Terror Beneath the Sea (1966)

TERROR BENEATH THE SEA (1966)
Article 1799 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-16-2006
Posting Date: 7-16-2006
Directed by Hajime Sato
Featuring Sonny Chiba, Peggy Neal, Franz Gruber

When a strange vision of a swimming creature is seen by two reporters during a test of guided torpedos, they decide to investigate, and are captured by underwater fish-men and kept prisoner in an underwater city.

Director Hajime Sato only worked on a handful of movies, but he appears to be something of a cult item. I suspect this may be due to his last film, the queasy, nihilistic GOKE BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL. I’m not really impressed with this one from a year earlier; it’s loaded with cliches, the gillman-on-a-budget suits are pretty cheesy, the make-up is awful, and some of the acting is painful. Though it’s tempting to attribute the last problem to bad dubbing, the fact of the matter is that much of the cast seems to be speaking English already; certainly, Peggy Neal doesn’t appear to be dubbed at all. It’s her performance that I really dislike in the movie, but I’m not sure it’s her fault; she has one of those characters that I simply find too annoying for words. She is useless in any tense situation, screams at everything, complains that when she isn’t believed that she’s being dismissed as a hysterical female (and then acts the role through the entire movie), and when she undergoes the first step to transform her into one of the underwater cyborgs, what seems to traumatize her most is that she’s not beautiful anymore. Even when the movie pulls the old Who-Shot-The-Gun fakeout (if you don’t know what this cliche is from my name for it, you will when you see it), it’s not even her at the trigger. Sonny Chiba would go on to fame as The Street Fighter in a series of martial arts films.

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