This was a fun movie to watch.
Ray Harryhausen's special effects really got big with this movie. The Beast is the earliest monster movie that I know of. It was made in 1953 and the effects of the monster rival that of Godzilla with Harryhausen's stop motion genius.
The movie starts off with a nuclear explosion in the arctic. After checking some meters in the area afterward, the scientists/explorers bump into 'The Monster' within a few minutes of the movie's beginning.
Afterward the explorer who saw the monster isn't taken seriously, and much of the film is the main character (who is a physicist) trying to prove that he's not insane by tracking down what the monster could be. Meanwhile there's reports of a 'sea serpant' attacking ships and the reports are slowly moving southward.
The Beast's city attack takes place in Manhattan, which is honestly a great city for a monster on the loose film. The actual monster's special effects are well done. And the storyline behind the monster was well constructed. But it's origin story was that it was an oversized dinosaur that was set free by the atomic bomb. Apparently it had been frozen solid for over 100 million years.
As far as the origin story was concerned, Godzilla beats The Beast. Godzilla is an old radiated dinosaur with a beam (which explains why he's so beefed up), whereas The Beast is an old dinosaur fresh out of the microwave.
As far as comparing The Beast with Godzilla and other Japanese monster flicks, Godzilla takes the cake as far as depth of the film. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms was a comparatively shallow film and mirrors a lot of the same problems that Varan The Unbelievable has with its story, such as not having much to the plot other than the monster.
One thing happened with The Beast that I wasn't counting on. The creators of The Beast brought to the table that the monster on the loose could carry a disease. It's obvious that the makers of Cloverfield were inspired by this part of the film. As these are the only two monster movies I'm aware of that this plot device is used. And especially because there is apparently a screenshot of The Beast attacking Manhattan in the film somewhere.
For all monster movie fans, this film is a must see simply because it's classic. The monster is an amazing creature. The rest of the film, however, is a B movie plotline complete with random romance. Overall, however, worth the 79 minutes it takes to watch it.