Trivia Also know as Water Cyborgs and The Great Undersea War
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Terror Beneath the Sea (1966)
27th Nov 05
Sonny chiba saves the swinging 60s from a bunch of cross-eyed gill men.
Picture the swinging 60s, Japan. Ken (Sonny Chiba) is an action adventure reporter who at the beginning of this film takes his blonde side-kick Jenny (Peggy Neal) who screams a lot to a press demonstration of a new type of underwater homing torpedo. This consists of a load of smartly dressed folk and a couple of scientists huddled round a cheap TV set watching miniature submarine models in a tank shooting flimsy missiles on wires that turn and blow up with cheap sparkler effects, i.e. all is going well, when suddenly we see an underwater man pass by the camera and Jenny starts screaming. In a panic the military officials end the press conference and will take no questions until they've investigated the matter thoroughly.
But Ken, being an action adventure reporter, decides to do some investigating of his own and takes Jenny diving to look for this underwater man. He finds what he's looking for soon enough after a spot of pleasant underwater diving footage, but he gets far more than he bargained for. It's not one underwater man but a whole army of rubbery gill men, ruled over by the maniacal Dr. Moore (Erik Neilson) in his secret underwater city. After a brief chop-socky struggle with Jenny screaming a lot again they are captured and forced to watch really long stop-frame sequences of a human being turned into a gill man, while Dr. Moore does the evil laugh thing and explains his crackpot plan to take over the world.
Meanwhile the military, presumably embarrassed by the whole gill-man-at-the-press-conference thing, send out an atomic sub to investigate. After a shoddy sub plot about dumped nuclear waste and some submarine character drama (who cares? Get back to the gill men!), the sub finally stumbles across Moore's underwater base (yay!). But are they in time to save Ken and Jenny from being turned into gill men? Will Dr. Moore triumph with his aquatic army and rule the world? Or will the military save the day by using that kooky homing missile from the beginning in a climatic under sea miniatures battle? Hmmm, what do you think?
Terror Beneath the Sea is essentially a campy 60s monster action movie that, despite its obvious cheapness, is a lot of fun. Sonny Chiba doesn't get to do a lot of that hardnosed kung-fu that he became famous for later in the Street Fighter series, but he's still value for money even though he's been dubbed into a deep American accent. Jenny the side-kick has an irritating line in screaming a lot in the face of any peril, but give her credit she can scream well and she is decent eye candy. The homoerotic relationship between the Sub commander and his lieutenant is very amusing (but only suggested of course) as is the crazed Dr. Moore who always wears sun glasses even if he is underwater. But the main reason to watch this movie, and worth the purchase price alone for some of us, is obvious the second you look at the DVD cover. By that I'm obviously talking about those horrifically fantastic gill men costumes.
The golden rule when you make a movie monster mask is to make sure the eyes look good and it's here they dropped the ball big time. With these gill men they forgot to make the monsters’ eye sockets point forward, which means when they came to add pupils to the eyes, the only way to make it look like the monsters were focusing forward was to give them an unfortunate stupid cross-eyed look. This means that no matter how straight the actors play it, every scene involving these cross-eyed gill men is timelessly funny. Picture it; cross-eyed gill men going “Grrr!” at people, cross-eyed gill men shooting guns, cross-eyed gill men wrestling with Sonny Chiba, and cross-eyed gill men wrestling with other cross-eyed gill men; absolutely brilliant.
I’ve got a lot of time for these ridiculous 60s monster movies, and this is great value in terms of its chuckle factor. I think by now you too have probably made up your mind as to whether this movie’s for you, so what more can I say? Get yourself stocked up on the old vino, gather some friends and some pizzas, and settle back for some ridiculous monster fun. You know what I’m saying, u-huh, keep your eyes peeled for this one appearing at a Zombie Club near you soon.
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