While Blu-ray has certainly taken over the store shelves, forgotten gems continue to be released on DVD. VCI Entertainment just released two volumes of double features under the Creepy Creature Double Feature moniker. At $10 each, these double features are just too good to pass up.
First up, The Monster From The Ocean Floor from 1954. This is a straight forward monster flick with little action and plenty of filler. Julie Blair (Anne Kimball, guest star in TV series such as Boston Blackie and The Cisco Kid) is an American on vacation in a village in Mexico near the ocean. As she gets to know the locals, she begins to hear of a mysterious creature in the ocean who some feel is responsible for a series of unexplained disappearances. She meets a marine biologist named Steve Dunning (Stuart Wade, Teenage Monster and The Thing That Wouldn’t Die). They fall deeply in love in mere hours, per the usual script device of 1950s monster flicks. While diving in the ocean, Julie encounters a monster but nobody will believe her. The creature seems to resemble a cross between an amoeba and an octopus. Apparently all the budget could afford. Meanwhile, a local drunk named Pablo (played by director Wyott Ordung) is coerced by an old woman to sacrifice Julie to the monster as the locals feel that will calm the beast per the legends. After a sample of the creature is analyzed by Steve and his associate, Dr. Baldwin, they rush back to help Julie, who is on the verge of becoming another victim. Using his fancy little submarine made for one, the creature is defeated and our happy couple is ready to go off into the sunset.
I’ve been aware of this one for a while but never took the time to sit down for the 65 minute runtime. This new DVD release was enough to convince me and it wasn’t a horrible way to spend an hour. The movie was reportedly made for $30,000 and it more than made its money back. Legendary producer Roger Corman (403 titles and counting), in his first full producing gig, got the idea for the movie from an article he read on the one-man submarine that features so prominently in the plot. Director Wyott Ordung was a jack-of-all-trades. In addition to playing the character of Pablo, he was also an assistant director on The Navy vs. The Night Monsters and writer of Robot Monster. Yes, you can see his standards were quite low. With some painfully obvious post-production dubbing, the movie suffers from an overall lack of action. It’s worth a novelty watch for Roger Corman fans and it does have a certain amount of charm as long as you go into it with low expectations. Perhaps the best part of the DVD is a great interview between Tom Weaver (author, Universal Horrors: The Studio’s Classic Films 1931-1946) and Roger Corman, as well as some additional trivia from Tom that plays out as more entertaining than the movie itself and almost as long.
The second half of our double feature is Serpent Island (1954). I’m not going to write too much here as Barry Harding did a great write-up over at his blog, monsterminions. Suffice to say that this is another 63 minutes with a meandering script and horrible acting. A plot that takes forever to develop, a giant rubber snake and the entertainingly bad Sonny Tufts (star of my number 3 worst DVD watch of last year, Cat-Women on the Moon). Not to mention it has a fair amount of footage from an apparent voodoo ceremony and some crazy narration from Tufts. It’s worth a watch once if for no other reason than some of the great color imagery from another legend, Bert I. Gordon (The Amazing Colossal Man and The Cyclops).
This DVD is readily available on Amazon and the usual sources. Its well-worth adding to your collection for some mindless diversions. Next time, we’ll take a look at what volume two has to offer.