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11 Deep Facts About The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms

It's probably been a long time since you've even thought about The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, and it's possible you've never even seen it. The groundbreaking 1953 film turned out to be a confluence of talent that gave rise to a renaissance of monster movies. It was based on a Ray Bradbury story. It was the first film in which the special effects were overseen by Ray Harryhausen. And it influenced Tomoyuki Tanaka as he produced another movie called Godzilla. Harryhausen talked about the movie's monster, a reptile called a Rhedosaurus.


“I had to create a mythical dinosaur,” Harryhausen recalled. In his early concept art, he fitted the reptile with pointy ears, a sharp beak, and webbed, human-like hands. Another design sported what Harryhausen described as “sort of a round head.” Unhappy with this particular noggin, he replaced it with a new skull modeled after that of a Tyrannosaurus rex. The monster was then given a distinctive, four-legged stance to prevent it from looking like a “typical” carnivorous dinosaur.

By the way, there’s a long-standing fan theory about this fictitious animal. In the film, our villain is dubbed the “Rhedosaurus.” You may notice that the first two letters in its name spell out the animator’s initials. Was this a deliberate homage? Harryhausen thought not. “I don’t know where his name came from,” he told Empire in 2012. “People say it’s based on my initials, but I don’t think it is.”   

Learn more about The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms at Mental Floss.

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