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Copyright 1961 Roger Corman Productions
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 27 December 2008

The Characters:  

  • Renzo Capetto - He has more aliases than could fit in a phone book, and he dresses like a bag of popcorn. Presumed et.
  • Mary-Belle Monahan - She has almost as many aka names as her beau, and she dresses like an oyster bed (from the shoulders up). Also presumed et.
  • Sparks Moran - Inept government agent.
  • Pete Peterson, Jr. - He gave himself brain damage by trying to imitate the call of a Whooping Crane. Now he has trouble communicating by any means other than vocal mimicry of various animals. Another et character.
  • Jack Monahan - This boy cannot get a romantic break to save his life. So, he dies (et, of course).
  • General Tostada & Colonel Grande - Cuban military officers (pre-revolution). As you may have guessed, the monster eats a Tostada el Grande.
  • General Tostada's Soldiers - Some get et by the monster, others are dispatched by a combination of hand rake lacerations and plunger suffocation inflicted by Renzo and his conspirators.
  • The Creature from the Haunted Sea - Hahahahahaha!

Buy It!

The Plot: 

NOTE: This review is based on the 2008 DVD release by Legend Films. It is a beautiful print of the film, but it only includes the original theatrical version of "Creature from the Haunted Sea." The ridiculous song that many viewers remember was added years later when additional footage was shot to create a longer version of the movie.

First things first: If anyone has found this movie's budget, would they please build a time machine and return the money to 1961. The producer is looking for it.

Castro's successful campaign to stamp out the rampant capitalist pig population infesting his beloved Cuba is the setting for this film. The revolution forces the ousted General Tostada and Renzo Capetto to flee from the liberated island. The General is in possession of a chest filled with gold that was improperly squirreled away by the overthrown government, while Capetto owns a boat. Surprisingly, the only hiccup in getting away from Cuba is outrunning a group of revolutionaries who are stuffed into a VW Beetle. Once Castro's troops are left behind, the expatriates quickly board the boat.

You know, this movie is a lot like "Casablanca." The story has a war backdrop, a square-jawed man who owns (well, owned) a club, a woman, um...and one of the characters mentions Humphrey Bogart. See, a dead ringer for "Casablanca."

What this movie does have, that "Casablanca" lacks, is a liberal application of forced comedy. Between Sparks playing secret agent, Pete screaming like a pterodactyl, and the General's military antics, I am hard pressed to accurately describe my feelings without resorting to nonsensical sounds. "Aaaarrrgggghhh! Frrricckkenfracken! Gaaaaahhh!" - That sort of thing.

Okay, before I get too sidetracked complaining about the humor element, let's go over what is really going on. Renzo is not saving the Batista loyalists for political reasons. He only allowed the Cubans aboard his boat so that he could steal the gold. The hardhearted crook comes up with a cunning plan to whittle down the Cubans' numbers without arousing their suspicion. A fictitious monster will kill the soldiers! A can of slimy goop is mixed up and tracked across the deck with a handy plunger, while a sharpened hand rake is used to do the dirty work. Unfortunately, the same night that Renzo and Jack murder one of the sleeping Cubans, something unexpected happens: a real monster attacks and kills another man on the boat.

The crooks are perplexed by the double murder, but shrug it off that they must have killed two by accident. They continue with their plan to deprive the deposed General of his stolen gold. Part two of the plan is intentionally ramming the reef near Puerto Rico. Grabbing the gold before life preservers, everybody abandons ship in a small launch, but Renzo facilitates the little craft capsizing before it reaches the shore of a small island. The gold-filled chest sinks to the sandy bottom. Renzo's plan is to recover the chest at some later date. Sadly, he did not realize that General Tostada and the Cubans were all frogmen.

Oh, and the monster gobbles up another human snack as the castaways swim toward the beach. The Cubans believe in the watery denizen; it's only the American pig-dogs who think that they know better than to believe in sea monsters.

In between dives to look for the sunken chest, Pete and Jack dabble in romance. Pete, brain damaged as he is, hooks up with an older woman who looks like Warwick Davis in a muumuu. Jack pairs with the Warwick Davis creature's daughter, who actually looks pretty good. Unfortunately, the four lovers go swimming and the monster eats Jack's new girlfriend. The suddenly single young man still thinks that the Creature from the Haunted Sea is a fake, so he blames Capetto for the girl's death. A rift begins to form between the conspirators.

Not to get sidetracked, but the obvious difference between the older woman and her daughter made me think of something. Why is it that most Japanese women look like they are teenagers until they reach the age of thirty-five? Then, once they are thirty-five, they turn into Yoda. What the heck is up with that?

Moving on.

Eventually, the monster decides that enough is enough, that this horrible attempt at comedy has to stop, and it massacres almost all of the remaining characters. "Creature from the Haunted Sea" is mercifully short, but I was still ready for it to end about halfway through (which is only thirty minutes). The one reason that people want to see this movie is the astonishingly bad monster. Imagine a bulky latex suit wrapped with green scrub pads. Add a pair of tennis ball eyes, some fake fangs, and black rubber gloves. Finally, because the creature is seen swimming underwater, the aquatic menace wears rubber diving flippers. In the b-movie world, there are very few creations that hold a candle to the Creature from the Haunted Sea.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Rogaine is made from the distilled sweat of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
  • Benito Mussolini was a Republican.
  • Excessive vocal mimicry causes brain cell loss.
  • Lollipops are a natural memory enhancer.
  • The Spanish language uses the same word for "reef" and "jetty."
  • The SCUBA divers' version of "if a tree falls in the forest" does not make a lot of sense.
  • Being headbutted by somebody who is pretending to be a rhinoceros is painful.
  • When any sort of aquatic predator is playing the inverse of bobbing for apples, you do not want to be an apple.
  • A deadly but relatively unknown danger inherent in shallow water diving is the dreaded SCUBA wedgie.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • Opening Credits - I might be splitting hairs here, but that looks nothing like the monster.
  • 6 mins - That must be a German VW. Only German VWs were offered with a pintle mount option.
  • 15 mins - Hey buddy, soda can pop tops offer better reception than paperclips.
  • 17 mins - So this is what they mean by "lost in translation."
  • 32 mins - Personally, I'd be worried that whatever is making those sounds will want to mate with you.
  • 33 mins - Egad, I was right!
  • 41 mins - Mmmm, Mango...
  • 53 mins - With three men attempting to perform amplexus on him?
  • 59 mins - The creature cannot possibly be hungry enough to eat everybody.

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note chauntedsea1.wav Sparks: "The big cheese was Renzo Capetto, alias Capo Rosetto, alias Ratto Pazetti, alias Zeppo Staccato, alias Shirley Lamour. At fifteen he served his first stretch for rolling a drunk in the lobby of the Waldolf Astoria, New Years Eve 1934. In 1940 he was involved in an unsuccessful attempt to nominate Benito Mussolini for the Republican ticket. During the war he was rejected by the Navy, the Marines, and the SS."
Green Music Note chauntedsea2.wav Renzo: "Well, the way I figure it these Cubans aren't very much at diving. Jack, Pete, and I are all pretty good spear fishermen. We'll go down, find the strongbox, and hide it in a hole in the reef. After that we'll tell the Cubans that it's no use, and give up. It'll be safe there for months, even years, until we're ready to come back and get it."
Green Music Note chauntedsea3.wav Pete: "Can she do imitations?"
Jack: "Well I don't know, and I don't care 'cause I love her."
Pete: "Gosh. You going to marry her?"
Jack: "Yeah, well why not?"
Pete: "Why not? If you marry Mango, and I marry Porcina, I'll be your father!"
Green Music Note chauntedsea4.wav Renzo: "You think I did it?"
Mary: "Well, what else can I think? You made that monster up out of thin air. Now don't try to tell me it's real. I'm not that stupid."
Pete: "Well, I am. I always believed in it."
Renzo: "But it's got to be real. Either that, or the Cubans are trying to kill us off."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipchauntedsea1.mpg - 5.4m
Jack encounters the Creature from the Haunted Sea. The speargun is ineffective, and the monster gives the young man a hug. Jack dies instantly.

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