Should've gone deeper.
Doghouse King | Omaha, NE United States | 11/13/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"AIP's main contribution to the horror genre in the 60's was their series of "Poe adaptions." If Poe wrote down a grocery list it became a movie starring Vincent Price. And many of these were fine efforts. But most such movies (including some from other studios which also starred Price) stuck slavishly to this formula, even using it for movies based on the writings of other authors. By 1965 the formula had degenerated, as formulas are wont to do. Poe, Lovecraft and Verne adaptions all felt basically the same. And War Gods of the Deep is no different than any of them (Compare Die, Monster, Die; House of Usher; Master of the World; The Mysterious Island and this film and you'll see what I mean.) It is nominally based on City Under The Sea, but is more in keeping with Captain Nemo than Edgar Allen.Director Jacques Tourneur was a tremendous filmmaker who helmed some of the defining genre pieces of the 40's: Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie and Out of the Past. His career wound up with this and Comedy of Terrors. And while he is not to be blamed for their mediocrity, it is unfortunate that they have almost none of the atmosphere of his earlier works. Much of that can be attributed to 60's tastes, but it makes me wish these last few films had been shot in contrasty black and white.The plot of WG of the D is simplicity itself: The nightgown-clad hottie is kidnapped (the movie's best scene); they follow her trail (with a few leaps in logic) and come upon the underwater city; they meet Price, learn of an active volcano; see where this is going?; they wander around some, get threatened, uncover a few secrets, and eventually escape in a too-long, too-dull (but decently directed) slow-speed chase along the bottom of the sea. Things pick up slightly at the very end with a shootout and the inevitable volcanic eruption, but it's far too little, far too late. A rooster (yes, that's right) is on hand for some comic relief; he is cute, I guess, but his doting master gave me the dry heaves.The sets are surprisingly good for an AIP costumer; the effects are very good for the time, the creature costumes are only okay, but seldom seen anyway. Due in part to the tiny role the Gill-Men play, there are almost no chills whatsoever. In fact, the only one more wasted than the Gill-Men was the hottie. (I will say, she is the one person in the cast that can make a giant helmet with a fish on it look attractive.) And Vincent Price coasted through this role; it was the kind of power-mad tragic figure he could play in his sleep. Still, a coasting Vincent Price is better than most anyone else.MGM is to be highly-commended for making this long-unavailable movie (and many like it) available at such a neat price. The cover art on these things is almost worth it by itself. And the print of this movie looks great. It's just not a great movie.See also: The films aforementioned; Mole People"
Enjoyable and Visually Appealling Film
cookieman108 | 01/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although the story-telling and pacing leave much to be desired, this is a nice addition to the collectible MGM Midnite Movies series. Great sets, locations, and actors (Vincent Price, whom many would pay to hear recite his laundry list) make this a visually appealing film. I disagree with Maltin's comment about the "shoddy underwater city". For its time, the visual effects (with the notable exception of the gill-men ), sets, and props were impressive. Dive in and see for yourself."
War Gods, what are they good for? Absolutely nothing, uh huh
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 04/22/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"In an effort to determine what exactly went wrong with War Gods of the Deep (1965) aka City in the Sea, I looked at the individuals involved in bringing this film to life. The story is based on an Edgar Allen Poe poem, The City in the Sea, so it had good roots. The director, Jacques Tourneur, seems quite accomplished, at the very least prolific, directing scads of films and television shows from the 30's all the way into the 60's. Let's look at the writers...Charles Bennett, well, he appears to be a very capable writer, responsible for a few films I've really enjoyed like The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and The 39 Steps (1935). Let's see, who is the other writer? Louis M. Heyward? The schlock producer/writer responsible for such films like Pajama Party (1964), Sergeant Dead Head (1965), and Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966)? Oh bruther...Oh wait, I also see he was a production executive for KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)...I think I've found the weak link in this production.The film stars Vincent Price as The Captain, 50's teen heart throb (also known as 'the sigh guy') Tab Hunter as Ben Harris, Susan Hart (who was married at the time to James H. Nicholson, one of the founders of the AIP, the studio that released this film...big mystery as to how she got the part here...) as Jill Tregillis, English character actor David Tomlinson as the foppish Harold Tiffin-Jones, and Herbert, the chicken...yes, there is a chicken in this film, and it did get a screen credit at the end.Okay, the film opens pretty well, with a dark and stormy night and a large, isolated manor house/hotel on a secluded Cornish coast, sitting on the edge of a high cliff before the raging sea. A body washes onto the shore, and some locals discover it's a lawyer who is assisting American Jill Tregillis manage the transition of an estate from a recently passed relative...I think...the finer points of the story got a little muddled, and continued to do so throughout the film. Ben Harris, and American geologist (I think) gets involved, for whatever reason, and goes to tell Jill that her lawyer (or barrister, as I think they are referred to in good old England) has bit the proverbial big one. No one seemed particularly put out by this fellow's demise, giving me the impression that the English feel the same about their legal professionals as we do in the states. Here we meet one of the residents of the house, an artist named Harold Tiffin-Jones, and his pet chicken named Herbert. Why does he have a pet chicken? Well, I didn't get the impression he was married, so draw your own conclusions. After Ben has a slight skirmish with a mysterious intruder, he finds that Jill is missing, so he, Harold, and Hubert investigate. They find a secret passage, one that leads to caves and such beneath the manor, and find a giant whirlpool, to which they promptly fall in...what a couple of goons...and awaken in the city underneath the sea...oh bruther...Some stuff happens, barely, and the boys (and the chicken) meet The Captain. Seems many moons ago the city was a land based one, but fell into the sea, pulled there by an underwater volcano. The residents at the time, being very smart, fashioned machines and such to enable them to continue to live in their city, but weren't smart enough just to just leave the city as it was sinking...and now The Captain is the leader, king, whatever, of the now remnants of this once great city, and is desperately searching for a way to save the city from the increasingly active volcano that threatens their existence, sending fish men and such to the surface to steal books, kidnap people, whatever, all in a means to try and stave off disaster. Yes, there are fish men, who aid the humans in the city underneath the sea for some reason or other. Why? I haven't the slightest idea... Why don't the humans just leave the city, you ask? I wondered that myself... Well, living in the sea has been a sort of blessing as well as a curse, extended their lives to highly un-natural lengths, but has rendered them highly susceptible to the ultra-violet rays of the sun in that prolonged exposure would cause rapid aging followed by death. Why kidnap Jill? Because she bears an uncanny likeness to The Captain's deceased wife...oh bruther...War Gods of the Deep actually has some pretty good-looking sets and gave a glimmer of hope that was soon extinguished as the plot unfolded. As far as the source material is involved, Price does have some voice-over with him reading passages from the Edgar Allen Poe poem, but that's about it...Vincent Price and David Tomlinson are fun to watch, but really can't help save this drecky mess. Tab Hunter and Susan Hart are obviously thrown in for eye candy, as neither seems entirely capable of pulling off their respective characters. This film seems to try to do for Edgar Allen Poe's poem what Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) for Jules Verne's story, even borrowing elements from that much better film, replacing the goose from the film with a chicken. Too bad it didn't work. Oh, and I can't finish without mentioning the drawn-out underwater scenes that tried to create all kinds of suspense and tension, but due to the fact that movement is restricted and everyone moves, in effect, slow motion, these scenes had quite the opposite effect, and will probably prompt the viewer to be looking for the fast forward on the remote.The wide screen print here looks okay, with a few blemishes, and there is a trailer, but that's it for special features, unless you count the availability of French and Spanish subtitles. Cookieman108"
Just how many lost cities ARE there on this planet??
Joseph P. Menta, Jr. | Philadelphia, PA USA | 12/13/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Overall mediocre movie nevertheless maintains a minimal level of interest due to good production design and genuinely oddball plot. The widescreen print is marred by minor imperfections every few minutes, but is basically in good shape, with rich colors and good sound. I have my doubts that the comic-relief chicken appeared anywhere in the original Poe source material, but I guess worse travesties have been committed in the name of "artistic interpretation"."