Sunday, 17 November 2013

Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961)

In 1959, Roger Corman went to Puerto Rico to film two movies. At the end of the process, he discovered that he had quite a lot of unused footage. Corman, always with an eye on the bottom line, was not about to let this go to waste. He grabbed a script he'd already filmed, had writer Charles B. Griffith make some edits (changing the location so it fit the footage and locations they could use, making the script a spy/horror spoof instead of a horror film) and then spent five days filming enough extra material to scrape together a 70 minute movie. The result was Creature from the Haunted Sea, which would finally be released two years later after a few extra scenes were filmed back in the mainland US.

The re-used script that formed this film's base was that of Beast from Haunted Cave, so even the title was more or less recycled. Also recycled was the music, the score being used in no less than 7 Corman films (though in this case that's apparently the composer putting one over Corman, rather than Corman being cheap).

The film follows the inept efforts of CIA agent Sparks Moran, aka "XK150" to recover stolen Cuban treasury gold before a gangster can make off with it, and his equally inept efforts to woo the gangster's girlfriend. Said gangster has an improbably complicated plan for smuggling the gold off Cuba, involving pretending that a hideous monster is on the loose. This plan will be complicated not so much by XK150's efforts to thwart it, as by the fact that a very real monster is lurking in the area. Said monster is one of the most slapstick elements of the film, however: and really needs to be seen to be believed.

So how good is the movie that comes from all this re-used material? Well honestly, it's about as good as a movie can be, when its monster is made from a wetsuit covered with brillo pads and ping-pong balls. The humour is very broad and farcical, but it did get a laugh or two out of me. I was also amused by the football throwing scene - I wonder if Tommy Wiseau ever saw this film? It would explain a few things about The Room.

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