25 January 2018

TERROR BENEATH THE SEA/KAITEI DAISENSO/1966

When I first began watching Terror Beneath the Sea/Kaitei Daisenso (with a very, very young Sonny Chiba who is, these days, best known as Hattori Hanzo from the Kill Bill films) it looked like it was going to some sort of Creature from the Black Lagoon spin-off. But it wound up being nothing of the sort, and turned out to be rather a sort of 60’s spy thriller with some “gill men” type creatures created by some evil scientists at the bottom of the sea floor. It is directed for Toei Films by Hajime Sato who directed The Golden Bat (for Toei) and Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (Shochiku) and it is not a bad looking film at all. Of course is utterly campy in the classic 60’s Japanese sci-fi/horror/spy flick tradition and succeeds in that department. There are a lot of Anglo faces in this one both on the screen and behind it in terms of cast and crew. The dialog is pretty bad and seems to be shot in English in many scenes. I am not sure, but you can tell sometimes in these films. The right sounding words come out when the lips move. Freaky, not used to it. Chiba’s handsome Ken character has a white girlfriend which is an interesting aspect of these films from this period. They sometimes showed a Japanese guy with a white girl but it is not easy to find the reverse relationship too often. In fact I cannot recall one single Japanese sci-fi type flick of the period where a Japanese girl had a white boyfriend. But if it is Sonny Chiba then it is the gal who is lucking out anyway. I don't know why that matters to me, but for some reason it does. Most of the American guys in these films are portrayed as sneaky oafs and arrogant "gaijin". But the gals are sweet and like Japanese dudes. Something weird going on as far as I am concerned. But, as long as it is Sonny Chiba, all is cool.

If you like these old Japanese Toei/TOHO style films you will like this one. If you don’t you will not be converted I promise. I like them and find that they're good clean fun, being as they were most often being made for kids I guess. But even avoiding the “so bad it is good” angle it is a well-made film in many other regards as far as this sort of film goes. The villains have a Bond villain aura about them and the amphibious sea-creatures are pretty entertaining and sport some really awful costumes that sag like pajamas as they walk about menacing whoever they are ordered to menace by remote control. The heroes resort to amazing bouts of over acting at the slightest provocation. Chiba is great as he whirls into the camera every other shot with a challenging stare. It is a classic of bad cinema and those who can enjoy for what it is are members automatically of the cult-film cognoscenti. Really. They are.

















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