One of many films to come out in the wake of "Jaws", the people using a beach in California start to go missing at an alarming rate, but it's not something in the water.... Nubile teenage girls, old ladies walking their dogs and nerdy types with metal detectors are all being picked off by something nasty lurking underneath the sand.
The first person to realise something's amiss is the head of the local harbour patrol, Harry Caulder (David Huffman), who's elderly neighbour has disappeared, along with her dog which later turns up horribly mangled. But the investigating detectives, a gruff Sergeant named Royko (Burt Young), who's originally from Chicago, and the mild mannered Lieutenant Piantadosi (Otis Young, no relation to Burt) are stumped as to what's going on.
But when several people are horribly mutilated by something they claim attacked them from below, the police realise there's definitely something nasty under the beach. Seems there's a giant carnivorous mutant sandworm on the loose and it's snacking on the local beach goers. But how do you stop something that's buried deep underground?
Originally released back in 1980, the movie became a huge hit on video back in the day and is still regarded as something of a cult classic today. The scenes of people being swallowed up by the sand are quite effective, so much so that the idea was also 'borrowed' to good effect for the film "Tremors" some 10 years later. There's also a funny streak of black humour that runs through the film. Partly with the foul mouthed Sgt Royko, who's always banging on about how he used to sort out criminals back in Chicago, but most notably a scene where a would-be rapist gets his just desserts, when his lower abdomen is bitten off.
Definitely one for cult movie fans, the film also benefits from a good supporting cast, including the aforementioned Burt Young and horror veteran John Saxon, who plays the police chief, who also has some choice lines of dialogue. Strangely, the film has yet to surface on DVD, aside from some obscure grey-market releases, though it can still be seen occasionally on some of the more obscure movie channels on TV.
If you like corny 80s monster movies, then this one is definitely worth checking out. Though at the moment, the best way of seeing this is to hunt round some video sharing sites like YouTube..