Warlords of Atlantis (1978) – movie review

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Warlords of Atlantis (1978)

directed by Kevin Connor aka: Warlords of the Deep

Doug McClure
Peter Gilmore
Cyd Charisse
Lea Brody

We follow the underwater expedition of a British crew on the ship, Texas Rose, aiming to explore the deep sea in a diving bell. Attended by the scientist and the technician/creator, the bell lowers thru a deep crevasse where it’s attacked by a sea monster, a plesiosaur, that threatens to rip the vessel apart. The wide shots of this creature are decent but the close ups of this beast revealwarlords of atlantis - poster it to be a bit Muppet-looking. Naturally when they find the secret entrance to Atlantis, the Atlantians aren’t happy. They send a giant Kraken out to attack and bring the whole crew down to the underwater city. The men wash ashore upon an inner-world where they are taken prisoner. The Atlantians plan to enslave them, as they have enslaved seafarers for eons.  There are giant creatures resembling a Glyptodont that periodically attack the Atlantis city and its during one of those attacks that our band of adventurers make their escape.

The film is pure schlock and I can’t help laughing at some of the events and dialogue. Doug McClure is supposed to be American so he mangles his American accent delivering his lines like a Bowery Boy with a bad attitude. Peter Gilmore does a decent job with his part as the scientist, though he’s stiff in the beginning and it takes him most of the film to  warm up to his character. Lea Brody plays the slave girl who helps the crew escape. There are massive sets depicting the city of Atlantis, but clearly the film should have used more of its budget on rehearsing the actors.

The crew are attacked by jumping piranhas during the escape. The first few are choreographed well, but it devolves into a jumbled mess of rubber fish being hurled at the actors. Eventually they get to the end of the river and the diving bell gets flushed down a toilet (that’s what it looks like) and returns to the ship. Sad to say but the best actor in the film is the Giant Octopus. In the finale it attacks the boat delivering a fine action sequence for the monster fan. The monster FX were done be Roger Dicken who had created the dinosaurs for The Land That Time Forgot. This film was the 4th Fantasy adventure film by Connor, the first 3 being Amicus Films.

warlords of atlantis 1978 - promo shot

The film is worth a watch for fans of old style monster flicks and fantasy adventure for its pure schlock and unintended humorous aspects.

don’t forget to scroll over each pic to see my comments, my awkward attempts at humor 🙂 or click on a pic and enter the gallery…

warlords of atlantis - behind the scenes

Latitude Zero (1969) – movie review

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Latitude Zero (1969)

Directed by Iroshi Honda
Special effects by EJ Tutsaburu

stars: Joseph Cotten, Cesar Romero, Akira Takarada, Masumi Okada, Richard Jaeckel, Patricia Medina, and Akihiko Hirata

This is a fantasy science fiction film from Toho that seems like an homage to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I probably would’ve appreciated this more if I had seen it as a kid. There’s a Muppet looking flying lion and funky looking bat/human creatures. A small team of scientists researching an underwater volcano dive to the depths of the ocean in a dumbbell. An explosive eruption rips the dumbbell from its tethers and sends it freefalling through the deep waters. There it’s picked up by a super submarine of unknown origin. After meeting the captain and being inspected by a very pleasant latitude zero posterfemale doctor, they head for the underwater home base.

LZ depicts an underwater world with two technically advanced yet warring tribes looking to control the lands beneath the artificial Sun. There’s some impressive submarine dog-fights with heat seeking torpedoes and an underwater laser Canon. Once in the domed city of Latitude Zero the scientists discover a perfect Utopian world, a perfect society and existence for its inhabitants. Caesar Romero plays Malic, the bad guy trying to break thru the city’s force field defense systems and take over the land. Sneaking into Malic’s lair to free a hostage, (LZ’s top scientist) the men are confronted by giant rats with glowing red eyes, beds of sulfur gas, and an acid moat. The bat-humans fly pretty smoothly but in some spots you can see the wires.

This was a rare Toho film shot in English with American and Japanese actors. The Japanese actors learned the English needed for the script. The script was written by Ted Sherdeman, who also penned the script for Them!. It’s interesting to hear the sound effects and music queues usually associated with Kaiju monsters played in this fantasy adventure. Comparisons to the lost city of Atlantis are evident. The submarine and underwater scenes show some achievement in special effects. It’s the fantasy creatures themselves that are the biggest drawback for me. I would say that if you had seen this as a youngster it would offer some measure of nostalgia. However, to me it seems more aimed at children than adults.

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Mixed results in FX both propel and hinder this underwater fantasy adventure. 
Will probably only be appreciated by Toho completists and nostalgic viewers.

Island of the Fish Men (1979) – movie review

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Island of the Fishmen coverIsland of the Fish Men (1979)
(aka: Screamers – 1981)
Directed by Sergio Martino

A ship transporting prisoners gets lost in storm and fog near the Caribbean Islands. They are thrown upon the rocks of an uncharted island and shipwrecked. The survivors, Claude, a naval officer and doctor, and several prisoners wash up on shore of this strange island. Men start disappearing in the salty marshes as they search for fresh water. They are stopped by a woman, Amanda, (Barbara Bach) on horseback who first tells them they must leave the island. Then they’re invited back to an estate, the only shelter on the island. They are greeted by the owner of the private island, Edmond Rackman (Richard Johnson) and a voodoo priestess who commands a tribe of natives to do Edmond’s dirty work. When a suspicious Claude (Claudio Cassinelli) investigates he is attacked by strange looking fishmen with Piranha-like heads and scaled skin but he is saved by Amanda. He finds out that the island is near a submerged lost city. Edmond uses these Fishmen to dive for the sunken treasures, gold and jewels, of the lost city. A scientist working with Edmond, Professor Marvin (Amanda’s Father), tells Claude the fishmen are the last survivors of Atlantis and he gets them to dive in exchange for drugs. Yes, he has them addicted to a milky drug that keeps them diving for gold. Only later do we find out that Marvin is actually turning the natives into these creatures, a point that echoes the Island of Doctor Moreau. Natives revolt, fishmen go on a feeding frenzy, a volcano erupts, Claude and Amanda fall in love and attempt to escape the sinking island.

There is tons of stuff going on in this film but somehow it works. Tightly shot to build tension in the beginning of the film, it opens to grand shots of island jungle, native ceremony, and underwater shots of swimming fishmen and the massive lost city. The Fishmen themselves look a bit silly by today’s standards but work well for this creature-feature style flick. The US released version Screamers is edited with added scenes and a new beginning, hardly necessary for the film, so I would recommend getting/watching the “Fishmen” version (Mya Entertainment). Enjoyable as a fun Saturday afternoon monster flick with some high island adventure thrown in, not to be taken too seriously. I hear there was even a sequel.