I wonder if Edgar Allan Poe had any idea just how influential his writings would become to future generations. I mean, how many movies have been released that are based or inspired by one of his poems or short stories. However many there are, today’s movie can be added to that list. Now I will admit that I never heard of the poem that this movie is loosely based on but that isn’t too surprising as he has a fair amount of work that I have never heard of. So let’s see just what kind of a movie we have as I watch War-Gods Of The Deep.
The plot: When the body of a lawyer washes up on the shore of Cornwall, England, Ben Harris, an American mining engineer, decides to head to the nearby hotel to speak with Jill Tregellis, whom the lawyer was working for. When he reaches the hotel, he finds the hotel suffering from a black out and the doorman escorts him to the library where Jill is. As he opens the door, Ben catches a rooster that flies up towards him and Jill explains the rooster is Herbert, then introduces Ben to an eccentric artist named Harold Tufnell-Jones, who is on top of a bookcase. After Ben helps Harold down, he asks Jill about her lawyer and she says he is in the study across the hall. When they head there, they hear a commotion from inside the room and Ben tells Jill to go back to the library while he heads inside. Ben finds the room ransacked and as he looks around, he is attacked by a gillman, who throws some items at him before disappearing through a secret passage in the wall. Jill and Harold enter the room just as the lights come on and when Jill asks where her lawyer is, Ben tells her he found his body on the beach. After questioning Jill about who would want to hurt the lawyer, Ben decides to stay the night and sleep on the couch in the study in case whatever was there decides to come back. Later that night, Jill enters the room to check on Ben when she is grabbed by the gillman and taken through the secret passage. Roused by the commotion, Ben looks around before he hears someone approaching and accidentally attacks Harold when he enters the room. Finding some seaweed near the fireplace, Ben explains what happened and tries locating the secret door when Herbert manages to push the button to open it. Ben, Harold, and Herbert head down the secret passage and come to a swirling pool of water, which Harold accidentally knocks them into. After being sucked down into the water, they find themselves in an underwater city and start exploring. The see a group of men chain another man to a pillar, then leave as the room starts to fill with water. Ben goes to try and free the man but the man tells them to leave before they drown with him. Continuing into the city, Ben and Harold are confronted by a man and Ben grabs him and asks where Jill is before knocking the man out. As a sudden tremor rocks the city, Ben and Harold are confronted by The Captain, who leads them to a window to show them the city in the sea. He points out the nearby volcano, and says that the tremors have been getting stronger and could be signaling the end of the city but doesn’t know when it will occur; a year, a month, perhaps even a week. Harold starts babbling and says that Ben could help stop the volcano and the Captain has them taken to the library so they can figure out a plan. Once they are alone, Ben asks Harold what he was thinking and Harold explains that he was trying to stall for time, as the Captain doesn’t know that Ben can’t help him. One of the Captain’s crew, Dan, enters the room and tells them that he can help them escape from there and says he wants them to convince the authorities to grant him a full pardon for his smuggling crimes. Suddenly, the Captain enters the room with some more of his men and they take Dan prisoner. The Captain explains that the gas that they breathe that allows them to survive down there for so long has altered there bodies, which would cause them to age quickly and die if they were exposed to sunlight, then orders Dan to be executed by taking him to the surface to see for himself. The Captain then has Dan and Harold blindfolded and leads them to the room where Jill is being kept so they can see she is still alive. After speaking with her, they are joined by another man, Reverend Jonathan Ives, who says he has been down there for several decades. The Captain then takes Ben and Harold from the room but Harold was able to count the steps they took and the two find their way back to Jill. Once they reach her, they try to get Jonathan to tell them of a way out of there but before they can leave, they are captured by The Captain and his men. The Captain says that he will let the gillman decide their fate and explains that the gillmen want to sacrifice them to the volcano, thinking it might appease it and stop the tremors. Ben and Harold are taken from the room and told that guards will be posted outside to keep them from escaping. As Ben and Harold try to figure out their next move, Jill and Jonathan enter the room, having knocked out the guard. Jonathan explains that they have to whisper, as there are listening tubes in the walls that allow the Captain and his men to hear them, and tells them that he knows the way out but the land passage is currently underwater so the only way they can make it out in time is to use the breathing helmets and walk across the ocean floor to the tunnel. Jonathan heads to the Captain’s room and sounds the bells, signalling Ben and the others to head out but as they enter the room, Jill notices a picture on the wall of the Captain’s dead wife and realizes she looks just like her, explaining the Captain’s obsession with Jill. As Ben, Jill, and Harold don the suits and head out onto the ocean floor, the Captain and his men follow after them, signalling the gillmen to help stop them. After struggling with the gillmen and avoiding the crossbows from the Captain’s men, they reach the tunnel and Ben goes looking for the passage to the surface, while Harold and Jill chase after Herbert, who had escaped from Harold’s suit. When a sudden tremor rocks the cavern, Jill and Harold find themselves trapped, just as the Captain and his surviving men arrive and attempt to kill Ben. Ben is able to knock out the men while a tremor cause part of the statues to fall onto the Captain, trapping them. Ben manages to free Jill and HArold but the tremors have blocked the passageway to the surface so they quickly don the suits and make their way to the surface along the sea bed. The gillmen attack Ben and the others but they manage to kill them with the underwater crossbows and make it to the surface. Meanwhile, as the tremors increase and lava begins to enter the chamber, some falling debris breaks the statue enough for the Captain to escape. e finds the passage to the surface cleared and he makes his way up towards the surface only to have the sunlight quickly age him and he collapses and dies at the chamber’s entrance. Ben, Jill, and Harold watch from the surface as the volcano erupts, destroying the underwater city for good.
You know, a lot of adventure/fantasy style movies came out in the late 50’s/early 60’s and no matter the plot, they all had the same basic feel to them. Today’s movie is no different, a decent movie but honestly lacked that true original feel to it that would make it stand out from the others. The acting was ok, with Vincent Price playing his usual stoic persona, while David Tomlinson was really funny in his bizarre antics as Harold. Unfortunately, I thought Tab Hunter (Ben) and Susan Hart (Jill) both seemed too bland to really garner any sympathies from the audience. The story was pretty interesting but there were elements that seemed to play out in a lot of other movies, such as the volcano playing a integral role in the movie’s climax like in Atragon or Journey To The Center Of The Earth. The special effects were ok while the costume designs for the gillmen, as well as the diving helmets, were actually pretty good. A good movie but nothing especially noteworthy about it.
Rating: 3 out of 5