The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues
Before I start this review, I would like to point out that this movie, along with many others (some of which have been and will be reviewed here) are available on the 12 DVD Box Set: Horror Classics. This DVD set is a must have for all fans of older horror movies. It's a perfect mix of real classics, like 'Night of the Living Dead' and 'Nosferatu', to complete cheese fests, like the one I am about to review. And, at Approx $30.00, it is, by far, the most bang for your buck. Anyways, onto the show!
Plotline: Dead teenagers start washing up to shore, burnt beyond recognition. Who or what is to blame? A mysterious glowing radioactive rock that has appeared in the ocean, guarded by a horrible sea creature, that's what. Pretty soon, the Government is in on the deal and the head of the new Institute of Oceanography (a building which seems to be comprised of only two rooms, might I add) in town is given some very serious questions to answer. The situation is made worse by a money grubbing couple, bent on finding the formula that made this glowing rock and sell it to the highest bidder.
Scariness factor: Probably just about as scary as the Halloween episodes of Happy Days.
Originality: This movie is a complete rip-off of the (far superior) Creature from the Black Lagoon, which was released just a few years earlier. But, like all things like this, "Creature.." made it into a Horrorwood classic while "Phantom.." still languishes in relative obscurity.
Other High Points: Okay, look. The acting is over-the-top, the dialogue is cheesy and the monster looks like he's going to lose a piece of paper mache any minute. But, that's what makes this movie great! It's the sort of movie which spawned the parody 'The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra' and nibbled at the brains at the creators of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. It's also perfect midnight movie fare. I felt like, any moment, I'd see Big Chuck and Little John, with their horribly canned laugh track, roll across the screen. Simply put, it's the sort of movie that got me into horror movies as a kid and which I still love today. Radioactive monsters, Scientists doing "science" and reactions to death that are so blasé, they are borderline psychopathic, that's what a "so bad it's good" movie is all about.
Other Complaints: As a minor point of argument, the title is more than a little misleading, as is appears all of the underwater action takes place at a depth of approx 20-30 feet, a far cry from the 10,000 Leagues promised by the film's title. I assume "10,000 Leagues" just looked better than "The Phantom of muddy, shallow water"
Overall: If you are like me and can't resist a good B-movie, do yourself a favor and check this movie out. Note: the film will improve with time (of night) and alcohol consumption.
Grade: B (of course!)