Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 3rd, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, July 1st, 1966
Director: Hajime Sato
Writers: Kohichi Otsu, Masami Fukushima
Cast: Sonny Chiba, Peggy Neal, Erik Nielson
DVD Released: October 25th, , 2005
Approximate Running Time: 79 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital mono
DVD Release: Dark Sky Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.95
During a torpedo demonstration at a press conference a human like image crosses the screen after the explosions. Not believing the military excuse for what they had just seen a Japanese reporter Ken Abe (Sonny Chiba) and his American girlfriend Jennie (Peggy Neal) who also happens to be a reporter decide to start there own investigation. When the military refuses to believe them and what they saw they then return to the same location were they saw the monster with the intension of bringing how evidence back with them. This time things don’t go as planned as they are lured into the monsters lair and captured. When Ken and Jenny wake up after being subdued they are introduced to Dr. Rufus Moore who is in charge of this vast underwater city. They soon find out Dr. Moore’s sinister plan to make a army of slaves out of men who he as turned into cyborg’s. Will Ken and Jenny be able to stop this mad scientist before his unleashes his army upon the rest of the world or will they become another one of his cyborg’s?
This film was made at the height of the Kaiju Eiga genre craze in Japan and for the most part it tends to play like a monster by the numbers film that never tries to break any new ground. The water cyborg’s like many creatures created for Japanese cinema at the time are poorly designed and look like a man in a rubber suit. The main draw for many to this film would be actor Sonny Chiba who is not given enough to do and spends most of his screen time comforting his girlfriend Jenny. Despite his lack of screen time Chiba’s charisma is still intact as it is nearly impossible to take your eyes off him.
No matter how silly the situation may be Chiba takes everything in stride and never lets on that his is staring in a low grade B film. One of the films more entertaining moments is when Chiba’s character fights four water cyborg’s who surround him and his lady. This scene borders on comical as the men in plastic suits soundly beat up Chiba’s character just by failing their arms. While one might say this movie falls into the its so bad its good category I would tend to disagree since this movie is just to tedious and hokey to ever be anything more then a bad B film. I enjoyed just about every Sonny Chiba film that I have seen to date, but this one is just awful. May be one day I will be able to re-evaluate this film when it is properly released in Japanese with English subtitles.
Dark Sky films present Terror Beneath the Sea in an anamorphic widescreen that frames the image at about 1.85:1 and just judging by the credits and a few of the films close ups the image is cropped. At this time in Japan films were made two ways either 2.35:1 or 1.37:1 and it is quickly apparent looking at various compositions’ during the films that there is no doubt that Terror beneath the Sea was filmed in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Now with this misstep out of the way the image itself looks pretty damn good as the colors leap off the screen and details are strong through out. One other thing that I must mention is that this titled has not been set for progressive scan and it is interlaced. Depending on your DVD player and TV set up the effects of the interlacing will vary. Overall the image on my set up looked stable as I noticed no ghosting or blurring.
This release comes with only one audio option an English dubbed audio track that is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The dialog is easy enough to understand and there is some noticeable hiss/background noise through out. The music and effects at times try to overpower each other and the dialog. Overall the lack of a Japanese audio track is a disappointment since these types of films usually play better in Japanese then in English which tend to make them sound sillier then they really are. English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
Besides the feature film this DVD comes with absolutely nothing in the way of extras. This is hardly a surprise since virtually every Sonny Chiba film released on DVD to date has lacked any serious extras. Overall while I am happy that Dark Sky Films have released one of Sonny Chiba lesser known films the cropping of the image and lack of extras end up hurting what could have been a solid release.
For more information about Terror Beneath The Sea and other titles released by Dark Sky Films visit their website.