"My Real Name Is XK-150..."
Robert I. Hedges | 02/03/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
""Creature From the Haunted Sea" was a Roger Corman improvised monster cheapie made as an afterthought while he was in Puerto Rico after he shot "Battle of Blood Island" and "Last Woman on Earth" (which is why "Last Woman on Earth" features the same cast as "Creature From the Haunted Sea"). The results are a choppy mess that defines the monster-musical-spy-comedy-spoof genre for the 1960's. I had to watch this one in multiple sittings despite the very short running time.
The film opens to the sonorous tune of flatulent woodwinds and silly animation. In disguise, secret agents XK-120 and XK-150 (who also provides the film's attempt at continuity via his incoherent narration) meet in a bar. Agent XK-120 has a decoder ring, and the plot quickly delves into the Cuban revolution (while the soundtrack sounds as if Gene Krupa had invaded Cuba) and a plot to loot the Cuban treasury. After a subplot about sharpened garden rakes, the Cubans give the bulk of their treasury to trustworthy American mobsters led by Antony Carbone as Renzo Capetto. Ponder. Fortunately XK-150 is on the case to tell us what's happening, although it still makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. XK-150 also keeps the loyal Cuban resistance informed by making a radio out of hot dogs and dill pickles. I am not joking. The Cuba stuff is just awful.
Where will the film go from there, you may well ask. The principal cast gets on a boat from Cuba, and the journey takes days: it's 198 miles from Miami to Havana. To the tune of lots of schizophrenic xylophone music, Pete, a gangster, does animal impressions (his favorite is the Himalayan yak), Cuban comic relief General Tostada becomes a target of many hilarious translating errors, and (finally) there is a murder onboard, which is quickly blamed on the rake monster.
The beauty of the movie, though, is there really is a rake monster, which is a creature of staggering comic proportions, complete with ping pong ball eyes. He immediately targets the boat, which sets a course for monster avoidance. The Cuba plot and sea monster plot do not go together like peanut butter and chocolate; they're more like battery acid and lye. As the sea monster plot eclipses the Cuban revolution plot, the film officially becomes a train wreck.
Onboard the boat the General wants to go to Caracas, the mandatory wily female, Mary-Belle, wants to go to Cannes, someone else wants to go to Bali, Indonesia, and Renzo wants to go to San Juan. XK-150 reports that they are going to Bali, and recommends an intercept in the Panama canal, whereupon the Cuban Coast Guard pursues the boat to get their gold back. This chase gives rise to the most painful scene of the film, when tone deaf Mary-Belle belts out a tune that is really and truly one of the worst songs I have ever heard anywhere. The Coast Guard intercept also gives rise to an unfortunate gunfight, and an even more unfortunate fish fight.
The crime boss conjures a very obscure plan involving running the ship aground, and then capsizing it (?), so he hypnotizes the animal husbandry expert to help execute the plan. Unfortunately, despite all the careful planning, the boat collides with the monster and they try to abandon ship right there: you know, where the monster is. XK-150 takes this all in stride and compares it with some time he spent on Lake Minnetonka. Fortunately the cast boards a lifeboat and alights on an abandoned island near San Juan, whereupon an extremely complex plan for hiding the gold unfolds.
After the most painful collect call in screen history, the cast busies themselves with island habitation. Pete finds his Puerto Rican love connection, and their mating ritual is something you do not want anything to do with. The male cast members end up with Puerto Rican women thanks to a matronly matchmaker named Porcina and her daughter Mango: it helps for the matchmaking bit if you know some elementary Spanish. It doesn't make it any better, but it makes it more comprehensible.
It becomes a race to dive on the boat for the gold: Cuban frogmen are diving the wreck. Renzo dives the wreck, finds the strongbox; at the same time the monster finds him, therefore, the monster has found the strongbox. (Question: why are they diving with both spears and toilet plungers? Follow up: what does the monster want with the gold?) In a foreshadowing of "Jaws", the monster takes Mango underwater, and the movie ends with an annoying monster-infested screamfest that is sure to annoy. I'm pretty tolerant of bad movies, but the plot resolution here is too much to take: it is both confusing and stupid.
I love B-movies of all eras and genres, but this is one of the toughest I have ever sat through. I have endured most of the Corman catalog, and believe this to be his worst film ever, and that's saying something. From the terrible and incoherent narration ("It was dusk. I could tell because the sun was going down."), to the ridiculous monster, to the brainless script, awful acting, relentless soundtrack, and inept secret agent, this was a turkey of enormous proportions."
Silly Instead of Funny
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 06/05/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"No one watches a Roger Corman film with the expectation that it will have a coherent script, solid production values, or memorable performances. Done on the cheap, his films were calculated to draw a teenage audience with clever titles and flashy posters that inevitably promised more than they delivered. Some are better, some are worse, and some are intended to be funny. The 1961 CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA was among those intended to be funny--but there are only about ten minutes of comical in the film. The rest of it is slow moving and silly in a very tiresome sort of way.
Renzo (Antony Carbone), Mary-Belle (Betsy Jones-Moreland), and their henchmen are hired to smuggle a crate of Cuban gold off the island. Once at sea, Renzo and his bozos (Beach Dickerson and Robert Bean) decide to get rid of the Cuban guards by killing them one by one and laying the blame on an imagined sea monster. But there really is a sea monster, and he is just as content to munch on Renzo and company as he is on Cubans.
There are actually two good things about the film. Carbone and Jones-Moreland, both of whom went on to significant careers, tear a page from the Bogart and Bacall film KEY LARGO, and they both do a fairly amusing job of impersonating those performers--even if Jones-Moreland is really more Clair Trevor than Lauren Bacall. And while Robert Bean isn't a greatly memorable actor, he's certainly a memorable hunk who really should have busted out of the B-horror-movie trade and taken up skin flicks instead. He could have a fortune.
That said, the whole movie looks as if it was shot on a budget of a buck and a quarter. As for the sea monster, it looks pretty much like a scuba diver wrapped up in somebody's old carpet with a couple of pingpong balls attached for eyes. Yes, it is supposed to be funny. No, it isn't. Unless you're a fan of Corman flicks or one of the stars, do yourself a favor and give it a miss.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer"