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CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA (director: Roger Corman; screenwriter: Charles B. Griffith; cinematographer: Jack Marquette; editor: Angela Scellars; music: Fred Katz; cast: Anthony Carbone (Renzo Capetto), Robert Towne (Sparks Moran/Agent XK150/Narrator), Betsy Jones-Moreland (Mary-Belle Monahan), Beach Dickerson (Pete Peterson Jr., Capeto’s chief henchman), Robert Bean (Happy Jack Monahan, Mary-Belle’s brother), Sonya Noemi (Mango), Edmundo Rivera Álvarez (General Tostada); Runtime: 63; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Roger Corman; Alpha Video; 1961)
“This is one rotten movie.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Roger Corman (“The Wild Angels”/”The Masque of the Red Death”/”Tower of London”) directs this weak remake of Naked Paradise. It’s a comedy/horror film intended as a satirical imitation of a Bogie adventure film. The gangster leader supposedly resembles Bogie. It was scripted by Charles B. Griffith, who had also written Corman’s cult comedies The Little Shop of Horrors and A Bucket of Blood. Corman filmed it in one week in Puerto Rico, remaining over when he finished early filming there. He shouldn’t have bothered, this is one rotten movie. The silly comedy is of the juvenile kind, the horror shtick is too lame to even comment on.

The story begins after the Cuban revolution. There’s a Philip Marlowe-style voiceover to follow the action. It has two exiled loyalist military officers and some of their Cuban countrymen hiring a group of American gangsters, led by Renzo (Anthony Carbone), to help them escape with a chest full of gold, across the sea to a safe haven. Renzo’s real intention is to kill all the Cubans. He does this by leading the unsuspecting Cubans on by pretending there’s a mythological monster rising out of the sea that is devouring them one at a time (when his henchmen will actually be knocking them off) and then steal the treasure. To Renzo’s surprise, there’s a real monster they have to deal with and this changes his plans. He now sinks his boat in shallow water and places the treasure on a nearby island he uses for a base. The monster, only briefly seen, is a wooden bug-eyed beast, that looks more like a prop than a prop does.

One of the gangsters is actually undercover agent XK150 or Agent Sparks Moran (Robert Towne), who is determined to sabotage the operation (he makes a radio out of hot dogs and pickles). For Towne, this is a warmup before his success as the screenwriter for Chinatown. As an actor, he stinks to high heaven. Mary-Belle Monahan (Betsy Jones-Moreland) is Renzo’s gun moll, who previously pushed hard drugs to school children; her brother Happy Jack Monahan (Robert Bean) developed a muscle spasm in his cheek from watching too many Bogie films and the tennis bum has since become a dice roller and a hired killer; and Pete Peterson Jr. (Beach Dickerson), who is Renzo’s top henchman and was discovered at Jones Beach, where he worked as a pickpocket. He has an innate ability to imitate animal sounds.

It ends with Agent Sparks Moran and his girlfriend Mango the only ones saved from the monster, who not only devoured all the passengers but also the treasure. The other casualties were the viewers devoured by the cheeseball factor.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”