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Sunday, November 11, 2012

BATTLE BENEATH THE EARTH (1967)

This ultra-low-rent thriller for the Kiddie Matinee crowd imagines an underground network of tunnels being prepped by a rogue Communist Chinese General for an American invasion! Fear not, our best scientific mind (and ear!) is on the case, closely listening to the activity with his ear pressed to a Las Vegas sidewalk! Now, if we can only count on the military to get this nutcase genius out of the loony bin and off to combat headquarters! You don’t find this level of silliness everyday and, for much of its running time, the cheesy production values & straight-arrow acting are plenty fun to watch, along with a plot that looks back to DR. NO/’62 and forward to MOONRAKER/’79. Fantasy film star Kerwin Matthews deserved something classier for his last leading role, but megger Tully Montgomery makes his particle-board budget look even worse than it has to with camera set-ups that force his cast to unnaturally twist their heads just to make eye contact. Still, who’d want to miss the set decoration on the General’s underground field office: Chinese screens, ornamental vases and a fresh pineapple on the desk. He’s taking the Hawaiian route in.

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