Wednesday, July 15, 2015


A fisherman is yanked out of his canoe and into the deeps by a rather silly looking creature, a cross between the Creature from the Black Lagoon and the Cowardly Lion. When the body is found on the beach, it's covered with radiation burns. This is just the latest in a series of mysterious deaths in the area that folks are blaming on a phantom. Bill Grant is a G-Man sent to investigate; he runs into a suit-and-tie wearing beachcomber who says his name is Ted Baxter (yes, the unintentional laugh is the highlight of the movie) but really he's oceanographer Ted Stevens, undercover for the government. (This strange bit of identity folderol seems put in just to use up a few minutes of screen time.)  Both men want to talk to Professor King, an oceanographer at a local university who is up to something no good, coming home late at night, soaking wet, and hiding things from his nosy secretary, who finds them anyway. Also hanging around are King's promising student George (who skulks around in the dark with a spear gun), Commie spymaster Wanda (for whom George is working), and King's daughter Lois (who has little to do except be worried about her dad and get involved in a deadly dull semi-romance with Stevens).  Overall, this has little to recommend it except to the die-hard B-sci-fi fan.  The monster, seen in the first moments of the film, is ridiculous, and most scenes are made up dumb dialogue lamely delivered by people who seem like they'd rather be anywhere except in front of a camera. The exceptions are Phillip Pine, who isn't half-bad as the student George, the would-be Russian spy, and Vivi Janiss as the secretary; she seems like a community-theater actress, but she at least puts some energy into her role. This was one of the first movies from the company that became American International, home to Roger Corman for many years. [TCM]

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