Set on the Cornish coast in 1903, the film features a group of people discovering an underwater society of smugglers who never age living in a lost underwater city along with their gill-man slaves.Written by
Jeremy Lunt <email@example.com>
A couple of respectable elements assemble here for a decent fantasy feature: source material from master of horror Edgar Allan Poe, a capable director in Jacques Tourneur, and the consistently amusing film star Vincent Price. While ultimately it lacks the imagination, budget, and style to be anything more, it's still acceptable entertainment of this kind.
Ben (Tab Hunter) is an American living on the Cornish coast at the turn of the 20th century. When mysterious forces kidnap area resident Jill (Susan Hart), on whom Ben is sweet, he sets out after her, with the doddering artist Harold (David Tomlinson) in tow. (Oh, and not to forget, Harolds' pet rooster Herbert.) They soon discover a strange underwater civilization, ruled by the domineering captain (Price). The captain, upon being led to believe that Ben is a professor of immense knowledge, wants to pick his brain on what to do in the event of a cataclysmic volcanic eruption.
As part of the package, the captain and his men exploit local "gill men". They're NOT as cool as the Creature from the Black Lagoon, but the masks aren't bad either, and they're not bad characters. Considering that A.I.P. probably controlled expenses a lot, the sets and production values are still respectable enough. The movie is shot in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is fairly colourful. The score by Stanley Black is also nice. Tourneur gets down to business quickly and the pacing & editing are adequate. Most of the cast & crew credits are saved for the end.
Hunter is a handsome and engaging hero. The beautiful Hart is a likable enough heroine. Tomlinson handles all of the comedy relief duties and is delightful. John Le Mesurier is excellent as helpful old Reverend Ives; Henry Oscar, Derek Newark, and Roy Patrick co-star. Price is magnetic as always as our villain, and the lines from the Poe story flow off of his tongue with the greatest of ease.
The viewer may not enjoy this quite as much as they'd like to, but it remains watchable for most of its 85 minute run time.
Sadly, director Tourneurs' final feature film.
Seven out of 10.
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