Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Who knew the ocean was that deep?

The Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956)
Starring: Kent Taylor, Kathy Downs, and Michael Whale
Director: Dan Milner
Rating: One of Ten Stars

When dead fishermen and skin-divers start washing up on the beach near a small university, with radiation burns on their bodies, marine researcher and scientific genius crack-pot Dr. Ted Stevens (Taylor) senses that maybe it is his theories that have been put to nefarious use. He hooks up with the beautiful Lois (Downs), the daughter of a marine researcher who is at the very least Stevens' equal in the scientific genius crack-pot department, Prof. King (Whale). Can it be that King has accidentially (or purposefully) created a super-weapon using oceanography and atomic radition? The agents of sinister foreign powers and the square-jawed Defense Department investigators think so... and the bizarre sea creature lurking in the waters off the coast tends to agree with the theory as well.

"The Beast from 10,000 Leagues" is a Z-grade example of the 1950s-style sci-fi/monster flick where a scientist successful proves that we won't have better living through science, and that there really are Secrets Man Was Not Meant to Know.

Unfortunately, the extreme low buget (much of which was probably spent on a rather nicely done special effect toward the end of the movie--assuming that wasn't footage borrowed from some other movie), tragically bad and dull camera work, the same rowboat used in every shot that requires a boat, a goofy-looking sea monster whose preferred method of attack seems to be hugging his victims to death, and a script that's even more illiterate than the film's title might imply add up to a disaster of a movie. Its only saving grace is that it moves along fast enoug, and offers enough moments of unintetional comedy, to not send the viewer completely into a boredom coma.

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