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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE (1960)

Unexpected fare from Criterion DVD, a bargain-basement Kiddie Matinee pic about an under-water UFO that’s causing havoc in the Polar Cap sea-lanes. Mankind’s only hope is to find the thing with a nuclear sub and blast it to kingdom come before it can take off for its home planet and return with an armada of UFOs! Hey, not such a bad idea for a cheap Sci-Fi/Monster flick. Alas, nobody involved on this one seems to give a hoot. Even if you accept the extreme limits of a tiny budget & a six-day shoot, the lack of drive & imagination kill off most of the fun. Except for those who find the no-frills staging of B-pic vet Spencer Bennet and the look of defeat & occasional contempt from some of the actors worth a grim chuckle or two. But a bit of a surprise comes at the climax as the crewmen enter the mother-ship to confront the slimy one-eyed beast. There’s no interior! That is, no interior set. Just a bit of stark lighting, bare walkways and pools of blackness. Without quite registering the shift, we automatically begin to imagine the scene for ourselves. And, for a couple of minutes, the dumb thing comes briefly comes to life.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Funny that the one thing this pic gets right (not showing the interior of the space ship) is the very thing Steven Spielberg got wrong on the ‘Special Edition’ 1980 re-release of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND/’77.

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