Saturday, September 1, 2007

TERROR BENEATH THE SEA

From Dark Sky Films comes the Japanese sci-fi adventure, TERROR BENEATH THE SEA (1966), starring Sonny Chiba (STREET FIGHTER, KILL BILL).

The young Chiba plays a newspaper reporter with a hot blonde American girlfriend (Peggy Neal, THE X FROM OUTER SPACE), who, while investigating sightings of strange amphibious fish men, is captured by a scientific megalomaniac bent on world domination. Chiba is as charismatic as always and makes a decent enough hero, even if he's not as much of a badass here as he would become in his later action roles.

This early film by cult director Hajime Sato (GOKE, BODYSNATCHER FROM HELL) is full of great miniature effects, bright pop art colors, and an army of underwater cyborgs that look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon's distant cousins. It's fast-paced, goofy fun, that plays like a Godzilla movie without the giant lizards.

Dark Sky's DVD unfortunately crops the original full-frame ratio to an artificial 1:85:1 ratio to allow for anamorphic enhancement. This leads to some tight framing, with chins occasionally chopped off. However, the quality of the source material is excellent, with virtually no damage, bright colors and a razor sharp image. Dark Sky has also provided a new, clear Dolby two-channel stereo mix. There are no extras on the disc.

The unnecessary cropping of the film is unfortunate, but doesn't really affect the entertainment value much. The real draw here is the outrageous comic book-styled plot and the Sixties special effects. Fans of Japanese sci-fi should love it.

BUY: Terror Beneath the Sea