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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Blogging the Hulu Plus Criterion Collection: Atomic Submarine

Atomic Submarine

The Criterion Collection has an odd assortment of sci fi and horror programmers from the '50s and '60s. Atomic Submarine is a movie I'd heard about but had never seen.

A little background. Looking back I've always been interested in certain subjects. Back in grade school I had those cookbooks for kids. I also had a lot of books on film. Nothing like Film Journal or anything like that. These were coffee table books full of pictures. They were a staple of the old Walden Books stores back when there was a Walden Books. They weren't deep film analysis but they got the juices flowing. One of the ones I still have in ratty condition is A Pictorial History of Science Fiction Films by Jeff Rovin. It was really old when I first bought it. One of the films Mr. Rovin praised in the book was Atomic Submarine from 1959. Here's the review from the back summary.

"Spencer Bennet - director of Atom Man vs. Superman - does a far superior job with this film, the story of a cyclopean invader from space"

After seeing this film finally I can only say: Wow, Atom Man vs. Superman must be a huge pile of crap. This film is not very good. It reminded me of an episode of the old Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea TV series. Except that Voyage had better sets and special effects. Think about that for a second. The makers here couldn't even be bother to put their model submarine in a tank of water. Most of the time we see the obvious model sub in an obvious miniature set with even more obvious dry for wet lighting. The interior sets of the flying saucer are also pretty blah. They mostly consist of a blacked out sound stage.

The story takes place in the (then) near future of the 1960s. By that time nuclear subs go back and forth across the North Pole carrying cargo and passengers until a mysterious force starts wrecking subs. Right off the bat we have a problem. Why didn't they make this a more contemporary story? Anyway the crew of a new sub investigates. The pace is not helped by a voice over narration. The crew finally confront and destroy the alien creature that looks a little bit like an early Muppet. The one interesting part is the conflict between the Executive Officer and a scientist on board. There's a peace versus war debate that is pretty intriguing considering this film is from 1959 and not 1969.

Obviously I can't recommend this film to anyone besides a real die hard fan of old sci fi films. I can think of at least ten episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea that were way more exciting than this one.

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