Cousteau's Ultimate Nightmare:
"Terror from the Depths of the Sea!"
Starring Scott Brady, Sheree North, and Gary Merrill
Written by Arthur C. Pierce
Directed by Francis D. Lyon
We know more about the surface of Mars than we do the bottom of the sea. That is true, isn't it? No matter, even if we looked, do you think we'd find Tiny Model Alien Ships, Frozen Extraterrestrial Sausages, or Terrifying Latex Creatures??? Well, you do in Destination Inner Space, a dull, plodding, silly movie about just those things. Poor modelwork, wooden acting, clichés abounding. It's great!
Let us begin. We open with a shot of a speedboat on water as seen from a hovering helicopter, racing along. Then we get the music. This is only the first instance of loud, overly dramatic music designed to take up the excitement slack of the movie. The title is in slanted letters, to match the orientation of the boat on screen. There are two men aboard this small, twin-engine outboard. I think the sound of the boat was dubbed in. As the credits continue, we're shown many shots of this boat racing along from various altitudes and angles. Finally, when the credits end, the boat slows and pulls up to a large barge (that rhymes!) with a sign mounted aboard that reads "Institute of Marine Science". The music changes to a weird, undersea music with weird plucking sounds, a kind of etherial music.
Aboard the barge, which is referred to as "Topside", the skipper meets one of the guys from the boat, a naval officer named Commander Wayne (Scott Brady). Wayne was apparently called there by Doctor LaSatier (Gary Merrill), who works under the water in the "Sea Lab". The skipper doesn't know much, being stationed on Topside, but he thinks something odd is happening down there. The radio guy calls Sea Lab, informing them of Wayne's arrival. Meanwhile, Wayne and the skipper chat about Wayne serving aboard a submarine and how uncomfortable it can be. Then Wayne heads off to go down to the Sea Lab in the service bell. The skipper predicts that Wayne will want to be back on Topside when this is all over. How right he'll be.
We see brief shots of machinery and a winch letting some cable go. The skipper watches. Then we see the first instance of the movie's modelwork. It's a yellow capsule riding down the cable to the Sea Lab, which is on the seafloor. However, this diving bell looks to be three inches long and made of plastic, and Wayne is supposed to be inside this thing! The model of the bell bounces around rather violently, but Wayne stands comfortably inside. The bell drops down to the Sea Lab, another tiny model no more than a foot long. It's yellow, looks to be made of plastic, and is crucifix-shaped. A few cables and hoses connect it to Topside. The model may only be in a few feet of water, and it's either a very small model, or the stands of seaweed around it are very tall. Really, they could have tried to convince us.
Anyway, the bell docks with the Sea Lab, and out comes Wayne. He's greeted by Doctor James, a lady named Renee Peron (Sheree North) who wears loose clothes and necklaces that are awfully big, and a Chinese cook. Then Wayne is led to another compartment to meet the big kahuna, Doctor LaSatier (as far as I can tell, "satier" is not a French word. Am I wrong about this?)
The set for the Sea Lab is drab (another rhyme!) Really, it's all grey and very consistently boring. There are numerous hatches, but little in the way of pipes, gauges, meters, and stuff like that which I would expect to see in a place with a regulated atmosphere. Also, the Sea Lab is very spacious for an undersea environment, suspiciously like a movie set. I've seen pictures of Aquarius, a real undersea laboratory that houses six scientists. Talk about cramped!
Wayne meets LaSatier at a SONAR screen in another large room. LaSatier notes that the "object" has returned, and is moving closer to them. It has been there for two hours, and has appeared five times before, moving at random. This was the reason Wayne was called from whatever important navy duty he had. Wayne takes a set of headphones, and notes that the object makes no sounds that would indicate motors or propellers, so it's not a submarine.
Renee perhaps jokingly thinks it's a whale, but LaSatier is quick to dismiss that, and he takes Wayne to another room to show him why. Meanwhile, why do they refer to Renee by her first name? She's supposed to be a marine biologist, does that not imply a doctoral degree? Shouldn't it be Dr. Peron? Oh well, she's just a woman after all :P
In a smaller room filled with tape recorders and oscilloscopes (of course) and other technical equipment, we are shown that this object emits ultrasonic waves, thus ruling out whales and dolphins. We also get to hear the songs of real dolphins. They sound like Mini-Me! Meanwhile, I was asking myself a simple question: Don't dolphins emit ultrasound for navigational purposes? No matter, after that thought I noted the window in the wall. It's an aquarium mounted in the wall with some fish in it, to convince us that we are indeed underwater.
The signal vanishes from the oscilloscope, and Renee checks in to report that the object is moving away. LaSatier notes that someone named Maddox in the minisub will be disappointed; he was sent out to get photos. Everybody heads to the command center.
Next, we see shots of a real minisub, manned by two people. It floats around a coral reef, and for 56 seconds, we see the sub, various coral structures, and fish swimming around. It could be an episode of The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. I guess Maddox is in there.
Suddenly, with a loud burst of music, we see a metallic saucer-shape in the distance, floating away. Again, it appears to be a small model, even when obscured by distance in whatever sea (or possibly tank) they filmed this movie in. It makes an odd spaceshipy sound. I thought it was only making ultrasonic sounds, sounds that can't be heard by humans! Maddox and his companion get some photos, and radios in to the command center.
Maddox describes the saucer over the radio as large. LaSatier orders Maddox to return because he's running out of air. I noted the crucifix-shaped map of the Sea Lab on the wall of the command center. Yes, this movie wants you to know that Jesus loves you, even if you're a heathen scientist who believes in evolution and all that pap.
Wayne, who was listening to the radio, recognizes Maddox's voice. He asks LaSatier if that man is Hugh Maddox, and LaSatier says he is. Wayne doesn't seem to like Maddox anymore, creating a stirring subplot. Wayne goes over to a large window, and looks out. Unlike the other windows we see, this one is a rear projection screen of some kind, with a real ocean scene on it.
The minisub swims around, and there's more of that odd music. It glides (can I use that word?) to the Sea Lab, and we get more unconvincing exteriors of the said lab. At no point do we see the minisub and/or any humans in conjunction with the Sea Lab. We get a brief shot of a barracuda. Maddox and his companion leave the minisub, and swim into a metal cage underneath the lab (again, we don't see it.) They enter the lab from beneath.
I happen to know that the room used as an entrance and exit for the lab is called a "wet porch". It's basically a room with a hole in the floor that leads outside. Maddox and the other person, a woman named Sandra, swim in and climb out of the hole. They talk their little adventure over, and she says he's always in a hurry, to which he replies:
Maddox: "Not always, honey. I waited thirty years for you to come along."So, are they married or what? Maddox tells us that in two weeks, everyone leaves for Miami because the mission in the lab will be over. Enter LaSatier, who is eager to see the developed photos of the object. While Maddox changes, LaSatier tells him that the thing is not a submarine, and that their guest ruled that possibility out. Maddox is surprised that Commander Wayne is there, and says that no one understands him. Do I smell some bad blood here?
We get a shot of another aquarium-in-the-wall window. The poor fish that are stuck in there! Renee and Wayne are in a room with a table and a microscope, and Renee talks about oceanic study. She says the ocean can feed everyone forever, that it's a "perpetual food factory." Good gravy, what marine biologist views the oceans like that?! Is she a scientist, or a fisherman?! Wayne sits at the microscope, looking at something or other. He hits on her a bit, working towards using a pickup line or two. She then tells him that she's heard them all--she grew up with five brothers. So, her brothers were hitting on her? By then, the photos are ready, and as he leaves, he says that he grew up with a few sisters, and that boys don't tell girls everything. He concludes with this gem:
"Shove that under your microscope and study it."He leaves the room, but before he can reach the command center (or wherever he's going, it's not terribly important,) he gets intercepted by the cook, a man named Ho Lee, in an utterly irrelevant scene. He is one of the worst stereotypical Chinese men I've ever seen in a relatively modern, non Kung-Fu film. He speaks broken English in an accent, and he asks Wayne what he wants for dinner. Wayne asks for seafood, fish in particular, and he leaves Ho Lee. In his big aside to the audience, he asks where he'll get fish. Oh, the HUMOR!!!
A diver walks by with a bag of fish, and Ho Lee asks for them to cook. The problem is that they're specimens, so he doesn't get them. Frustrated, he walks back off to the kitchen.
Sandra, Wayne, LaSatier, and Dr. Wilson are looking at the photos. LaSatier asks if the object is a new Russian sub (those darn communists!) but Wayne dismisses that quickly. It doesn't look like any kind of submarine. Wayne will inform Washington and suggests that LaSatier temporarily ends his work here until the navy can ascertain what this object is, but LaSatier doesn't want to go and won't go. Maddox comes to the table, and makes a somewhat disrespectful-seeming remark to Wayne. LaSatier enforces his authority there, trying to break up their disagreement, but Maddox brings up the Starfish, a sub they both served on in the past.
Suddenly, LaSatier is informed that the object has returned. With an incredibly loud and inappropriate musical flourish, everyone watches it on the SONAR screen. It's heading right for them, but Wayne doesn't think it will attack them; it could have done that before.
Sure enough, we get a shot of the saucer flying through coral. It has fins, so it can work in space and under the waves.
The saucer is emitting the ultrasonic signals it was making before, but now at a much higher frequency. Wayne suggests all the watertight hatches be sealed, and Dr. Wilson points out that they have substances aboard which could be "irradiated by high frequency sound waves." WTF?! When did sound become a form of electromagnetic radiation?! Geez, this movie isn't even trying! Just in case, every compartment is sealed, and everybody assumes their emergency stations. There's lots of running to and fro. Two guys stand by in radiation suits. Ho Lee stands in the middle of the cafeteria, holding a platter, with a parrot on his shoulder.
We see a shot of the saucer.
A low rumbling is heard inside the Sea Lab, and Wilson notes that it must be passing over them. Sure enough, out the rear-projection window, we see the saucer flying right over them. Someone says it must be fifty feet across. Yeah, right, it's more like fifty centimetres. The Sea Lab shakes gently as the saucer glides overhead. We even get a shot of the two models during this encounter, looking so small. During the passage, it cut their communication line with Topside.
The saucer meanwhile heads for a deep trench, and Wayne thinks it wants to hide there, otherwise it would have made a more public appearance by now.
We get a shot of the saucer coming to a stop and settling down to rest on the sea floor. I was in awe of the diminutiveness of the model. Sheer tinyness!
LaSatier notes that it has stopped at the very edge of the trench. Everything is okay now, and the crew calms down and leaves their emergency stations. Normal ventilation is resumed. Maddox heads out to fix the communication lines, while Wayne volunteers to take the first overnight shift. Everyone leaves, except Sandy. She asks how life here compares with life aboard a submarine, and Wayne notes that here there are women to work with. Because of that, this crew is the "best looking crew" he ever served with. Sandy then asks what happened between him and Maddox. It was something big enough to make Maddox leave the service. Wayne doesn't want to talk about it, and Sandy assumes Wayne did something bad that he won't share, and she leaves. He then stares out the rear-projection window.
Now for the good part at the alien ship, which sits on the seafloor, bubbling away. Inside the alien spaceship, we are presented with a rather cheap looking set. It is a cylindrical room with a wet porch. A red strobe light spins around like a police siren, and there are a bunch of green triangular doors along the floor. The light stops spinning and focuses on one of these doors, which opens up. A triangular block of ice is pushed out. Inside the ice is what looks like a frozen hot dog. The door closes, and the ice block sits in the red light.
Back at the Sea Lab, Wayne and Maddox are preparing to go out and explore the saucer. Wayne expresses reservations about going with Maddox. Stop whining and just go!
At the wet porch, Wayne gets suited up in a wetsuit. He and Maddox almost fight, and Maddox tells us about what happened aboard the Starfish. Back then, Commander Wayne was the executive officer and Maddox was the chief engineer. Something happened, and a compartment with Maddox and other men inside started flooding with water. Wayne sealed the compartment to prevent the rest of the sub from getting flooded, and left Maddox and the others to drown. Urm, does Maddox not understand the logic behind this? If the sub was flooding and the compartment was left open, Maddox and the others would have died anyway, along with everyone else. Why is he so mad? Wait, that question gets answered in the MAJOR SUBPLOT POINT!!! Wayne points out that Maddox got out. Wayne then tries to do up a strap around his rather large gut, but can't do it initially, and gives up. Meanwhile, Sandy expresses an interest in going, but Wayne suggests she stay. She then says that she takes orders from LaSatier, and will be going anyway. LaSatier shows up and tells Wayne and Maddox not to fight. Wayne tries again to do up the strap, and barely manages to get it done. Once done up, it looks awfully tight. If I were one of the actors there, I think I'd be laughing, but they just read their lines as if nothing is happening. They finish suiting up, and exit the lab.
In the sea, they enter the minisub and putter off. Sandy goes along with a one-man propelling thingy. Sorry I don't know the real term! Wayne wears shorts that are far too short. They head off, and we get some weird music. We see shots of coral and fish, and the movie starts looking like a documentary. We see a big brain coral, which is mildly interesting to look at. Finally, after what seems like an eternity of fish, sea, and coral, the men (and lady) reach the general area of the saucer, and swim the rest of the way. They swim up to a concrete pole, meant perhaps to be one of the saucer's legs, and swim up past the camera so that we get close up leg shots. All in all, this scene takes 4 minutes and 26 seconds to go through, and it is soooo boring and slows the movie right down.
Inside the ship, they surface, pull themselves inside, and look around. It's very cold inside, just above freezing. Wayne automatically assumes that this is an automated alien ship, sent to explore Earth's oceans. Whoa, let's slow down and collect all the facts first. Assuming something you don't know about is alien is usually a sign of mental illness. Sandy finds the large gray sausage lying on the floor, only now the ice is all gone. It's about 12-16 inches long, and perhaps 4 inches wide. They assume it's a container, and it turns out that the red light is a heat lamp, which melted the ice. They figure it came from the triangular compartment directly beside it. Wayne pokes around another door, and finds another frozen sausage inside. You know, they're all sort of blasé about being in an alien spaceship.
Sandy is creeped out by being inside the alien ship. Hey, you wanted to go! Maddox takes the sausage with him despite Wayne's objections. They swim off with it.
It's taken back to the Sea Lab and put down on a table where it can be studied. Dr. Wilson finds out it's emitting sound waves. This movie sure does have a fascination with sound. Everyone makes guesses as to what it is. LaSatier is eager to cut it open, but Wayne finally asserts himself and warns LaSatier not to. Uh oh, usually an overly inquisitive scientist is an inadvertent bad guy in these movies. Wayne is prepared to take control of this operation, and orders no one to touch the sausage. Renee agrees, and looks at it through a magnifying glass. She notes how porous it is, and she realizes that it has grown. Scoffing, Wilson measures it, and it has indeed grown two inches longer than an hour earlier. It's also emitting sound at a higher frequency than before. LaSatier realizes it's using heat to grow (but not air,) and he leaves Wilson and Renee with it. They prepare the X-Ray machine to probe it, when something breaks. They look over, and find the sausage has suddenly doubled in size. It's also making a funny noise.
Now, this scene should have been filmed from a different angle. You see, Wilson assumes a position at the head of the table, and stands such that from our angle, the sausage appears to be emanating from his crotch. Combined with the sausage's shape and size, we are presented with an unpleasant image. I'm sure the actor playing Wilson deliberately stood there.
The sausage is making ultrasonic waves now, and is capable of breaking a large Winchester Bottle filled with acid on a shelf. Renee runs off to get LaSatier, while Wilson takes the acid bottle and hurries it away. Unfortunately, the sound from the sausage quickly becomes deafening, and Wilson drops the bottle to cover his ears and scream in pain. The sausage rolls off the table as acid fumes fill the air.
Wilson, who is screaming and covering his ears, stumbles out of the lab and rolls around on the floor for a little while, holding his head. Wayne and other arrive with gasmasks, and there's general chaos as the lab is sealed off and its ventilation cut off. Eventually, Wayne and an assistant named Tex (who is disposable, by the way) enter the lab with fire extinguishers.
Inside, there are fumes everywhere, and Wayne and Tex fire their extinguishers at the haze as if that would make any difference. Tex finds that the sausage has opened, and whatever was inside is now hanging around somewhere. Tex looks around, and we get a brief shot of a roaring, evil sea monster! It's a fishy monster with big black eyes, a toothy snarl, a scaly body, and large fins. It's quite a sight. A google image search for "Destination Inner Space" will turn up a few pics. Anyway, the monster kills Tex (natch,) and Wayne sprays it with the extinguisher. He then backs out and traps it in the lab. It looks around, but escapes off camera by breaking a window and presumably swimming out. Wayne tells everyone that there's some kind of "amphibious creature" in there. Maddox tries to be a hero and save Tex from the flooding lab, but Wayne and Maddox end up briefly fighting. Maddox curses Wayne for leaving Tex in there, and they radio Topside for help. Maddox doesn't seem to believe that the creature is in there.
It's now suddenly the nighttime. The creature surfaces and infiltrates Topside.
The radio man and the skipper are still there. They have long shifts. They radio the lab, and the lab warns them about the amphibian, as it will be called throughout the movie. Meanwhile, the amphibian is throwing crewmembers overboard. Wayne asks for naval units equipped with depth charges, but as the Topside radio man is taking this message down, the amphibian storms in and kills the skipper and the radio man. Wayne loses contact, and the amphibian leaves. Wayne thinks that the amphibian wants to kill everyone who saw it, to keep its existence secret. LaSatier defends it, as it may be a confused and frightened wild animal, but just then Renee screams.
Out the rear projection window, we see the amphibian swim closer and closer, getting bigger and bigger in the window. Unfortunately, it gets quite large in the window, much larger than it should be. This is the problem with a rear projection window. LaSatier lowers a window guard to keep the creature from breaking in, but the guard is a metal screen with holes large enough to fit a fist through. It wouldn't do any good. It swims away, but cuts their air line with Topside, giving the Sea Lab only twelve hours of air from the reserve tanks. Wayne is positive that the amphibian killed everyone aboard Topside.
Dr. James enters, reporting that Wilson has a cerebral hemorrhage and needs to be hospitalized, but they can't do anything. This is turning out to be a pretty crappy day. Wayne, however, has a plan.
He will go out with a speargun and shoot the creature. After checking the wet porch to see if the way is clear, Wayne is paired up with an assistant named Mike, and they get some spearguns. However, as they open the hatch, the amphibian lunges at the door, and they struggled to keep it in the wet porch. As the hatch is closed, it scratches Mike on the shoulder, and Mike falls back as if lethally wounded. Dr. James is called. Busy night, I guess.
The amphibian swims off, locking the gate behind it.
The stranded crew discuss their options. A supply vessel arrives at noon the next day, which is too late. Wayne orders more compartments closed to conserve air, but LaSatier is reluctant to close the biology lab because the specimens will die without air. Er, these are fish you're talking about, right? Fish which live in water? No, I guess there are air-breathing animals that live in the sea. Despite LaSatier's objections, the biology lab is closed off. We then learn that Wilson died from his hemorrhage, and there's a brief moment of LaSatier looking out the rear-projection window contemplatively. We sure do see a lot of that window.
In the infirmary, Renee tends to Mike, who's running a fever. Dr. James is looking at amphibian tissue samples through his microscope. Wayne comes in to check on things. Apparently, the amphibian is infected with some disease. They theorize that the amphibian race sent out some of its members to try and escape a plague. If that were so, why would they send out an infected one? They're not sure if it's contagious, but just in case, Dr. James prepared a vaccine. Now, vaccines are used against viruses, and there is no way that he saw a virus through that small optical microscope he was using. The vaccine may or may not work, but in eight hours, the air runs out so it won't matter. Dr. James will vaccinate the whole crew, and Wayne leaves. Outside the infirmary, he looks at a speargun, and gets an idea. Maybe this idea will be more effective than his last idea, which put one man in the infirmary.
In the lab's cafeteria, everybody is sitting around doing nothing in particular. I was wondering how big this sea lab really was. Wayne shows up and asks for help with welding equipment. He wants to set a trap for the amphibian. Maddox taunts Wayne, and Wayne has had it. He loudly confronts Maddox with the facts about what happened aboard the Starfish, and Maddox is forced to confess: There was an escape chamber in the flooding compartment; everyone knew it, including Wayne. Maddox panicked and locked himself in, watching the others drown outside, trying to get in to the escape chamber. All this while, Maddox was in denial. Quite a denial. Wouldn't that sort of action get him arrested and earn him a court martial? Oh, this movie... Anyway, everyone is there to see the great spectacle, including Wayne shouting at Maddox to just tell the truth. That event compelled Maddox to leave the service. Wayne forgives Maddox for the murderous act that he did, and goes to set the traps. Everyone leaves, except Sandy, who stays briefly:
"You know something, Hugh? Until a minute ago, I couldn't find much in you I really liked. Now I think I... I could fall in love with you."*snort* Perhaps a date with O.J. Simpson is in order for this woman. Or maybe Manson is more to her liking. Anyhoo, Maddox goes to help Wayne with the trap.
We see the end result of the trap: a cat's cradle of ropes string up across the main thoroughfare of the lab, attached to spearguns pointed at the hatch to the wet porch. They've been welded at various locations.
We get another exterior shot. If I were the filmmakers, I wouldn't show too much of the embarrassingly small models. Then we get a shot of the crucifix-shaped map on the wall of the control center. Here, when a room is lit up, it means it's closed. A bit illogical.
Wayne orders the thoroughfare cleared, and warns everyone to be very careful around the ropes. Wayne then goes up to the wet porch hatch, and swings it open. Everyone is looking in from adjacent compartments. Wayne taps on the hatch, and outside, the creature hears. The music suddenly swells to very loud levels, enough to give me a cerebral hemorrhage. The amphibian rips the gate right off of the cage, and swims in.
Wayne checks the wet porch, and sees bubbles coming up. He madly dashes through the lines, and everyone watches. The amphibian bursts up, and walks right into the ropes. The harpoons fire and hit the creature multiple times. It lurches back to the wet porch and tries making a getaway. Everyone assembles, but Wayne is cautious since it's just a little wounded. The creature is swimming away, and Wayne wants to catch it. He gets suited up, and we see Maddox looking like he wants to go, but too afraid to make up his mind. Uh oh, it's one of Maddox's panic attacks! Better run, or you'll die!
Meanwhile, the creature very slowly swims away, for one of these reasons:
a) The creature is wounded and cannot swim fast;I tend to think it's c). All I could look at in this scene was a small, unidentified speck of matter (perhaps seaweed) that got stuck in the camera lens and therefore didn't move with the rest of the scene. After it was pointed out, it was all I could see!
Wayne gets suited up (better suck in that gut this time,) and leaves. The music swells again. Maddox finally makes his decision, and he and Ellis suit up to go. Ellis is another assistant, in the same class as Mike and Tex. I was taking bets on whether or not Ellis would die.
The creature continues it's slow swim. I realized at this point that the very visible hump in the costume's back was room for the actor's oxygen tank. I laughed.
Wayne follows the creature.
Maddox and Ellis leave the lab.
Wayne swims on, looking around with a flashlight despite the ocean being quite well lit, especially for the nighttime. Talk about Ed Wood-esque editing!
Renee and Sandy wait inside the lab, pacing around and looking worried. Typical for these movies.
The creature swims slowly, and hides. Wayne almost swims right past it, and it lunges at him. Just then, Maddox shoots it with another spear, and he and Ellis join Wayne. There's a 51-second long underwater fight, one that's a tad hard to see in bubbles and the murk that exists in the ocean. Thunderball, this is not. During the fight, the creature doesn't move too much, and it loses.
We cut back to the sea lab, where somehow, Wayne and the others got the creature aboard. It's tied up and lying on the floor, still alive but sedated. LaSatier is eager to study it (of course.) Wayne thanks Maddox for saving him. How nice. Wayne orders the creature tranquilized while they repair the air and communication lines. James gives the amphibian the first injection, but LaSatier tells him not to deliver the second. He doesn't want to kill the creature. There's a (loud) sinister musical flourish.
Wayne and Maddox go to Topside to see what happened there. They board the boat and look around. All through this scene is music that would have been better placed at the climax of the film. ARRRGGHH!! They find the dead skipper. Tense music accompanies Maddox and Wayne unsuiting. Maddox will try and start the air pumps, while Wayne will check the radio.
Wayne finds the dead radio man, and Maddox comes back just a moment later, saying that he fixed the pumps. Fast worker. However, the winch is out, so the diving bell won't work. Wayne asks for explosives, and there are some aboard. He intends to destroy the alien ship. Or he could radio the navy and get them to do it, but then we wouldn't have the same kind of movie. Another musical flourish.
Below, Dr. LaSatier checks on the amphibian, which is still lying there sedately.
Wayne and Maddox take the explosives to the minisub, and head back to the Sea Lab. The cage has been fixed (?) and they enter the lab. Inside, the two ladies are waiting anxiously, as if they're going out on a date for the first time. Wayne and Maddox enter, and get batteries from some flashlights to finish building their bomb.
Meanwhile, inside the spaceship, another block of ice with a pod inside is pushed out and thawed by the heat lamp.
After an unknown period of work, the bomb is complete. LaSatier is sad, as he wants to explore the alien ship, but they have more important things to worry about. Wayne and Maddox take the bomb, and they pass by the creature, which lies on the floor where in the middle of the thoroughfare. Ellis binds its legs with chain, and Wayne warns everyone to stay away from it. Perhaps putting it in a locked room with no windows would be safer.
Maddox suits up, and Sandy wants to go too, but he says no. He doesn't want to get involved with her, because he's ashamed of what he did before. After this, he says he'll go to another part of the world for a fresh start. They kiss, but Wayne interrupts their little lovey-dovey scene and suits up. Renee watches them go longingly. At least she's smart enough not to want to go.
Outside, Wayne and Maddox climb aboard the minisub. Inside, Sandy suits up anyway, and leaves. By then, the minisub has departed, so she takes the small one-man thingy to follow them. I'm sensing some repetition in this movie.
Inside the ship, the ice pyramid is melting. Gee... what... a... terrifying... prospect...
Renee checks on the amphibian. She heads off, but it stirs around. We can see here that it's bound up very loosely, and it could escape at any time.
Sandy follows Maddox and Wayne to the alien ship.
Renee sits down to give the creature a sponge bath. What a nice thing to do. However, as she's keeping it wet, it growls and starts moving, breaking from its loose chains and standing up. Renee screams (of course,) and backs away towards the hatch to the wet porch. She then slides away, but the creature ignores her. It is intent on leaving the lab. LaSatier arrives, and takes a crowbar to the creature, but the amphibian throws LaSatier aside and breaks through the hatch. Dr. James helps take LaSatier away. The whole while, Renee stands around like a third wheel.
The creature escapes the lab and swims away.
Renee runs to the radio room and asks Ellis to call Wayne, but according to Ellis:
"The hydrophones won't work now."That's it. No explanation given. The radio just doesn't work, at the most crucial time. It's In The Script.
The creature swims, again with slow awkwardness. Sandy follows Wayne and Maddox, and now they see her and let her catch up. The creature follows them. Wayne, Maddox, and Sandy manually swim to the base of the alien ship, passing the concrete post and entering.
Renee waits pensively with LaSatier.
Inside the ship, Wayne sets up sticks of dynamite, and Maddox helps. Sandy just sort of stands around.
The creature swims.
Wayne sets the timer for three minutes. Just then, the amphibian bursts in. Sandy screams. Maddox distracts it with a harpoon, giving Wayne and Sandy time to leave. He has to die, because of the cowardly thing he did in the navy. I mean, he just has to die. Wayne and Sandy leave and swim away. Maddox shoots the creature, but it advances. It throws stuff at Maddox and roars, but Maddox lights a stick of dynamite and uses it as a flare to scare the amphibian. Er, if you're going to leave you'd better go now. It bats the dynamite from Maddox's hand, and it flies into a crate with unlit sticks of dynamite. The creature knocks Maddox over, and tries to head for the dynamite to defuse it, but it's too late. There's an explosion.
The saucer blows up. Of course, we don't actually see it blow up. We just see a shot of a rather small looking puff of dirt raised up from the seafloor. We cut to Wayne and Sandy swimming, and as the saucer blows up behind them (we don't see the saucer and the people at once,) the actors/stuntmen engage in some Shatner-style overacting, doing somersaults in the water and writing around like fish as the explosion's shockwave is supposed to roll past them. They look back, and see the puff of dirt where the saucer once sat. There's no debris. Wayne shakes his head knowingly, and he and Sandy glumly head back to the minisub. The music swells once again.
Now that it's all over, we cut to the diving bell (tee hee) working its way down the line to the Sea Lab. Inside is Commander Wayne. We see more models.
Inside the lab, everyone (who has survived) is packing up to go to Miami. Wayne enters and checks to see if they're ready, and he is told that LaSatier isn't eager to go. The music gets really loud, and Wayne goes to see LaSatier at the rear-projection window. Renee and Dr. James join him. Wayne tells LaSatier that it's time to go, but LaSatier wants to stay and supervise the repairs to the lab. Wayne says that the President wants to meet LaSatier and hold a press conference about the events that happened there. LaSatier regrets the death of the amphibian:
"I also realize how little we know of any of the world except our own. It's ironic, here we are, all set to put men on totally alien planets, and we're completely unequipped to understand a creature from one of those planets. That amphibian was our ultimate opportunity... and we failed."Do you not remember what the creature did? It killed two guys and wounded a third (and we never learn what exactly happened to Mike.) It was also diseased and seemed very unfriendly. Nooo, a great moment in science was squandered just so that we could be safe. Oh, it's so unfair. Besides, I don't think we have to worry about finding amphibians on the Moon, what with its lack of an ocean.
Wayne is optimistic, however. Now everyone knows there are aliens out there, and we will need to learn how to communicate with them, which is something LaSatier can help accomplish. LaSatier leaves the lab with higher spirits, and Dr. James follows him out.
Renee flirts a bit with Wayne, but he's unimpressed and tries guessing at which pickup line she'll use.
Renee: "You think you know it all, don't you?"She then lunges forward losing her pullover in the process, and kisses Wayne full on the mouth. We cut to the credits over scenes of fish and coral, and we get to listen to some loud music.
The cheese factor in this movie is quite high. Everything, from the memorable creature, to the models, to the contrieved "romance" writing shared between Wayne and Renee. Ho Lee's brief comic relief scene was groan inducing, and whatever happened to Mike? Did he survive? I assume he did.
Definitely, my favourite scene was towards the beginning, when Wayne was struggling to fit his girth into the wetsuit. For me, him struggling, and then failing to do up the strap around his gut the first time completely overshadowed whatever else was happening in the scene.
This movie reminded me of the old Star Trek series. Something about the sets and the general look of the movie. There is one other movie that really strikes me as being Trekish in feel, and that's Cyborg 2087, another movie from 1966. Perhaps it was the year in which these movies were made, around the same time Star Trek was made. If only Shatner had graced this movie with his presence. Then it would have been a classic!
I've never seen another Sheree North movie, but I did see her in an episode of Seinfeld as Kramer's mom Babs. I thought that was mildly interesting. What's more interesting is that Mike Road played Maddox. Mike Road worked on lots of cartoon voices in the 60s and 70s, and did the voice of Race Bannon in the old Jonny Quest cartoon. I thought his voice was familiar.
What the hell was up with this movie's soundtrack! Completely inappropriate loudness from an overly tense score designed to keep us excited because the movie could not? Loud bursts of brassy music don't make a movie enjoyable. Fire the soundtrack guy. While we're at it, fire the modelmaker too. That diving bell had to be only a few inches long, and it was obvious.
By the way, I lost a bet partway through the movie. I thought Ellis would die when he and Maddox went out to capture the creature. He survived. Oh well, two out of three assistants isn't bad.
If you like Jacques Cousteau, short shorts on men, or the prospect of harvesting every single sea creature for food, then I think you'll enjoy Destination Inner Space
June 16, 2004
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