Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues (1955)

There’s nothing like a good monster from the deep movie. And unfortunately The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues is nothing like a good monster from the deep movie. But it does feature a man-in-a-rubber-suit monster so it can’t be all bad.

People keep turning up dead on the beach in some small seaside town somewhere in the US. They have radiation burns, which immediately causes the locals to suspect the oceanographic institute nearby. Because, you know, oceanographers are well-known for dabbling in stuff like death rays and atomic energy. Well as it happens the work of Dr King at the Pacific Oceanographic Institute is mostly concerned with death rays and atomic energy.

Two government investigators are despatched to the town. One of them is an oceanographer whose work mainly focuses on death rays and atomic energy. I’m starting to think that whoever wrote the screenplay had a pretty serious grudge against oceanographers.

The radiation burns are caused by a beam of radioactive light coming from the ocean floor. And of course where you have beams of radioactive light you can be pretty certain you’ll have monsters as well. It’s actually the monster who is causing these people’s deaths - he keeps tipping them out of their boats and once in the water they’re zapped by the beam of radioactive light. Now if none of that makes any sense to you that’s probably because you’re not an oceanographer.

The government men are not the only ones on the scene. There’s also a glamorous blonde spy. She looks every inch like a glamorous blonde spy but unfortunately she doesn’t do much. It seems than being a spy mostly involves lying on the beach working on your tan. It’s not as exciting as being an oceanographer but it’s probably a lot safer. She has an accomplice to do her dirty work for her, which is one of the perks attached to being a glamorous blonde spy.

Luckily the movie only runs for 80 minutes but even at that length it’s slow and ponderous. If you want to make a monster-from-the-deep man-in-a-rubber-suit movie that takes itself seriously you need to be pretty good. Universal got away with it with their Creature from the Black Lagoon but the makers of The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues don’t have what it takes. The safest approach to take to this sort of thing is to go for pure fun, as Del Tenney did so successfully with The Horror of Party Beach. Sadly there’s not a lot of fun to be had with The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues.

The acting is dull, the special effects are unexciting, the plot is predictable. At the end we discover that There Are Things We Should Not Tamper With.

The monster is very very silly, which is one of the few good things about this movie.

This movie is available in Region 4 paired with another low-budget sci-fi/horror feature, Attack of the Giant Leeches. It’s a truly horrible print but I guess this is a movie that nobody is likely to bother doing any kind of restoration on.

1 comment:

The Film Connoisseur said...

This looks almost as crazy and silly as Bela Lugosis The Devil Bat (1940), a film about a giant monster bat who kills anyone wearing a certain kind of perfume? Films from the 40's and 50's got so extremely silly at times!