City in the Sea (1965) Poster

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5/10
It never rises above mediocrity...
MartinHafer9 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
After seeing "City Beneath the Sea", I can understand why this is among the lesser-known films Vincent Price made during the 1960s. The problem is that although the idea for the story is pretty cool and it's filmed in color, there really isn't much energy in the film and it never manages to rise above mediocrity. It's a real shame, as I was anxious to enjoy this film.

The film is set near the beginning of the 20th century in Britain. Oddly, despite the British location, three of the four leads in the film are Americans--something they never really explained very well. Following a spate of odd occurrences and a dead body washed ashore, a woman (Susan Hart) is kidnapped by some sea creature. Tab Hunter and David Tomlinson set off to find her--begging the viewer to wonder if perhaps they could have found a more formidable search party had they just looked a bit further! Eventually, their search takes them to a swirling pool of water in a cave. The pair accidentally fall in and are sucked into an undersea city where Vincent Price rules with an iron hand. This might no be so bad if it weren't for the fact that Price seemed pretty irrational and blood-thirsty. Plus they discover the lady who'd been spirited away--it turns out she looked like some old lady that Price was in love with so he ordered his goofy sea monster friends to kidnap her.

There are two huge problems in this underground paradise. First, there is increasing seismic activity that appears ready to destroy the city. Second, Price is so irrational that there is no way they'll die from the underwater volcano--Price is sure to have them killed sooner. So, Hunter, Tomlinson and Hart escape using primitive looking diving outfits. Naturally, Price, his henchmen and the sea monsters all give chase. Will the trio survive or be doomed to nutty old Price's mercy? This basic story isn't bad. The problem is that there is just not much energy in the film despite the story idea and a few nice special effects and underwater cinematography. In addition, Tomlinson was simply dreadful in the film, as his character was annoying, impossible to believe and a bit of an idiot. How anyone could be expected to rely on him is beyond me! Plus, I rather hoped that he would die--he was just not particularly good as a character. As for Price, his character's motivations seemed vague. He was bad and mad...but why?! In his films such as the Dr. Phibes films or "Theater of Blood", you clearly understood what made him tick and why he HAD to kill. Here he just seems like a jerk...and rarely is that sufficient motivation for a film. Overall, it's worth watching if you have nothing pressing to do or if you MUST see every film Price made.
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4/10
Shangri-La at the bottom of the ocean
bkoganbing9 December 2017
Most of the time when a film is held up in release you know the studio has lost faith in it. Made in 1963 according to the Citadel film series book on Vincent Price the film did not come out until 1965.

It wasn't a terrible film, but it was exceedingly dull in spots and exceedingly stupid in one aspect. Of course anything with Vincent Price being sinister will have some good points.

Set in Cornwall at the turn of the last century, the City Beneath The Sea is about a local legend of a lost city off the coast that became lost during an earthquake. Some might call it Atlantis, but the locals use the Arthurian legend name of Lyonness.

Young heiress Susan Hart disappears and her lawyer and a visiting artist find a secret passage from her home. Tab Hunter and David Tomlinson play the pair of hunters respectively.

Folks originally lived there adapted and became water breathing gill men. How later arriving humans like Vincent Price and his pirate crew subjugate them is never explained and is beyond me. But one thing does happen these folks live very long like the inhabitants of Shangri- La. And they have the same weakness that those Shangri-La characters do.

In a much better film, Journey To The Center Of The Earth one of the characters carried his pet goose until the villain ate him. I thought that was a stupid plot gambit then and I think David Tomlinson carrying the pet rooster Herbert was even more ridiculous. After a while his silly twit Englishman got downright annoying.

Vincent Price's fans might show a little strain with this one.
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5/10
Fun, lightweight kid's film with a hammy Price
Leofwine_draca10 December 2012
CITY UNDER THE SEA seems to have been tacked on to the end of the Roger Corman/Vincent Price Poe cycle, featuring Price narrating a few passages of the author's work over a vista of some choppy waves. It's supposedly based on some of Poe's writings, but it has more in common with same-era sci-fi flicks like DR WHO AND THE DALEKS and THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT.

It's a fairly enjoyable little movie, but it has zero depth and absolutely nothing going on beyond the action-adventure template. Vincent Price is at his hammy best as an age-old smuggler ruling over an undersea kingdom, and Tab Hunter is the square-jawed but wooden American hero. In terms of entertainment value, David Tomlinson (and his chicken!) and the cut of Susan Hart's dress supply most of that.

This movie certainly has a good pedigree in the form of Jacques Tourneur, the famed director of much fantastic fare, including NIGHT OF THE DEMON. He doesn't have a great deal to work with here, but he does ensure the sets look just that - fantastic - and he manages to incorporate some stock disaster footage fairly well.

The biggest flaw, I found, were the interminable underwater scenes that last for about twenty minutes towards the end. As in the same year's THUNDERBALL, they consist of people wandering around aimlessly for what feels like an age. Not much fun, although the monster masks are. The US title, WAR GODS OF THE DEEP, may be a bit of a misnomer for what is a genteel and completely old-fashioned sort of film.
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Surprisingly dull and workmanlike
bob the moo24 May 2003
When a body is washed ashore on the coast by a small English village it sparks an investigation in the mind of Ben Harris. He visits the home where the deceased had been a lawyer and finds clues that indicate that the beautiful Jill Tregillis may be in danger. Seeing off a mysterious figure who he caught in the act of stealing a portrait of Jill leaves him in no doubt and he stays the night. In the night Jill is kidnapped and Ben and Harold pursue. Finding a tunnel system going under the sea they investigate but find a hidden world controlled by one man who has found the secret of eternal life but is desperate to prevent his world being destroyed by a volcano.

I taped this film by mistake when I wanted to watch `City Beneath the Sea' which was on a day after this. Realising my mistake I watched it anyway as I noticed it had Vincent Price and was based on a work by Edgar Allen Poe. The film starts with a bit of a gothic feel to it but quickly it becomes surprisingly straightforward. The mysterious `fishmen' are quickly replaced as the focus by The Captain and his crew, personally I felt that to make a different species of man and then sideline them was pointless – where they did they come from for goodness sake!?

The Captain and his age-old crew are interesting but nothing can be fully explained as to how they really managed to set up down there as well as they did and it quickly becomes just a bunch of men living in caves as opposed to a city beneath the sea! There is no real feeling of mystery here and the end result is that it falls a little flat for the most part. The attempts at escape late on in the film lose excitement due to being quite slow and filmed in clunky diving suits, happily the return of the fishmen add some fluidity to events. The underwater filming is quite good considering, although the regular close-ups of the actors' eyes in the helmets would only convince a child that they were really in the water!

Price is always a good villain but here he lacks threat – even when he executes people, he seems to be in full control but without that masterful stroke of eccentricity that many of his better performances have had. Hunter is quite a dull lead and even seems out of his depth (sorry) when acting alongside the support cast, let alone Price! Hart is pretty and Tomlinson adds value with some comic touches (especially at the start of the film). An actor as well known as John Le Mesurier shouldn't be wasted but really is – he still has to give his usual pottering character but is still badly cast and underused. The fishmen are suggested as the monsters of the piece by the first 10 minutes but are revealed to be toothless, given little screen time and handled as easily as a hooked salmon.

Overall the quality of the film can be summed by the fact that the drama is all relying on the audience accepting a very active underwater volcano of the English coast. However once you get past this the delivery is quite flat and lacking in excitement to the extent that, by the time things come to a head, you'll not really be that bothered what happens.
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4/10
Just another day at the beautiful briny sea.
mark.waltz10 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
No matter the century, country or circumstance, Vincent Price's American International films loosely based upon an Edgar Allan Poe short story or sonnet always saw him reliving the same obsession with a dead wife. It was inevitable that he'd end up 50,000 fathoms below the earth's surface, here the self proclaimed modern day Neptune, and as looney as a lobster facing a pot of hot water. There's a really big pot of hot water here, an underground volcano threatening not only the ready to fry Price, but his unwelcome visitors (Tab Hunter and the chicken obsessed David Tomlinson) as well.

In a setting that looks like something out of a gladiator movie, this is a campy, over the top adventure with Price really playing "He who must be obeyed", a man who has learned the apparent lesson of eternal life which occurs at the bottom of the ocean floor, but is not without its consequences. Hunter and Tomlinson are there to rescue the abducted Susan Hart, finding that there's more under the sea than fish or plankton.

Silly comedy is abound, especially regarding Tomlinson and his pet chicken, at one point resting on his head. Price really deserves a hand (which he literally gets) for keeping a straight face. Poe's poems appear several times, with a supposed first addition among Price's character's belongings. Hunter is pretty decent in this, as are the strangely costumed sea creatures who live in the waters outside Price's compound.
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7/10
One of the Lesser-Rated Vincent Price Films
gavin694218 February 2011
A lost city beneath the sea is discovered off the coast of Cornwall. Vincent Price is the captain overseeing a group of sailors who have lived there for more than a century where the peculiar mix of gases has allowed them to extend their lifespan.

Allegedly, Vincent Price didn't see the script until six days before shooting began. He does not show up until 25 minutes into the film, and is not the main character. If you came to this film to see Price, you will, just do not expect him to carry the picture.

This one is as beautiful as any of the AIP films, despite not being well known, and having a plot that might leave some disappointed (it is, after all, a take off on the Atlantis legend mixed with "Creature From the Black Lagoon", but maybe not a smooth mixture). I thought the atmosphere really carried the picture, personally.

The female lead is gorgeous, though she appears far too briefly, and I like the concept of ultraviolet rays causing shorter lifespans, along with the negative consequences of immortality (forever is a long time).

The film is sometimes called "War Gods of the Deep", and sometimes takes the title of a Poe poem, "The City Under the Sea", and attempted to exploit the Poe films trend, even though the only connection is a recitation of the poem at the end. Since "City" is not one of Poe's well-known poems, this probably was not a problem.

Again, this movie is apparently not well known, as it does not appear in any of my reference books. And that is a shame. It has a good horror/sci-fi feel to it, beautifully shot, and stars Vincent Price. Deserves a lot more recognition than it has received, and I hope more people come to discover it.
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8/10
Enjoyable fantasy adventure romp
Woodyanders20 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
1903: The Cornish coast. Dashing mining engineer Ben Harris (likable Tab Hunter) and jolly artist Harold Tufnell-Jones (an amusing David Tomlinson) discover a crumbling underwater society ruled by the ruthless Sir Hugh (the always terrific Vincent Price) while poking around a cave in search of sweet fair damsel Jill Tregillis (fetching Susan Hart). The former smuggler inhabitants never age and exploit gill-men creatures as slave labor. Moreover, there's an active volcano which threatens to erupt at any moment. Director Jacques Touneur, working from a fanciful and eventful script by Charles Bennett and Louis M. Heyward that's loosely based on an Edgar Allan Poe poem, relates the engrossing story at a steady pace, evokes a pleasingly eerie and mysterious atmosphere in the opening third, elicits sound acting from a game cast, and stages the lively and exciting last twenty-five minutes depicting the inevitable climactic eruption of the volcano and our protagonists being chased underwater by Sir Hugh and his flunkies with considerable brio. Moreover, there's a nice sense of imagination evident throughout, the amphibious seaweed-covered humanoid fishmen are pretty gnarly looking, the sets are fairly lavish, and the special effects might be crude by today's more sophisticated standards, but still possess a certain funky charm just the same. Stephen Dade's sumptuous widescreen cinematography gives the picture an impressively expansive and picturesque look. Stanley Black's moody and robust score likewise hits the bull's eye. A fun flick.
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6/10
Underwater adventure with magnificent acting by Vincent Price as a mean smuggler
ma-cortes6 February 2011
WAR GODS OF DEEP contains fantastic adventures full of sea-monsters in a lost continent placed underwater . Set on the Cornish coast in 1903 , the film starts when a body is washed ashore on a remote seacoast nearly a little town , it causes an investigation by an American young named Ben Harris (Tab Hunter). He goes to a house where the dead had been an advocate and encounters tracks that indicate the gorgeous Jill (Susan Hart) may be in deadly risk . Establishing menace and seeing off a suspicious strange monster like a gill-man that he trapped in the act of robbing a portrait of Jill , but he gets escaped . In the overnight Jill is abducted and Ben and Harold (David Tomlinson ) chase him . Finding a tunnel system going under the sea , as they walk across a dangerous rout . The duo discovering an underwater band of smugglers who never age residing in a lost underwater city along with their gill-man slaves . The group of people find inhabitants of the lost world that are ruled by one megalomaniac named Sir Hugh (Vincent Price) who's discovered the secret of eternal life but is desperate to avoid his world being destroyed by an eruption caused by a relentless volcano . Sir Hugh governs over the gill-men as slaves and wishes to rule the human beings and the creation a totalitarian state .

Based on Edgar Allan Poe writings with interesting screenplay by Charles Bennett . This fantasy picture displays thrills , weird sea monsters , lively pace and fantastic scenarios located undersea . Vincent Price is the real star of this production and its chief attribute , similar to his role as ¨Robur the conquer¨ . The tale is silly and laughable , but the effects and undersea scenes are quite well . Among the most spectacular of its visuals there are deeply shrouded caverns full giant sculptures in Persyian style . Some illogical parts in the plot are more than compensated for the excitement provided by Vincent Price acting and the sea-monsters appearance , though they are sometimes a little bit shoddy . Vincent Price is well accompanied by a decent main cast as David Tomlinson , Tab Hunter , Susan Hart and notorius secondaries as Henry Oscar and John Le Mesurier.

It packs a cheesy underwater city with mediocre matte painting . Filmed in glimmer and colorful cinematography by cameraman Stephen Dade on location in Cornwall Coast , Cornwall, England , Pinewood Studios , Iver Heath , Buckinghamshire , England, UK (studio). Thrilling and stirring musical score by Stanley Black . The motion picture was produced by American International (James H Nicholson , Samuel Z. Arkoff) in average budget and middlingly directed by the classic director Jacques Tourneur in his final feature movie . He was an expert on terror cinema (Cat people , Curse of the demon, I walked with a Zombie) and adventures (Flame and the arrow) . ¨City under the sea¨ will appeal to youngsters who will swallow it whole and they'll feel convulsed in their armchair and of course Vincent Price fans.
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4/10
Little more than a kiddie matinée item...but Vincent Price is always worth a look
moonspinner555 July 2016
An underwater city off the coast of Cornwall is threatened with destruction by a long-dormant volcano currently glowing with rising lava; however, this doesn't stop the self-appointed ruler of the city from executing his minions and threatening to kill an American professor and his sidekick after they infiltrate the waterlogged palace looking for a kidnapped woman. After American International Pictures hit pay dirt with their string of profitable beach party movies in the early 1960s, they expanded to more sophisticated fare such as "The Raven" and "The Masque of the Red Death", both adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe. "War-Gods of the Deep" is also credited with being based on Poe by way of his poem, "City in the Sea", but 'inspired by' seems more accurate as there is nothing on the screen that Poe would be proud of. Although the art direction is good and the set designs surprisingly elaborate for A.I.P., the screenplay, full of banal dialogue, is a deadly cataclysm. Vincent Price is quietly menacing, but his character is given the short shrift; he doesn't seem to know what he's doing, whom he's killing, or how long his city has left to survive. As the hero, Tab Hunter still sounds flat and angry--his voice has no modulation--but he works hard at developing a no-nonsense personality to give the movie some bearings; ultimately, he's defeated by the cheapjack climactic battle, mostly staged underwater (with clueless close-ups of Hunter and his co-stars standing in front of a blue screen wearing huge diving helmets). There's hardly any plot development, action scenes and stock footage are sloppily thrown together and, for comic relief, we get overaged pixie David Tomlinson and his pet hen. *1/2 from ****
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Tourneur gets drowned.
dbdumonteil14 June 2008
Jacques Tourneur began his career in his father Maurice's native France with moderately good comedies such as "Toto",reached his peak in the forties and the fifties with such classics as "cat people" "out of the past" "nightfall" or "curse of the demon".In the late fifties ,"Timbuktu" and" la battaglia di Maratona" a sword and sandal flick indicated a neat decline.

"The city under the sea" , inspired by Edgar Poe ,recalls Roger Corman's contemporary works (but does not cut them) while looking sometimes like a poor man's "journey to the center of the earth" :Herbert plays the role of the goose Gertrude in Levin's Verne adaptation.The screenplay is rather mediocre ,compared with Tourneur's previous works ,and many good ideas are not fully exploited (the picture of the woman or the time which stood still in the city under the sea).The settings are rather nice ,particularly the huge hand;on the other hand ,the "fishmen" are Mardi Gras and the battle between them and the humans is much too long.

If you have never seen a Tourneur movie,you'd better choose something else.Take "cat people" "Berlin express" or "Curse of the demon" instead.
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4/10
Vincent versus the Volcano!
Coventry13 November 2017
You really have to admire the marketing expertise of Samuel Z. Arkoff and the good people at American-International Pictures (AIP)! They had only just finished exploiting Edgar Allen Poe's Gothic horror stories via a hugely successful film series starring Vincent Price and directed by Roger Corman, and not even a year later they're back already to cash in on more Poe-related themes and monsters, only this time in combination with the fantasy and Sci-Fi elements of Jules Verne ("20,000 Leagues under the Sea", "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "Around the World in 80 Days"). Now, in case you're thinking that the works and styles of Edgar Allen Poe and Jules Verne form a rather bizarre and illogical mix, you are quite right and thus "City in the Sea" is a primarily preposterous and dumb adventure film!

Vincent Price depicts "The Captain"; a villain too obviously modeled after the charismatic and mysterious Nemo in "20,000 Leagues under the Sea" and the relentless leader of a smuggling network that operates from an cavernous city-like lair underneath the sea, just outside the coast of Cornwall. The Captain and his henchmen have been there for more than 100 years, but they're not ageing as long as they remain in their underwater hideout because – and I quote – "it has something to do with the oxygen-composition here below". That's the type of blurry explanations we have to settle for in the script of this film… The Captain may be a tough and sinister bastard, but he's also heartbroken over the loss of his true love and hence he kidnapped her lookalike; the local beauty Jill Tregellis. American engineer Ben Harris, also in love with Jill, goes after her, along with a cowardly artist and his pet chicken (!) named Herbert. They have to rescue the girl from Vincent Price's army of gill-men, and in time before the underwater volcano erupts.

It's always even more difficult to acknowledge that a movie is bad when there are so many potentially good story lines. Based on the synopsis, you'll agree with me that "City in the Sea" features several interesting ideas – even if they are all derivative of other stories – but for some reason the whole film is rather dull and exaggeratedly talkative. There are plenty of nice set pieces and imagery, but they are hardly being used. The dialogues are tacky and the acting performances are quite dismal, with the exception of Vincent Price and – of course – Herbert the Chicken. Jacques Tourneur was definitely one of the most important horror directors of the previous century and he made several hugely influential classics, like "Cat People", "Out of the Past" and "Night of the Demon". It's a bit unfortunate that his career had to end with this seedy horror/Sci-Fi hybrid that can't even be referred to as entertaining.
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5/10
There is no way out!
hitchcockthelegend9 March 2013
City Under the Sea is directed by Jacques Tourneur and written by Charles Bennett and Louis M. Heyward. It stars Vincent Price, Tab Hunter, Susan Hart, David Tomlinson and John Le Mesurier. Filmed in Pathecolor it features music by Stanley Black and cinematography by Stephen Dade.

Inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe/Roger Corman/Vincent Price series of films, with some Jules Verne flavourings, City Under the Sea turns out to be a disappointment and a far from fitting farewell to cinema for Tourneur. A shame because visually it's a treat for the eyes with its striking set designs and character clobber.

Derived as an idea from Poe's poem The City in the Sea, the story just isn't interesting enough. It's based in olde Cornwall, England, and finds Hunter (dull) and Tomlinson (out acted by his chicken companion) discovering an underwater city when Hart (err, she is just there!) disappears from her room via a secret passage. Turns out the city is presided over by an unhinged Price (on auto-pilot but still engaging enough) who believes Hart to be the reincarnation of his long dead wife. There's some gill men ancients, a smuggling back story, ageless oxygen and a volcano just waiting to explode in the finale. What transpires is a load of talking and nothing much happens until the expected chase and explosive ending that really isn't worth the wait.

Price and the visuals ensure it's not a total wash out, but all told its pretty ordinary. 5/10
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7/10
Memorable B Movie
Theo Robertson19 February 2008
From what I know about screen writing the more credited writers a film has the worse the narrative is supposed to be . I genuinely think this is nonsense and perhaps CITY UNDER THE SEA is proof of this . It's a movie that has three people involved in he screenplay but is far more entertaining and involving than a great number of films I've seen that have only one screenwriter

First of all let's get the bad points out of the way . You don't need a University degree to know that there's no volcanoes off the coast of Cornwall which seems to be included to set up the ending and the back story of the gillmen are conspicuous by its absence . Also if you're a fan of Poe and you watched this movie expecting it to be an accurate adaptation of one of his works then you'll almost certainly feel cheated . The casting of two American characters in two lead roles to appeal to an American market does seem forced , especially when you've already got a well known American actor as the film's villain . Hammer films didn't bow to this type of casting so I've no idea why it's done here

In fact CITY UNDER THE SEA plays very much like one of the better Hammer productions concentrating on atmosphere rather than gore . When the film concentrates on this aspect it is genuinely frightening as early in the film when one of the gillmen prowls around the house . I must have been about seven years old when I saw this scene and remember being terrified by it . I saw this scene again earlier today and was not disappointed which is a great compliment coming from me . It's a film that is not Oscar worthy but is great entertainment nonetheless
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7/10
Palatable Saturday matinée item.
Hey_Sweden15 February 2015
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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5/10
Barely Average Poe and Price…A Disappointment Considering Tourneur
LeonLouisRicci4 November 2015
In Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (1959) there's Pat Boone and a Duck...In Edgar Allan Poe's "City In the Sea" there's Tab Hunter and a Chicken. Both Boone and Hunter and Duck and Chicken do Nothing but Cause Cringes and Sink Both Films to the Bottom of Their Respective Environment.

In This One Vincent Price is On Hand to Do Some Poe Readings and Dialog Readings Like He has Somewhere or Something Else On His Mind (perhaps adding to His Art Collection). He Shows Up in One Shoddy Looking Costume and Never Makes Another Trip to Wardrobe.

The Movie, While At Times has Some Impressive Sets, at Other Times the Movie Looks Cramped and Dull. The Film Fluctuates Like that from Beginning to End. It Impresses and Then Disappoints Regularly.

The Director Tourneur Fought the Producers and Lost on Some of the More Embarrassing and Lackluster Things and Overall the End Product was a Lot Less than its Parts. The Underwater Chase Scenes are Slow and Boring and the Comedy Relief with the Chicken is just Intolerable.

Overall, Worth a Watch with the Lowest of Expectations for Some of the Sets and Visuals and a Peek-A-Boo Look See at Some Hammer Inspired Cleavage.
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6/10
A gentle fantasy vehicle for an on-form Price
CinemaSerf19 September 2020
This was often shown on television when I was younger and even though Vincent Price does rather ham it up a bit, I still quite enjoyed it. Based on Edgar Allan Poe's story, a beautiful woman (Susan Hart) is abducted and her two gallant friends - Tab Hunter and David Tomlinson set off to find and rescue her. A few secret passages and tunnels later, they discover an amazing city underneath the sea led by the not entirely rational Price ("Capt. Sir Hugh") and his ragtag crew who are facing the imminent destruction of the environment in which they have lived for a very long time. Can they rescue her and escape in time? Price - or, rather, his voice - is the star here. His thick, slightly menacing, accent as he delivers statements of doom and gloom echoing throughout their subterranean city is wonderful. There is plenty of light comedy from Tomlinson (and his duck) and the special effect department (the fun looking Sea Devils) and though Tab Hunter and Hart are really pretty wooden this colourful adventure bumps along quite well.
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3/10
War-Gods Or City?
AaronCapenBanner4 October 2013
Vincent Price stars in this very loose adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe poem as the Captain, a seemingly ageless man who rules an undersea city inhabited by smugglers and gill-men(!) who raid the nearby surface Cornish coast, and kidnap a young woman(played by Susan Hart) who is believed by the Captain to be the reincarnation of his late wife. Coming to her rescue through an underwater cavern are her friends(played by Tab Hunter and David Tomlinson) who are shocked by what they find, and are determined to defeat the Captain, and escape back to the surface.

Starts off fine, with moody atmosphere by director Jacques Tourneur, but goes down the drain before long, with a silly plot and unfunny comedy relief with a rooster that shares a diving suit with Tomlinson...it's that kind of film; a sad waste of potential, given Price and Tourneur's reputations.
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7/10
Not as bad as reputed
The_Void9 February 2005
When you consider that this movie is directed by the great Jacques Tourneur, stars the legendary Vincent Price and is based on a poem by the master of the macabre, Edgar Allen Poe; it's a huge disappointment. Considering the quality of the talent involved, this film really should have been a lot better. However, despite the fact that it's a long way from brilliant, the film isn't bad either and fans of any combination of the three major players will no doubt find something to like about it. The film begins in familiar Poe and Price territory, with the great actor reading the beginning of the poem on which the film is based against a backdrop of the ocean hitting the sandy shores. The story follows two men that follow a group of fish-men down a back passage of an old in house in search of the girl that the monsters have kidnapped. The men follow them to a lost city that has been engulfed by the sea, and discover a world of intrigue as they learn about the society of never ageing smugglers that they have stumbled upon.

It's the story telling aspect of the story that makes the film struggle. It's very uneven, and huge chunks are spent on rather boring elements such as an extremely overlong underwater chase sequence. However, when the film is good, it's very good. Vincent Price delivers a great performance as the ruler of the underwater kingdom. Price is an absolutely great actor who has to prove nothing to nobody and one reason for that is because no matter how bad the film is, Vincent Price always gives you a reason to watch. The effects are a little silly, especially when you get to see the half-fish, half-men up close, but things like that add to the charm of classic B-movies, and so it's easy to let it go. The story itself is very good, and despite the fact that it's only a poem, Poe manages to inject all the malevolence that has made him immortal in the eyes of everyone that knows anything about literature. The film also includes a tribute to the great author by way of a section which includes a first edition of his works. This film certainly isn't brilliant, but it's not bad either. I certainly recommend it to fans of Price, Poe or Tourneur.
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8/10
Nice Sci-Fi Fantasy Adventure
Rainey-Dawn17 April 2016
Been years since I've seen this gem and recently watched it again. I find this one a fun and nice science fiction fantasy. Not true to the writings of Edgar Allan Poe - just loosely based on his work - but it is a neat film. There are a couple of references to Poe and his name is mentioned specifically but that's about the only connection.

Vincent Price is always great to watch - this film is no exception. The character Captain Sir Hugh is a mysterious man who runs "the city in the sea". He has plenty of help along with gill-men guards that patrol the waters. He has found the key to long life - the "fountain of youth" in a way - under the sea.

This one is a worthwhile watch if you are into Vincent Price, sci-fi, fantasy and films with underwater themes.

8/10
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2/10
Hokey, Tiresome And Cheesy; A Labor To Sit Through
ferbs5410 December 2007
Back in 1803, Vincent Price and his band of smugglers had discovered an undersea kingdom off the English coast. In 1903, they are still down there, ageless, and lording it over the resident "gillmen." Price then kidnaps a woman from above who resembles his long-dead wife, which leads Tab Hunter and his pet-rooster-obsessed artist sidekick to come looking for her... Anyway, that's the setup of what turns out to be a rather hokey affair. A tiresome and cheesy movie, featuring only-adequate FX and some very lame comedy, "War-Gods of the Deep" (1965) is something of a labor to sit through. Part of the problem is that events and backgrounds are never adequately explained, and what explanations we do get (e.g., the inhabitants' immortality) are patently ridiculous. The layout of the underwater kingdom is impossible to grasp, a real problem toward the film's end. And the three-way underwater battle between Hunter's band, Price and his crew, and the gillmen is also impossible to follow; possibly the dullest, most confusing underwater sequence I've ever witnessed. Compare this scene to the thrilling and quite lucid underwater duke-out in that same year's "Thunderball." Geez! It's hard to believe that director Jacques Tourneur is the same man who gave us such horror classics as "I Walked With a Zombie," "Cat People" and "Curse of the Demon." What WAS he thinking here? Anyway, this mess is for Uncle Vinny completists only. It's better than a Dr. Goldfoot movie, but not by much!
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4/10
Undersea yawn
Chase_Witherspoon14 May 2011
Undersea adventure is reminiscent of "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" (complete with a feathered friend named Herbert) and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", when Hunter and Tomlinson venture into a mysterious subterranean lair after their female companion (Hart) is abducted and taken captive by an aquatic man-best (looking much like the gill-man from "Creatures from the Black Lagoon"). They soon encounter an underwater civilisation led by the maniacal doctor (Vincent Price), obsessed by a painting of a mysterious woman, and with a somewhat reluctant crew who have inadvertently discovered a fountain of youth. But the city is rocked by frequent volcanic shocks that threaten to sink the undersea world.

Inferior retread of the formula undersea sci-fi adventure features pedestrian performances by a capable cast that also includes John Le Mesurier as a long-held captive rector, who has seemingly lost the incentive to contemplate escape, let alone survive the impending volcanic disaster.

Widescreen underwater inserts look photographically disjointed, and there's even a brief scene in which a member of the crew in scuba diving apparatus is clearly visible above a pair of agitated gill men. A rousing finale somewhat redeems the picture, but it was too little, too late in my opinion. Dated effort might still appeal to older kids, and mercifully at barely 80 minutes, it narrowly avoids becoming a soporific experience.
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Another excellent performance from Vincent Price
chris_gaskin12311 August 2004
City Under the Sea is one of several movies based on an Edgar Allan Poe poem and starring Vincent Price.

A lost undersea city is discovered off the Cornish coast after a local woman goes missing. She was kidnapped by one of the smugglers who have made it their home. None of the people there seem to age, this is due to the air. Gill men are used as slaves. After several adventures, a volcano erupts and the two men who went to look for the woman rescue her and they all make it back safe, after fighting the gill men off. The woman reminded the leader of the city, Sir Hugh of his late wife. When Sir Hugh escapes from the city at the end, he ages suddenly due to the change of atmosphere.

Sir Hugh is played brilliantly by Vincent Price and the movie also stars Susan Hart, Tab Hunter, David Tomlinson and John Le Mesurier (Dad's Army). Also in the cast is Tomlinson's pet hen, Herbert.

I have seen this movie several times and found it enjoyable. A treat.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
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6/10
Solid
Cosmoeticadotcom24 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
War-Gods Of The Deep is one of those films whose title really makes no sense, but is right in keeping with the whole tenor of the film. It was made in 1965, the first of the famed American International Pictures post-Roger Corman Edgar Allan Poe-themed horror and sci fi films of the 1960s, that started with The House Of Usher in 1960, and was a part of the Big Four of horror and sci fi films of that era. The three other competitors in the field were the giant monster films from Japan (Godzilla, Mothra, Gammera, etc.), the stop motion action-adventure-monster films of Ray Harryhausen, and the British Hammer Studios horror films. That War-Gods Of The Deep was set in England, even though made by AIP, and featuring two American B film superstars like Vincent Price and Tab Hunter, and based upon a poem by American poet and writer Poe, is just one of its many ironies. Yet, that still does not explain its odd title. The alternate title was The City Under The Sea, which makes sense, since that's what it is about, a city reputedly called Lyonesse- not any War-Gods. It was based upon the Poe poem The City In The Sea, which is quoted by Price at film's start and end, and begins:

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne In a strange city lying alone Far down within the dim West, Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best Have gone to their eternal rest.

Suffice to say, the poem was not one of Poe's great classics, and the film derived from it is not one of AIP's better Poe themed films. War-Gods Of The Deep was the final film in the storied career of Jacques Tourneur, probably the greatest B film director in cinema history, and one of the true masters of the black and white medium. While better known for his classic films produced by Val Lewton (Cat People, I Walked With A Zombie), Tourneur proved he could make great horror films on his own. In 1957 he directed the British horror classic Night Of The Demon (Curse Of The Demon in the U.S.), and even in this color film, with its thin premise of a sunken city off the Cornish coast, unaging sailors from the Eighteenth Century, who do not age because of an imbalance of oxygen from an undersea volcano and some nonsense about ultraviolet light on the earth's surface in daylight (huh?), Gill-Men who are third rate Creatures From The Black Lagoon, and other assorted lunacy- such as a British comic foil for Hunter who carries about a chicken with the male name of Herbert, the film actually entertains, even if it lacks real chills.

The film has several layers to it. Watching it today, one must bear in mind, with the film over four decades old, yet the story is set in the more distant past of 1903, with characters who came from their even more distant past of decades, and even over a century, earlier, that this was made right at the beginning of notions of Postmodernism; which shows mostly that PoMo and B film psychology are kissin' cousins. What this says for both mindsets and pulling the wool over one's eyes is open for debate. The film also makes great use of its recycled AIP wares from prior movies. AIP reputedly never trashed old sets, and art director Frank White makes the most of the sets and miniatures that comprise the underwater city. The film also seems to be a scrapbook of ideas from other, better films, like the aforementioned Poe films, and The Time Machine. But, it also recalls the stellar Forbidden Planet by having the underground city being powered by huge pumps and machinery built by a long destroyed society that is no longer, having degenerated into the Gill-Men. The underwater cinematography by Neil Ginger Gemmell and John Lamb is also excellent, for a B film, even though the divers are all manifestly in a pool no more than fifteen or twenty feet deep, not leagues under the sea for the surface can be seen a few feet above the divers' heads. There are even some chuckles to be had when Harold sticks his chicken Herbert inside his diving helmet. The rest of the cinematography, by Stephen Dade, is merely solid, although there are some moody moments captured seemingly inadvertently, with miniatures.
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4/10
Harmless enough
raypdaley18219 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is an oldie and it's never going to win any awards. Certainly not for plot, special effects or acting anyway.

Take 2 Americans living in a remote Cornish Village by the sea, mix in some local legends & superstitions about a sunken city and smugglers, add the over the top acting of horror legend Vincent Price, David Tomlinson (better known for Bedknobs & Broomsticks) and John Le Measurer (better known for Dads Army) and you have "City Under The Sea".

Price leads a group of former smugglers in an underwater city who raid the surface by night for all they can not salvage from the sea. On one of these raids a book is stolen containing a drawing of a women who looks just like Prices dead wife and he sends someone up to kidnap her, thinking his wife has returned from the grave.

Obvious her American friend goes off to rescue her with Tomlinson in tow as the comic relief, playing an incompetent coward with a chicken called Herbert for company.

Based on something written by Edgar Allen Poe (not the 1st time Price has done something by him either!) there clearly wasn't much to work on to create the basic framework of this movie.

We have the underwater city, the inhabitants are all over 130 years old due to something in the air but this also renders them unable to go above the surface in the daylight as ultraviolet light will age and kill them.

This eventually proves to be Prices fate after the American man & Tomlinson rescue the girl and escape to freedom. Generally weak film with a poor ending. A short cameo by Tony Selby (known for "Get Some In" & "Dr Who") is easily missed.

Better left unwatched.
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6/10
Break with Tradition...
poe-488336 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
WAR-GODS OF THE DEEP (CITY IN THE SEA) has one thing going for it: director Jacques Tourneur. Unfortunately, even one of the finest Fright Film makers to ever shiver me timbers can't overcome this script. There ARE a couple of shots near the beginning of the movie that promise more than the final film ever delivers: beautifully-composed shots of a darkened den that even COLOR can't ruin. And then there's the first assault of the "gill-men." They attack at night and are gone in an instant. This brief glimpse is so tantalizing that later scenes in which we see them fully exposed (and lit) are painfully disappointing (and by no means in keeping with Tourneur's lifelong assertion that "less is more" when it comes to Monsters on screen). I'd be interested in reading up on the making of this one, because the departure from his Standard Operating Procedure needs some explaining. Maybe McFarland Publishing has a book on the subject... (If not, perhaps FILMFAX has run an article about the making of...)
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