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Not Rated
Copyright 1966 K. Fujita Associates Inc.
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 4 October 2009

The Characters:  

  • Ken - Sonny Chiba! His skin-tight watermelon swimming trunks scare me. I mean they really, really scare me.
  • Jenny - She has that sexy, half-asleep look all of the time.
  • Prof. Howard - Has a PhD in "looking surprised," and a master's in "not needing ears to wear eyeglasses."
  • Cmdr. Brown - Despite the times I had previously watched "Terror Beneath the Sea," I never knew this man's name. He is a main character, but I think that they say his name once in the whole movie. Regardless of that, God bless this man and his overacting!
  • Prof. Moore - His evil ocean base is 3000 feet under the sea, but he still insists on wearing sunglasses that make him look like Roy Orbison.
  • Dr. Hime - He is doing his part to fill the world with cyborg fishmen.
  • The Water Cyborgs - Super silver fishmen that Prof. Moore intends to use to take over the world, or something like that.
  • Prof. Moore's Henchmen - Recruited from the Tokyo School of Dental Hygienists.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

This film is bad movie gold, and anyone who has seen it is part of a secret club. The secret club greeting is "Wow! You hit the jackpot!" and the response is, "And I'm GOING IN!" Then both club members burst out in laughter. Why do they do this? Read on, little buckaroo.

There is something about this movie that makes it incredibly entertaining to watch. I think that the key is the characters' outlandish, and often wholly inappropriate, reactions to certain situations, amplified by extreme overacting. You have to understand, "Terror Beneath the Sea" features Western actors and actresses under the direction of a Japanese director, and the product of that awesome union was then dubbed into English. For a lover of bad cinema, the result is glorious. The cast constantly responds to events in ways that make me collapse with laughter.

If I don't get back on track here, I am going to start giggling, so let's press on. The Navy is testing a brand new homing torpedo, meaning that Jenny and Ken watch as Cmdr. Brown plays with his little submarine stickers on a Plexiglas plotting board. During the actual test, the civilians view the action on a television monitor. As the homing torpedo nears the drone target sub, Jenny screams in terror when everyone sees a hazy humanoid figure pass in front of the underwater camera. The test is successful (the drone sub goes boom), but Cmdr. Brown quickly leaves the briefing. All of the reporters are left to wonder what in the heck they saw swimming outside.

Jenny's propensity to scream, or otherwise react with complete and utter horror, is something that I love about this movie. Time and again, the young lady is exposed to stuff that causes her to freak out. She spends half of her time on the screen tossing her head back and screaming, covering her mouth in silent terror, or biting her knuckles as her eyes go wide with fright. I wish that more women reacted to the world like Jenny does, because when my wife emulates the poor girl I start laughing so hard that my eyes water.

Seriously, that woman is the Lord's gift to men who love overacting.

Smelling a government cover-up, Ken and Jenny don their SCUBA gear. What they encounter is beyond belief: fishmen! Jenny snaps a picture of the underwater abominations before trying to scream into her regulator. In her moment of abject terror, the frightened woman drops her camera; there is no going back for it either, not with underwater cyborgs coming after her. The lost camera is awfully inconvenient for the reporters when they get back to the shore. Commander Brown accuses Jenny of imagining the monsters while hyperventilating. Then the Naval Officer stomps off to discuss the strange events near the base - clawed footprints in the sand, that kind of stuff.

The reporters go back to look for the camera. They get captured by water cyborgs, and wake up inside one of those '60s evil mastermind holding cells that I like to refer to as "human tupperware." Dr. Moore is there when Ken and Jenny wake, and he is oh-so-happy to take them on a tour of his underwater facility. The water cyborgs are part of Dr. Moore's plan to change the world; the fishmen are mindless servants that obey their leader's every command. If Dr. Moore turns the control dial to "Work," they work. If he spins it to "Stop," they stop. The evil mastermind believes that he has created the perfect citizen of the future.

What Dr. Moore fails to realize is that right now quite a few people operate at a level equal to the water cyborgs. Just ask any advertising executive. Put a picture of a fat, greasy, fast-food hamburger on somebody's television and tell them that they are hungry. They want to eat. Specifically, they want to eat that hamburger. It doesn't matter that the hamburger on the television is a work of fantasy. Have you noticed what I am griping about? If you hasten to a McDonald's drive-thru to order a hamburger like you saw on the commercial, what you actually receive bears only a passing resemblance to the gleaming Big Mac which lured you off the couch.

The only difference between a water cyborg and a mindless American consumer is that one of them can breathe under the water. I'm dead certain that human stupidity is what makes cetaceans so depressed that they beach themselves. Dolphins recognize that we are imbeciles. It is OK so long as we stay on the land or play in the surf. The dolphins see us building sand castles and frolicking with beach balls. We look smart, like we know how to have fun and avoid parking tickets for forgetting to add coins to the meter. Once people actually get out in the water is when the trouble starts. The dolphins get a good look at us, and they realize that a bunch of morons are running the planet. Soon as that sinks in, the dolphin, whale, or porpoise says, "Screw this, I want out." and heads for the nearest beach.


As the tour goes on, Dr. Moore explains everything about the fishmen to the reporters. They even get to see the metamorphosis in person. Watching a hapless victim being converted into a water cyborg makes Jenny scream several times. Of course, I think that encountering a gallon of milk one day past the "sell by" date would make Jenny scream. Later on, after being locked up in the tupperware prison again, Ken manages to overpower one of Moore's henchmen. The reporters creep around the base for a short while before being recaptured. Dr. Moore did not even look for them. He just waited in one room until Jenny and Ken arrived.

Eh, it's a small base.

Dr. Howard is abducted to join the reporters, and then Ken and Jenny are given an ultimatum: either join the evil syndicate or become water cyborgs! Both of the reporters refuse. Next time Jenny wakes up, she is starting to turn into a fish. The preliminary treatment makes Ken and Jenny look like they are molting, which is hilarious. Jenny keeps holding her hand up in front of her eyes, then reacting with a mixture of disgusted revulsion and outright terror.

I could watch Jenny freak out for hours. Give that woman a hand mirror and just pad out the rest of the film that way.

While all of that is going on in Dr. Moore's secret underwater base, Commander Brown and another officer are using a submarine to search for the missing reporters. They encounter a remarkable underwater hazard: hundreds of silver barrels labeled "Highly Dangerous Atomic Waste" on the ocean floor. You know, that sort of clear and concise content description is awfully helpful. I wish that everything was labeled like that.

Not that such marking would prevent some sufficiently dense diver from prying one open with his dive knife, then mutating into a squid monster after the radiation gets him. God, we have some stupid monkeys in our family.

The brave Commander does find Dr. Moore's secret base. The submarine and the evildoers start shooting at each other with underwater rockets, marine missiles, and torpedoes. Some of these even shoot out into the sky! A small plane carrying Jenny's editor is caught in the middle of the aquatic battle between the submarine and underwater base, which is an awfully odd place for a plane. As the battle rages on, a huge missile fired by the submarine severely damages Dr. Moore's base. The control circuit for the cyborgs is knocked out of commission, causing the fishmen to go berserk! Now the base is filled with henchmen and water cyborgs shooting it out with pistols and spear guns.

Dr. Moore tries to maintain control of his imploding empire in the control room, but every few minutes a batch of water cyborgs burst in and attack. Pure chaos reins, featuring lots of groovy action music and shooting. Even better, Dr. Moore keeps yelling things like, "Kill them! Shoot them!" over and over as his henchmen battle the homicidal fishmen. Can the reporters escape before the underwater base explodes? Will Jenny's molting make her even more beautiful than before? Does anyone else notice that the water cyborgs' suits are ripping? Is it humanly possible for Cmdr. Brown to make me laugh any harder?


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Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Torpedo guidance systems are made from elephant neurons.
  • Bigfoot and the Creature from the Black Lagoon are cousins.
  • Enlisting in the Navy is like having a menstrual period that lasts for four years.
  • Ether is distilled from fish oil.
  • The worst part about becoming a fish is the toe jam.
  • The Naval Academy in Annapolis requires that all midshipmen successfully pass Drama 101.
  • Fish are naturally expert at tap dancing.
  • When in doubt, pull the red dongle.
  • If you want to make a girl happy, just hand her a telephone.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • Opening Credits - This has got to be the most Teutonic film ever made in Japan.
  • 6 mins - Ultraman!
  • 14 mins - Whatever is watching her, it is staring pretty hard at her tanks.
  • 23 mins - Don't you just hate it when you are trying to sleep and some jerk focuses an overhead projector at your face?
  • 37 mins - An army of aquatic Conservatives. Terrifying.
  • 45 mins - Now you know why I think they should have made a "Green Lantern" film starring Sonny Chiba.
  • 51 mins - "Curse your evil ways, and the particularly comfortable chair you strapped me into!"
  • 67 mins - She feels ugly and bloated when she molts.
  • 73 mins - How did Prof. Howard get behind him?
  • 77 mins - "And we all saw you with your clothes off. You have an ugly belly button."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note terrorbsea1.wav Prof. Howard: "Some very peculiar things have been going on around here lately."
Cmdr. Brown: "What?"
Prof. Howard: "I'm not sure, but I think the Navy should be informed about them."
Cmdr. Brown: "What are you driving at?"
Green Music Note terrorbsea2.wav Jenny: "But I saw him, Commander, I saw him!"
Editor: "Take it easy, Jenny."
Jenny: "He was covered with scales all over. He chased me! It was horrible, just horrible."
Cmdr. Brown: "Mr. Ayba, did you see this thing too?"
Ken: "No, I didn't, but Jenny did."
Cmdr. Brown: "Weren't you under the water longer than you should have been?"
Jenny: "And what exactly do you mean by that? You mean it's just the wild, hysterical imagination of a woman, don't you?"
Green Music Note terrorbsea3.wav Cmdr. Brown: "I'm going down anyway!"
Other Officer: "Over my dead body! We're turning back."
Cmdr. Brown: "Don't be so pig-headed!"
Other Officer: "Don't forget: I'm in command here!"
Cmdr. Brown: "Come on. You have enough evidence. Those two reporters have found something, and something mighty peculiar, and I don't believe those two are dead. I'm convinced they are down there somewhere, alive."
Other Officer: "Then you'd better convince the Admiral. I just take orders."
Green Music Note terrorbsea4.wav Dr. Hime: "What has happened?"
Dr. Moore: "The cyborgs have got out of control!"
Henchman: "Dr. Moore, the missile outlets have blown, and there are other breaks all over!"
Dr. Moore: "Get your damage controls working. Watch out for the cyborgs! Lock them out!"
(A water cyborg jumps into the room.)
Dr. Moore: "Hurry, kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Shoot! Shoot! Stop him! Stop him! Stop him! Stop him! Kill him! Kill hiiiimmmmm!"
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 Clipterrorbsea1.mpg - 6.2m
God bless this movie.

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