Country of origin – U.S.A.
Year of release – 1978
Director – Kevin Connor
Stars – Doug McClure, Peter Gilmore, Shane Rimmer
(The following review was contributed by Tim Walker. Tim also writes for his own blog, here.)
The film opens with a dramatic scene of a gigantic meteor hurtling towards prehistoric earth from the dark recesses of space. This meteor strikes the ocean with incredible force, and despite this and the fact it is the size of a small moon, it causes very little destruction, in fact it may as well have been a small rock for all chaos it caused. There was no mega-tsunamis, no earth shattering earthquakes, just a big pile of nothing. But because this is a low budget b-movie, I will forgive them for a complete lack of understanding of basic science. We then cut to a more recent period of time, although the film doesn’t exactly tell us when it is set, I can hazard a guess it is before the first-world war. We are then introduced to our heroes, mainly the square-jawed engineer, Gregory, played by our favourite dinosaur bashing bad-ass, Doug McClure. He has built a specialist diving bell for Professor Charles Aitken played by the ever-reliable Peter Gilmore. The purpose of the diving bell is apparently to go down to look at some fish; I am calling bullshit on that one right now. Gregory and the Professor are accompanied by a small crew of sailors, one of which is John Ratzenberger (the postman in Cheers) and a predictably pessimistic Captain. All the scenes on the boat are very well shot, and were shot on location in the Mediterranean ocean which gives the film the feeling of a higher budget production.
Eventually the time comes for the Professor and Gregory to climb inside the diving bell and be dumped over the side of the boat. During the descent, the bell comes under attack from a long necked sea monster that quickly becomes a pain in the ass for our heroes as the monster keeps sticking it’s head through the open base of the bell and harassing Gregory and the Professor. This scene quickly becomes hilarious, as it turns into almost a Loch Ness version of whack the weasel. Eventually Gregory comes up with plan to deal with this soggy long-necked sod. He decides to electrocute it… he decides to electrocute it wile under the ocean in a metal bell while standing in a pool of water that has been splashed onto the floor. Nobody ever said Gregory was smart. But unbelievably this plan works, and Gregory and the Professor are unharmed, unlike the sea monster who is now deader than the last traces of common sense left in the film.
Soon after this the Professor finds what he really came in search for, a huge cave entrance with a solid gold pillar standing in front of it. The Professor orders the pillar to be brought up to the ships deck, and within seconds of its appearance on the ship the crew start to plot its theft. I don’t know, what is the world coming to when you can not trust a group of swarthy cut throats with a huge amount of gold? Soon the contact line between the bell and the ship is cut by a member of the crew, leaving our heroes stranded under the seas surface. But Justice is swiftly delivered to the crew in the form of a well timed giant octopus attack, the octopus drags the crew and the captain down to the cave that the pillar was found in front of. As Gregory and the Professor see the crew dragged passed the windows of the bell and into the cave, they too are seized by the octopus and dragged into the cave.
Eventually Gregory and the Professor wake up floating in the bell, on the surface of a pool of water in a desert canyon. They get out to find the crew alive, as Gregory and the Professor are not aware of the crews treachery they decide to work together. Suddenly a figure appears dressed like a low budget David Bowie clone, flanked by a group of masked guards that rise from the water armed with tridents. The Bowie clone tells them he is going to take them to the city of Troy. Unable to refuse due to the guards, our heroes and the crew agree. On the trek to Troy, the Professor discovers that they are in fact in the meteor that we saw crash at the beginning of the film, and that said meteor was in fact the entire kingdom of Atlantis. After an encounter with a millipede/frog/fish monster they reach Troy, which isn’t all that it seems.
To say that this film was very easy to watch is an understatement; it has likeable characters, fun monster effects and a ton of charm. I only have one problem with the film, and it is the pacing. It really is all over the place, at times it will take ten minutes to do something that could have been done in two. And sometimes they rush through something that I would have liked to have seen more of, in a matter of seconds. This is probably due to budget constraints, and I can forgive them for that, but it does effect the overall watchablity of the film. So all things considered I am going to give this one a 6.5/10. I think if you enjoyed some of the directors’ other films like At Earths Core, and The People That Time Forgot you will get a lot of enjoyment out this one.
– Written by Tim Walker.