Written by: Carroll Jenkins on October 17th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1961
Director: Roger Corman
Writer: Charles B. Griffith
Cast: Betsy Jones-Moreland, Antony Carbone, Beach Dickerson, Edward Wain
DVD released: October 21st, 2008
Approximate running time: 63 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Legend Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.95
Synopsis: In the immediate aftermath of the Cuban Revolution, the dissidents steal the national treasury and attempt to smuggle it off the island to fund an assault against the new [Castro] regime. They enlist the help of an expatriated American gangster and his crew, and set out to sea. Murders ensue – is there a sea monster lurking about?
This is actually a black comedy with significant noir elements, including a dry voice-over narration. It has a Humphrey Bogart looking lead, a gangster’s moll with an acid tongue, and an inept government spy named XK150. The most odd character (at this point, anyway) is Peter Peterson, Jr. (Beach Dickerson) who does animal impressions every few minutes (elephants, gorillas, etc.). Presumably these nutzoid characters (and others that stumble into the movie later) are intended to lighten an essentially grim crime drama.
Charles Griffith’s script has many great lines, and Betsy Jones-Moreland as Mary-Belle Monahan seems to get the lion’s share (cue roar from Pete). The witty script and mostly fine delivery are the main attraction, since it certainly isn’t the monster. This is one of the absolutely worst monster outfits in the history of film. Where’s Paul Blaisdel when you need him?
This being essentially a satirical noir crime drama, the colorization just doesn’t make sense and destroys what ambiance the film manages to achieve. It certainly doesn’t make the monster any more effective (nothing could do that).
The B&W version is a progressive scan transfer with good definition and is probably the best this flick has ever looked. There are chapter stops, but the scene selections are only for the colorized version. There are no subtitles but closed captions are provided [you don't want to miss any of the wisecracks]. The film is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Clearly running a distant third behind the similar Corman / Griffith features Bucket of Blood and Little Shop of Horrors, this is still an entertaining film given a nice presentation by Legend films.