Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Movie Review: The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues

The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues
Unrated
2 Slimes
Copyright American Releasing Corporation 1955

THE CHARACTERS

Dr. Ted Stevens/Baxter: He is an invited guest of Prof. King and is a very famous oceanographer. He has also been able to create a death ray using radiation and isotopes. He investigates the local mysterious deaths in the area and the appearance of the Phantom.

Lois King: She is the daughter of King and likes to randomly hand out cigarettes to people. Outside of Richard and Linda in Ants, I think she and Ted set the quickest record for anyone falling in love with each other in a horror movie.

Professor King: He is a professor in oceanography and has a problem with trusting his people. Can’t imagine why, with such employees. He is performing some kind of mad experiments in his laboratory with radiation and ends up creating the Phantom. Typical cliché scientist behavior in these types of films. Ends up getting blown up by his own explosives when the Phantom grabs a hold of him.

George Thomas: He is professor’s king assistant and also is a stalker on his own time. He has some really cocked looking eyebrows that always makes him look like he is intrigued by something. He is a greedy little jerk that is arrested for the murder of Ethel Hall. Why he did it is a mystery.

Ethel Hall: She is King’s secretary and is stuck between being threaten by George to keep quiet or is being threaten to talk by King. She doesn’t trust Prof. King at all and is worried about what is going on at the place she works. She is harpooned by George.

Wanda: I have no idea what she brings to the table in this film and what is her importance to the plot. Is she a secret agent, spy, rival from another college, government official, an alien, or something else? We never fully understand!

William S. “Bill” Grant: He works at the Department of Defense in Washington and is a special investigator for the recent deaths in the area.

The Phantom: He’s a cross between a dragon, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and a big lizard. He is guarding some “light of radiation” in the ocean and is a mutation of something that Prof. King created during a scientific test. The monster is blown to pieces at the end of the film.

LESSONS LEARNED
+ Fishermen are not good at spotting large sea monsters in crystal clear water.
+ People wear business suits on the beach.
+ Secretary’s offices have spear guns on the wall.
+ Spear guns are great things to threaten people with.
+ When dealing with radiation, scientists wear bee keeper uniforms.
+ No one locked their front doors in the 50s.
+ Women’s clothing are a lot more elaborate than they look.
+ Guys scuba dive in their boxers.

STUFF TO WATCH FOR
0 min – Must resist urge to laugh.
3 min – So no one finds it strange that a man has washed ashore on the beach?
10 min – Oh no! A turtle kidnapper!
18 min – Finally, the soundtrack kicks back in.
23 min – That’s right, don’t give into peer pressure.
28 min – Very generic book title.
30 min – Hey, the film budget ran out. Movie’s over!
31 min – Never mind, the film is back.
40 min – I don’t get it. What was so ominous about that woman? We never seen her in this movie up until now!
41 min – It’s important to keep water out of the boat you morons and speaking of which, who are you people anyways?
47 min – That’s a good idea, but unfortunately you are getting all of your prints on it!
49 min – There’s that rowboat again.
61 min – So he can’t hit a stationary target, but he can hit a moving target?
70 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A BATTLESHIP FOR SOME REASON!
75 min – Looks like the monster is hugging him.

NOTABLE QUOTES
Ted Stevens: [Regarding the Phantom] Nature has many secrets that man mustn’t disturb, and this is one of them.

THE PLOT

I’ll be honest. When I saw the title, I thought this movie was The Beast of 20,000 Fathoms. Unfortunately, I was mistaken and ended up with this film instead. I never heard of it, so I thought what could be the harm in watching it to see what it was about. I’m never thinking like that again to say the least.

The movie opens up with a random guy throwing a fishing net into the ocean to catch some fish. I think using a bigger boat, anything other than a rowboat, would be better suited to haul the fish back, but whatever. Suddenly, a sea monster, which I assume is the Phantom, attacks him and drags him underwater. Well at least they don’t waste time about getting to the monster’s appearance.

We then arrive on a beach where the fisherman and his boat have washed ashore on. A couple of people causally walk over, including special agent William S. Grant from the Department of Defense. He and another man, Ted Baxter, examine the body on the beach and in less than 10 seconds, they discover the guy’s skin is covered in burned; the same thing goes for his boat too.

We cut away from this to Professor King’s house where he is talking with his daughter, Lois, about how he doesn’t trust his assistant, George Thomas, or his secretary, Ethel Hall. Ted comes over to the house, but King ends up leaving out a back window in his room for some reason. Another cut takes us back to the beach, where Ted is examining the boat that had washed ashore earlier. He has another run in with Grant, who reveals to us that Ted is Dr. Ted Stevens, a world famous oceanographer and a possible creator of a death ray. Sounds interesting, but in reality, this is all really boring. Ted tells Grant that he was checking the boat for radiation burns, which it has. So, Ted heads out into the water to check things out.

Now we move onto the Pacific College of Oceanography, where the janitor, Andy, and Ethel discuss everything that has been happening in the town. The fisherman is apparently the third victim, a lot of people have been noticing all of this strange stuff has been going on since the college opened, and there have been a lot of weird noises coming from King’s lab. I’m going to guess that King either created the monster or is turning into the monster. Anyone want to place some bets? We learn that George wants to steal the professor’s work for his own purposes and is threatening Ethel to keep her mouth shut.

Inside of King’s laboratory, we see experiment with some kind of ray gun on a turtle. Then with the magic of bad editing, we are now in the sea where the Phantom is now going after a scuba diver! The diver, who is later identified as Ted, manages to out swim the creature since it is having a difficult time swimming after him. I would like to ask at this point, when did he even have his diving equipment in the boat to begin with? We clearly see him paddle away and there was nothing in the boat to begin with.

Ted arrives on shore and meets up with Lois again. He manages to persuade her from taking a dip in the water without telling her about the Phantom. I don’t know why he wouldn’t tell her. At that time period, I assume people would be more open to believe that there could be a man in a rubber suit attacking people underwater or rather a ‘monster’.

We get some pointless scenes that go nowhere or contribute nothing to the film before we ended up with something that might be important. Ted and King discuss the local problems going on in the water around here when they are King’s house. Ted tells him he believes a “light source” has been killing people in the area with extreme amounts of radiation and some kind of beast is guarding it. Wait a minute; I thought the beast was the cause of the radiation?

Next day, a bunch of random things happen, so I’ll just briefly mention them since all of us at this point could hardly care less. Ted and Lois have some sort of date (I have no idea why), Ethel talks to Agent Grant about her suspicions of Prof. King, and the Phantom stalks some random scuba divers (the music kicks in again). After all of that, Lois and Ted discover the bodies of the scuba divers and their boat washed up on shore. Ever get the feeling of déjà vu? Ted decides to wait with the bodies until the police arrive, only to be shot at with a spear gun by George. Why? Who knows, so make up your own reason, because it’ll probably be better than what the movie will reveal later.

I just realized something. They never showed the divers getting attacked, just being stalked by the Phantom. Kind of disappointing, really. Another thing I like to point out is that every single boat in this movie is that row boat you see the fisherman gets attacked in at the beginning of the film. Couldn’t afford more boats either for the film I see.

After going over the bodies and examining the spear, it is determined that the bodies are burned even worse and the spear came from the college. Old George isn’t very good at covering his tracks. Instead of checking out a lead at the college, Grant and Ted decide to go diving in radiation light area to get a closer look, even though there is a monster about and when they get there, they discover some of the equipment had been sabotage. Ah yes, the smart, but yet moronic government and scientific people of the time. I don’t know what the scene ends up accomplishing. All we know is that George, Prof. King, or both of the men are behind the monster’s existence.

Now we cut to George, who is meeting with this woman called Wanda. Who is she and what is her purpose? Who knows! We don’t find out! All I can gather from their confusing talk is that she wants something important from Prof. King and is using George to get the information. George then goes and randomly kills Ethel, don’t understand fully. Did he kill her because she wasn’t scared of him anymore, was it because Wanda hinted at him to do it, or was it because she went to Agent Grant? So many unanswered questions, so much lack of good writing skills to explain them.

The spears are traced back to George and Grant goes to arrest him, while Ted tells King the news about what happened. He also tells him about some notes Ethel gave to Grant the she copied from King’s notes. Apparently, King did experiment using uranium deposit he found on the ocean floor and created the monster out of it. That’s the cliff note version at least, because the explanation that the professor gives is all scientific babble. Ted gives the professor an hour to think things over before deciding on whether or not he’ll help him destroy the beast.

Ted and Lois decide to go to King, who went to his lab to do some thinking. Just as the two step outside, they see some random battle ship or oil tanker out in the bay, where I assume the uranium light is. Suddenly, it explodes! Why? WHY?! ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO ASK WHY AT THIS POINT!?

Now at that lab, things are making even less sense! King starts randomly destroying his lab for one reason or another, I assume it is because his testing on the turtle went wrong, but you make the call if you seen the movie. George is arrested by Grant, but he reveals that he found out that King planted the monster in the ocean. Speaking of which, King dives into the ocean where the uranium and Phantom are, and blows the places up with an underwater charge, killing himself as well. Movie ends with Ted and Lois watching the explosion off on the shore.

Ugh, this movie was awful. The music, while nice, was reused over and over again every time someone dived into the water. The plot was very thin, with plot holes, too many unanswered questions, and the fact that the Phantom didn’t have much of a presence in the movie. The nail in the coffin was that the film quality was horrible. I don’t know if it was the version of the movie I saw, but it was bad with scene skipping, a part of the film was missing, and it looked like it was made in the 1920s.

The positive was that the acting was nice, with good line delivery and appropriate emotions portrayed by everyone. The settings were nice, despite the lack of areas the film were shot at. Like I said earlier, the music was reused over and over, but it was right for each scene that it was actually in, from the gentle and calming melody playing while everyone was diving, to the intense thrill from the appearance of the Phantom. It is also good B-movie entertainment for B-movie fans. Sill, this movie is just not that good and should be forgotten in the sea of monster movies out there.

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