sinister (review), as a pretty nurse. Kimbell had a successful stage career, with co-starring roles on Broadway and London. In the late fifties she married a US Foreign Service officer and gave up her acting career in order to be able to follow him around the world on his postings — the couple lived in Switzerland, Germany, Chad and Tunisia before returning to the US, where they divided their time between California and Colorado. In Colorado Kimbell rescued and old theatre which was about to be turned into a laundromat, and revived the theatre tradition in the village of Westcliffe. In this village with a population of around 300 people, she founded the Westcliffe Center of the Performing Arts and the Shakespeare in the Park festival. Kimbell also wrote a few books about her life as a diplomat life, and in later years a spy novel. In Tunisia she developed women’s cultural programs and opened a school for women in Chad. In Hollywood, she appeared in around 20 feature films and as many TV series.
Stuart Wade’s background was primarily in music, he was a band leader and singer, you can hear his lovely baritone here, for example. This would explain that regrettable moment when Steve serenades Julie on the beach with a rendition of My Wild Irish Rose. He might have worked as a voice actor in radio at the time, and thus been picked up for the role – this was his first film, and unfortunately it shows. Wade has another lead in Teenage Monster (1958), but most of his 20 credits are for TV work.
Cinematographer Floyd Crosby often added his considerable skill to Corman’s productions, including to films like The Beast with a Million Eyes, Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), War of the Satellites (1958), Teenage Cave Man and X. He also filmed Hand of Death (1962) and Pajama Party (1964), which, despite the name, actually is a sci-fi film. In 1931 Crosby won an Oscar for his work on Tabu: A Story of the South Seas. The same year he took part in a new experimental research project with the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. The museum writes on its website: “In 1931, an expedition from the Penn Museum introduced a revolutionary new research method in the remote Amazonian jungles of Brazil. Transporting state-of-the-art equipment by sea, air, and river, the team arrived in territory occupied by the Bororo people and recorded an expeditionary film, Matto Grosso, the Great Brazilian Wilderness, incorporating live sound. It was the first time non-Western people were seen and heard on sound-synced film.” Crosby was the cinematographer on the expedition/film crew. And, as mentioned earlier, in 1953 he picked up a Golden Globe for High Noon. Floyd Crosby was also the father of musician David Crosby.
The music by André Brummer is effective, piano for the underwater scenes, drum rolls for the monster and classic eerie music for the rest of the film. It does its job, but doesn’t stand out in any way. Brummer worked on a few dozen B movies in his career, but nothing in particular stands out.
Monster maker Bob Baker was one of those guys that probably worked on dozens of films that we will never know of, because he was almost always uncredited, since many filmmakers didn’t want to acknowledge that their state of the art special effects were actually nothing more than puppets on strings. What we do know is that he created the memorable rat-bat-spider in The Angry Red Planet (1959) and the tall alien in Close Encounters of the Third Kind – which was a marionette. He was also on screen in a number of films and TV shows as a puppeteer, and even had a non-puppeteer role in the Star Trek episode The Man Trap (1966).
Anne Kimbell’s stylish swim suits were created by famous swim suit designer Rose Marie Reed, who specialised in glamorous swim suits that were hugely popular in the fifties and sixties. Her designs can be seen in a number of films, including the iconic white one worn by Annette Funicello in Muscle Beach Party (1964).
Monster from the Ocean Floor. 1954, USA. Directed by Wyott Ordung. Written by Bill Danch. Starring: Anne Kimbell, Stuart Wade, Dick Pinner, Wyott Ordung, Inez Palange, Jonathan Haze, David Garcia, Roger Corman. Music: André Brummer. Cinematography: Floyd Crosby. Editing: Edward Sampson. Production design: Ben Hayne. Sound editor: Jack Milner. Special effects: Bob Baker (monster maker). Bathing suits: Rose Marie Reid. Produced by Roger Corman for Palo Alto Productions.