Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 19th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1969
Director: Ishiro Honda
Writers: Shinichi Sekizawa, Ted Sherdeman
Cast: Cesar Romero, Akihiko Hirata, Mari Nakayama, Kin Ohmae, Masumi Okada, Patricia Medina, Linda Haynes, Joseph Cotten, Richard Jaeckal, Akira Takarada, Tetsu Nakamura
Approximate running time: 106 minutes (U.S. Version), 89 minutes (Japanese Version)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Both Versions)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 & Mono English / Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
DVD Release: Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Two scientists and a reporter on a deep sea expedition are rescued after an underwater volcanic eruption separated them from returning back to the ship that brought them out to sea. They are rescued by Captain Mackenzie the commander of an underwater submarine that is far more advance then any submarine they have ever seen before. When one of them needs special medical attention Captain Mackenzie takes them to Latitude Zero a secret underwater Utopian civilization. Along the way they are attacked by another sub that belongs to sinister Doctor Malic who for centuries has been trying to destroy Latitude Zero. After years of fighting Doctor Malic forces the people from Latitude Zero to take action against him when he kidnaps a scientist who can finally help him destroy Latitude Zero once and for all.
Latitude Zero’s director Ishirô Honda is most remembered by western audiences for his Godzilla films. Latitude Zero is a fantasy based tale from Ishirô Honda who creates a world that is inventive and impressive realized. The films special effects are some of the awe inspiring out of all the films that Eiji Tsuburaya worked with Ishirô Honda. Latitude Zero would mark the final collaboration between Eiji Tsuburaya and Ishirô Honda. The sets and costumes are product of their time with their late 1960’s imprint on them that makes them feel dated. Frequent Ishirô Honda collaborator Akira Ifukube composes an eclectic score filled with memorable motifs.
Latitude Zero was a Japanese/U.S. co-production that featured veteran performers from both countries. The two most mesmerizing performances in the film are Joseph Cotton as Captain Mackenzie and Cesar Romero as his nemesis Dr. Malic. Joseph Cotton in the 1960’s and 1970’s reinvented himself in overseas production like The Hellbenders, A Whisper in the Dark, Baron Blood and Lady Frankenstein. Joseph Cotton’s performance in Latitude Zero like the majority of his performances from this period of his career is larger than life portrayal that almost feels over the top. Cesar Romero is mostly known for his comedic roles like his portrayal of “The Joker” in Batman the movie (1966). Cesar Romero gets the best lines in Latitude Zero. Rounding out the English speaking cast are Patricia Medina (Mr. Arkadin), Linda Haynes (Rolling Thunder) and Richard Jaeckel (The Green Slime).
The Japanese cast features veteran Toho performers’ Akira Takarada and Akihiko Hirata who also are heard for the first time in English instead of being dubbed. Another standout performance is Hikaru Kuroki as Captain Kroiga the head of Doctor Malic’s military. The most memorable scene is when Doctor Malic plays god by making monster out of a bird, a lion and Captain Kroiga’s brain. Other deformities that Doctor Malic creates are primate looking bat creatures and oversized rates that prey of human flesh. The plot for Latitude Zero is best describe as a cross between Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues under the Sea” and L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz”.
Ultimately Latitude Zero is an unfairly maligned film whose reputation among Ishirô Honda fans and Sci-Fi enthusiasts has increased over the years.
Both versions of Latitude Zero include with this release are presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen that preserves their original aspect ratio. The transfers for both versions are free of any print damage, compression or artifacts. Overall they both look colorful, details look sharp and black levels remain strong throughout. Both versions included are also flagged for progressive play back.
The U.S. Version comes with two English audio options a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix and a Dolby Digital mono mix. The Japanese version comes with only one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in Japanese. All three audio mixes are free of any distortion or defects. They all sound clear and evenly balanced. Removable English subtitles have been included with the Japanese versions that are error free and easy to follow.
Extras for this release include Special Announcement Trailer, a photo gallery, twenty eight minutes of deleted scenes/footage and trailers for other films currently available on DVD from Media Blasters. The main extras for this release are twenty three minutes worth of cast & crew interviews. The interviews all are presented as one featurette and all the participants’ lay out in great detail the making of Latitude Zero. All the interviews are in Japanese and English subtitles have been provided. Media Blasters gives Latitude Zero fully loaded special edition release that is also affordably priced.