Look, there’s a basic truth here you need to remember:
If you are going to turn someone into a giant monster, don’t pick your bitter ex-girlfriend.
This was Toho’s version of Verne‘s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Yeah, the plot is mostly different, with an entire underwater civilization and hints of Shangri-La thrown in as a bonus, but the basic story is there.
Disaster strikes a team of scientists on a deep sea exploration, but they are rescued by a man who claims to be two hundred years old.
The problem is that he’s played by Joseph Cotten, who comes off as far too American and far too ordinary for the part. He does make a heroic effort to wear the goofy costumes as if they were his routine and unexciting everyday clothes. But then, it’s one of of those situations where you know it won’t work even before you try.
Things do liven up a bit once Caesar Romero shows up as the Supervillain, who has his own secret base, his own super-submarine, and even his own colorful collection of henchmen.
If he sounds like a refugee from the old Batman TV series you probably aren’t far wrong. They even gave him an extravagant set of robes…
It’s a little “gee whiz, look how wonderful” when we get to the underwater city — a flaw you expect from rather older — maybe the Thirties or Forties — science fiction, even is it does turn up now and then in odd films like The Time Travelers (1964) — and slows down badly as a result. it picks up a bit at the end when they confront the villain on his secret island. The next thing you know we’ve got bat people, lots of special effects and the contractual obligation giant monster. As giant monsters go, it’s quite cool and very different from anything we’ve seen in a Toho film before or since.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get to do much.
Even with Richard Jaeckel, one of the most reliable B-Movie actors around, as the reporter, Lattitude Zero doesn’t rank with Toho’s best films. it isn’t even one of their best Kaiju Eiga films from the Seventies. But I’ll confess to a certain affection and it is quite enjoyable once things really start happening at the end.
However, you’ll have to make what you can of the ending. That one’s beyond me….
Buy from Amazon (Paid link):
A TO Z REVIEWS
The Rivets Zone: The Best SF Movies You’ve Never Seen!
AND CHECK OUT MY STRAY THOUGHTS ON FILM, SCIENCE FICTION AND ANYTHING ELSE THAT CROSSES MY MIND:
THE RIVETS ON THE POSTER BLOG
And by all means peruse my choices for: