Latitude Zero (1969)

Article 2126 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-10-2007
Posting Date: 6-8-2007
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Featuring Joseph Cotten, Cesar Romero, Akira Takarada

Three people stranded on the ocean floor in a bathysphere are rescued by residents of an underground kingdom called Latitude Zero. They are fighting the evil mad scientist, Dr. Malic.

For some reason, this Toho science fiction movie has eluded me for years; now, after having seen it, I’m afraid I have to consider myself somewhat fortunate in this regard. Dubbing is not a real problem with this one, what with most of the major cast members (Cotten, Romero and Jaeckel) speaking their lines in English to begin with, but I think the story is rather slow-moving and weak, Joseph Cotten seems lost and a little bored (though Cesar Romero is trying to put his best foot forward) and the music is listless and puny (from the usually reliable Akira Ifukube). There’s a bit of campy fun, though, what with Romero insisting on surgically creating a monster (a lion with the wings of a condor and the brain of a woman) right in front of his unwilling captives who are forced to watch by evil bat-men, but these sequences come fairly late in the film. The monster costumes look like monster costumes (especially the rats and the lions). It almost looks like they were hoping to build a TV series off of it. As far as I’m concerned, this is one of Toho’s weakest efforts in the realm of Science Fiction.


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