Latitude Zero (1969 Japan)

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Latitude Zero (1969 Japan)

Post  BoG on Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:55 am



Anyone else here familiar with this Japanese sci-fi film from Toho? The title refers to a scientific citadel deep beneath the Pacific Ocean. There were other films with a similar premise made around the same time, like Captain Nemo and the Underwater City and also City Beneath the Sea from Irwin Allen.
In the premise, scientists have gathered there to work for the good of the world but the evil Malic (Cesar Romero) wants to destroy the citadel as part of his plan to rule the world. The film has also been described as an animated comic book; Linda Haynes wears some sexy, flimsy costumes.
Holy Cow! or, rather, Holy Mackerel! Whatta movie!

The DVD is a double-disc edition which has the English version and the original Japanese one. I watched the English version first. The Japanese actors spoke their lines phonetically for this one, rare for the time. The picture is a nice color widescreen version.
In the plot, three guys in a diving bell (Akira Takarada, Richard Jaeckel, Masumi Okada) are rescued from deep sea doom by Capt. Mackenzie (Cotten, as a version of Capt. Nemo) and his submarine Alpha. They then make their way to the paradise-under-the-sea community of the title (located at Latitude 0,Longitude 180, btw). This has distinct parallels to Captain Nemo and the Underwater City, which came out around the same time.

But, there are only those superficial similarities; this takes place during the then-present times of the late sixties and the underwater settlement, which is huge, is still secret to the general populace. It has its own culture and ethos, which is best summed up by Cotten as this: "We are the realists. That's why we're not political here. Politics are only needed by people incapable of running their own lives." Whew Shocked Picture a perfectly balanced, pleasant, advanced society where everyone is at least above average in intelligence & also pacifistic. Oh, and most of the females are easy on the eye...
All this is presented in a highly entertaining fashion, almost like a pilot for a TV show about an ideal futuristic society; I kind of wish there were further adventures. But, it's not an ideal film, starting with Cotten's first appearance - his tailoring was meant to suggest that futuristic look but comes across as, shall we say, highly effeminate. The 2nd half of the film switches to more outlandish, comic book-styled storytelling.

The backstory here is this: it revolves around the good genius (Mackenzie) and the bad genius (Malic, played by Romero). Both actors were elderly by this time but let's just say their characters are still a lot older than they look; their conflict stretches back for many decades. The action in the 2nd half boils down to Mackenzie and his team invading Malic's island for a rescue operation. The monsters are comical, the acting is a joke, straight out of the old Republic serials... but it's still filled with many wild ideas, loads of super science and eye-catching sets. I doubt this would bore many people, though Malic's brain surgery technique was a little too much for me on the goofy side.
Some more impressions: the sub of the bad genius is called the Black Shark, but it's the one that recalls The Nautilus of the famous 1954 film, to me. This is a tokusatsu film, meaning a super-hero FX style of filmmaking. It was large budget for its kind and its time. It tags on a strange Wizard of Oz-type of ending and there are also mentions of Alice in Wonderland.
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Latitude Zero photos

Post  BoG on Sat Jul 10, 2010 1:17 am

LATITUDE ZERO PHOTO GALLERY


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