Review Date: 9/13/20
Cast: Vincent Price, Tab Hunter, David Tomlinson, Susan Hart
Based on the poem "City In The Sea" by Edgar Allan Poe, this film is about a sunken city off the coast of England, ruled with an iron fist by the psychotic Captain Hugh (Vincent Price). The city is threatened by a nearby volcano, which forces him to send teams of mermen to the surface in search of scientific knowledge. They also kidnap a pretty young woman named Jill (Susan Hart) who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Captain's late wife. Naturally, he becomes obsessed with her. Ben (Tab Hunter) is a rival love interest, and he's determined to rescue Jill with the aid of a goofy and eccentric artist named Harold (David Tomlinson). There's also a pet rooster named Herbert that's used for comedy effect, and he's as much of a burden as he is a help. Once they reach the underwater city, the Captain refuses to let them leave and threatens to kill them if they don't figure out a way to stop the volcano. Escape is the only option, but it won't be easy.
The film looks great for the most part. The sets are gorgeous and about half of the underwater footage looks fantastic. Unfortunately, some of the visual effects are weak and the underwater climax is a bit murky. The climax is also overly long and uninteresting, which brings the pacing to a screeching halt. Vincent Price is delightful as the deranged and power-mad Captain, and his performance is both menacing and subdued. He's a perfect gentleman with a touch of madness, and Price excels at this. Tab Hunter makes a charming and dashing hero, although it's unclear what his role is and why he's in England in the first place. Harold is totally ridiculous and exists solely for comedy relief. Reportedly, the script was re-written to include this character, which caused the original producer to exit the production. While David Tomlinson does a fine job with the role, the character is pointless and annoying. Susan Hart is lovely, but has little to do other than offer up a heaving bosom and slow down the escape effort. Her resemblance to the Captain's wife is never explained or explored, which results in some awkward moments of manufactured drama. Another problem with the film is that the aspect ratio changes between scenes throughout the entire film and is never correct. Part of this might be due to the Blu-ray itself, since I've noticed that Blu-rays tend to stretch inappropriately, but that doesn't account for the aspect ratio constantly changing within the movie. Regardless, it's a huge distraction and annoyance.
I really wanted to like this movie, but the story is too thin to fill out a feature length production, and the boring climax deflates all of the previously built up tension. The humor is distracting and weak, and the rooster is downright embarrassing. It's frustrating, because there are some neat ideas and visuals going on in the film, but not enough structure to hold them together. Still, fans of Vincent Price should probably check it out.