War-Gods of the Deep (1965)

aka The City Under the Sea
Article 1900 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-28-2006
Posting Date: 10-25-2006
Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Featuring Vincent Price, Tab Hunter, Herbert the Rooster

When a woman vanishes from her room, a man and his chicken-toting friend discover a secret passage that takes them to a hidden city under the sea.

Sometimes it’s hard to say exactly why it is that a movie falls flat, but I’m afraid that’s what this one does. It’s certainly not the performances; with the exception of the dull Tab Hunter, everyone does a fine job. The special effects also aren’t bad for what was no doubt a low-budget affair. I think the real problem is a story that doesn’t know where to go once we reach the underwater city, and so we’re stuck with people talking to each other repeatedly, and it feels like we’re caught in endless exposition. The movie certainly spends more time establishing the peril of the deadly volcano than was really necessary; after a while, you’re just left twiddling your thumbs waiting for the big destruction scene that you know won’t come until the end of the movie. It also doesn’t help that most of the big chase scene takes place underwater, where it’s impossible to tell who is in what diving outfit, and where the constant cut shots of close-ups of faces in the diving helmets does absolutely nothing to help. In the end, the most memorable thing about this movie is Herbert the chicken, and outside of escaping from his owner a few times and peaking his head out of a basket, he doesn’t do anything. The end result is a disappointment; it’s not awful by any means, but it’s tired and uninspired. This is probably the least interesting of the AIP Poe movies.


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