Saturday, June 20, 2009


WHAT THE MONSTERS TAUGHT ME: Why break up with your girlfriend when you can transform her into a Griffin?


The Clown Prince of Scenery Chewing, Joe Cotten: Rat Buster, Joe Cotten’s seriously sloshed B-movie wife, boob-grabbing man-bats, the cream in Coffy, King Moonraiser’s Vengeance, Japanese toys porn, and a snooty Bay Area booge’s wet dream.

More details here.


Monster movie rule #989: never get into a bathysphere. You’re just begging for trouble. And trouble arrives in the form of an erupting underwater volcano that threatens the doomed bathysphere of Japanese scientists Ken (Akira Takarada) and Jules (Masumi Okada) and token American reporter Perry (Richard Jaeckel). As they inch near a horrid boiling death, they are saved by a magical non-yellow submarine called Alpha, piloted by Captain MacKenzie (Joseph Cotten). Also aboard the mysterious sub is be-skirted thug Chin (Susumu Kurobe) and drugged-out golden bikini babe Dr. Anne Barton (Linda Haynes) who all hail from the undersea utopia called Latitude Zero, an extraordinarily advanced city created by MacKenzie and his centuries-old dedication to science, culture, and knowledge. Here you can hot tub with babes in green Kool Aid, fertilize geraniums with diamonds, and buy gold pants that stop bullets. But L.Z. also has a dark side, its bad side of town called Blood Rock where the eeeevil Dr. Malic (Cesar Romero) lurks in his eeeevil sub Black Shark with his eeeevil pill-popping bride Lucretia (Patricia Medina). Both Malic and MacKenzie have been playing a chess game of sorts for decades, each one trying to one-up or destroy the other through technology. MacKenzie invents jet packs that actually work and gloves that shoot lasers and fire. Malic creates human-sized bats and a giant lion with vulture wings with the brain of his sultry minion Kroiga (Hikaru Kuroki). I’ll let you decide which one to invite to your birthday party. Malic’s latest plot is kidnap a Japanese scientist who has discovered a miracle treatment for radiation poisoning. It’s a game of cat and giant rat between Malic and his batty minions and MacKenzie and his new half-awake friends. And it will all culminate in above-surface submarine battles, magnetic mountains, brain-cutting, embarrassing villain robes, and various acts of sodomy. No, really.


Latitude Zero is not so much a monster movie or an epic action escapade but a pleasing visual feast of Japanese fantasy by two masters of the genre, namely director Ishiro Honda and special effects wizard Eiji Tsuburaya, both nearing their respective ends of their careers with this film. The result is a goofy sci-fi adventure which borrows everything from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Mysterious Island, and even Toho’s own similar adventure Atragon. Watching this film brought back vivid memories of Saturday mornings watching Toho productions with its ultra-modern set design, cool model work including visible strings, and flashy and often hilarious costumes such as the crew’s golden action uniforms, the furry hopping man-bats, Cotten’s weird chained shirt and Romero’s leather-busted white sash. So many memories. With the exception of Haynes' zombielike disinterest, the acting camp factor is fully cranked up to 12, but it’s Cesar Romero who steals the show as the sneeringly vile Malic. His over-the-top performance makes for more than just a few laugh out loud moments of inspired dinner thespian theatrics. Despite some random slowness in parts, a meandering plotline, and a cop-out ending, Latitude Zero recalls the cool futurism of the 60s which can be confused for tackiness depending on your taste but the movie delivers the goods if you’re looking for old fashioned sci-fi silliness from our kooky Japanese friends at Toho Studios.

Despite the butt-loving man-bats.

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