Friday, November 16, 2007

B-Movie Catechist's Monthly Film Club: Creature from the Haunted Sea

And two thirds of the way through the movie, the monster shows up.

I'm nearly speechless. For a monthly film club, The B-Movie Catechism has caused a number of people to watch Roger Corman's Creature from the Haunted Sea, available at Google Video. Sadly, this is not the worst movie I've seen recently.

To make a longer-than necessary story short, it's Cuba and Castro has come to power. Counter-revolutionaries, dreaming of recapturing their country, have made off with the Cuban treasury and have cooked up a scheme that sounds like one of those Nigerian e-mail scams: they promise an American gangster that if he'll take half the Cuban treasury out of the country on his yacht, they'll let him keep a tenth of it.

The gangster, of course, wants the whole thing. To keep it, he'll have to find a way to off all the bumbling Cuban soldiers who are traveling on his yacht with him. To do that, he cooks up a scheme with his oddball cronies to create a fake sea monster that will kill the Cuban soldiers one at a time--only problem is, there's a real sea monster, and it's wearing one of those fake rubber suits the B-Movie Catechist loves so much.

An inept American spy has managed to work his way into the gangster's crew. He doesn't do much besides narrate the movie and hit on the gangster's girlfriend. Eventually, to escape the monster, this group lands the yacht somewhere near Puerto Rico and then a whole bunch of women show up for no reason as the Cubans and the gangster's crew all try to get their hands on the money.

This movie does have some memorable and very funny lines, including, "As an American gambler and gangster, you're above suspicion," "We'll jump overboard and swim for it--through shark-infested water, of course, so no one will follow us," "No matter where you go or what you do or who you kill--I'll love you til the day I die," and ,"Well, she was living in a sort of sorority house down by the docks--she's awful friendly."

At the end of the film, the monster dispenses monster judgment. Everyone guilty of being a gangster, being a murderer, being an adulterer, being a thief, or being a Cuban is dead and the only characters left alive are the American spy and his reformed-prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold girlfriend.

I'm supposed to find a religious message or something in here as a member of the Film Club. Only problem is, this movie is a load of cinematic cotton candy--you bite into it and find there's nothing there. The monsteresque Last Judgment at the end is kind of nice, however. There is always something satisfying--not necessarily healthy, but satisfying--in watching villains come to a sticky end, as they usually do in comic books, boys' adventure novels, and some other fare I'm known to read from time to time.

I think the reason we like to see the villains Get Theirs is because we do have built into us a sense of justice. Movies like Creature from the Haunted Sea take a certain reality for granted, that negative actions have negative consequences. So the movie could be viewed as a morality tale: thou shalt not steal gold from Cuba and murder people to cover thy tracks. All in all, I'd have to say that's a sound moral message.
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