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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Latitude Zero (aka Ido Zero Daisakusen) (1969)

Enjoyably cheesy, but with a certain charm, Japanese sci-fi film plays out like a live action Saturday afternoon cartoon. Directed by Ishiro Honda who brought us such creature features as GOJIRA, RODAN and MOTHRA, the film is the resulting handiwork of both Japanese and American interests. The screenplay is by Ted Sherdeman, produced by Don Sharpe but directed by Honda, a score by the great Akira Ifukube and cinematography by Taichi Kankura with a cast consisting of both American and Japanese actors. When an underwater volcano erupts, the inhabitants of a bathysphere (Richard Jaeckel, Akira Takarada, Masumi Okada) are rescued by the residents of a massive underwater city whose leader is Joseph Cotten. The film’s villains are a hammy bug eyed Cesar Romero (who transfers human brains into animals) and an evil Patricia Medina as his paramour. The outrageous costume design by Linda Glazman and Kiichi Ichida goes overboard with the gold lame. Linda Haynes as a nurse has a uniform consisting of a backless gold lame dress with white leather go-go boots and poor Joseph Cotten looks embarrassed in a silk blouse open to his navel with gold chains and a gold lame belt and a green silk scarf around his neck! The film’s “monsters” are clearly people in animal costumes and look more cuddly than scary. The Japanese version is some 15 minutes shorter than the American language cut.

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