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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Attack Of The Octopus People (2010)

Starring Joshua Kennedy, Andrea Negrete, Joshua Palacios, Alex Villarreal, Kat Kennedy
Directed by Joshua Kennedy
(actor & director credits courtesy

A young man returns home from military service to take a job at a seafood manufacturer, and discovers a conspiracy there to take over humanity by creatures from the deep.

Joshua Kennedy's debut feature is an ode to classic sci-fi films of the 1950s and beyond, filmed during his teenage years, with a cast populated by his family and friends, and everyone looks like they're having a lot of fun.  Although the picture features references to movies like The Tingler and It Conquered The World and a soundtrack assembled from the film scores of composer Herman Stein, the story is an original one, and what Kennedy lacks in his limited budget, he makes up for in the exuberance of the film, which launches octopus toys and puppets across the screen with all the seriousness of a creature feature filmed on the Universal-International lot.

A lot of us played around with movie cameras at a young age, but few probably put together anything like this film, which is impressively edited and never drags.  The sets may be primarily rooms at Kennedy's house or school, with furniture sometimes hidden behind hanging sheets, and computer printouts standing in for official signs, but I didn't care, as Josh's strong narrative sense propels the story along.  All the hallmarks of the 1950s features are here, from the prologue that introduces us to Josh Palacios' well-spoken villain, the sweet romance between Kennedy's hero and love interest Negrete, the eerie focus on the octopi bursting from their captive containers, introductions of suspicious characters like Kat Kennedy's cantankerous hotel manager, and the crowds running in terror once the sea creatures take to the streets.

Yes, the special effects are not very convincing, and the octopus props not all that effective, and a few scenes would have benefitted from some post-dubbing, but that doesn't negate the impressiveness of this accomplishment for a boy of Kennedy's age.  

Kennedy's plea to a frightened theater audience, lifted almost verbatim from a Vincent Price film, shows off his fine rich voice which would be a definite asset in his later films, and friends of Josh should smile at a sequence in which he manages to share the screen with one of his cinema heroes.  It's not many who can capture their childhood in a piece of work that manages to last, but I think he'll look back on this work fondly for years to come.

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