Destination Inner Space
Title: Destination Inner Space
Year Of Release: 1966
Running Time: 82 minutes
DVD Released By: Cheezy Flicks
Directed By: Francis D. Lyon
Writing Credits: Arthur C. Pierce
Starring: Scott Brady, Sheree North, Gary Merrill, Wende Wagner
1. Terror From The Depths of The Sea
2. Scientists in an underwater exploration struggle to survive an invasion of monsters from another planet!
Terror of the Deep
Review Date: 1.15.16
Shadow's Title: "The Fish-thing From Another World"
Buy This Film From Amazon
Commander Wayne – A naval officer who comes to the Institute of Marine Science’s underwater installation known as Sealab in order to investigate a huge mysterious object that keeps appearing and disappearing on sonar. Is it a whale? An enemy submarine? Oprah out for an afternoon swim? Or something else?
Dr. LaSatier – He is the head honcho at the Sealab. Overall he seems like a level-headed guy, but in true b-movie scientist fashion, he is often more interested in discovering something new than worrying about possible dangers or security concerns. Eventually he agrees that the alien visitor must be stopped by any means necessary.
Dr. Rene Peron – She’s the marine biologist at the Sealab and right off the bat there seems to be a spark between her and Commander Wayne. At first their exchanges seem almost adversarial, but soon enough it becomes apparent that the two have the hots for one another. Nothing like a threat from another world to ramp up the sexual tension.
Hugh Maddox – The lead diver at the Sealab. A former navy man, he and Commander Wayne have a muddled past. Something happened years before that set the two men against one another and neither seems overly thrilled at the prospect of working with the other once again. Whatever transpired in the past, Maddox seems to blame Wayne for it and takes every opportunity to remind him of it.
Sandra Welles – She is the underwater photographer at the Sealab. She works closely with Maddox, though it seems their partnership is just a professional one as she doesn’t seem to like him much…at first. Later when shit gets real she starts to fall for him. She doesn’t do much except offer up some eye candy with her tight and revealing outfits. Not that I’m complainng about it.
Dr. James – This guy is the medical officer aboard the Sealab. The funding for his department must be terrible as his infirmary is one of the barest and most under-equipped that I have ever seen. I suppose really sick or injured folks are sent straight to the surface for transport to a real hospital, but when everyone becomes trapped on the Sealab, the inadequacies of the infirmary become all too apparent.
Dr. Wilson - The local sonar expert aboard the Sealab. When the mysterious object appears on the their sonar screens, Wilson here can make the determination that it is not a whale…or any other known form of marine life. Later when it is revealed to be a vessel of alien orgin and a strange cylinder is brought back from it, he has the bad luck to be near it when it goes into ultrasonic overload.
Tex – Poor Tex. Not only doesn’t he get a real first or last name or even a job description, but he doesn't even really appear that well on screen. This is about as good a look at him as you're gonna get. He has the bad luck to be the very first person to encounter the alien visitor after it emerges from its cylinder. First contact in this case involves violent contact with the alien’s huge claws and then one last contact with the deck.
Mike – Much like Tex, this poor bastard doesn’t get a last name or a job description, but we do learn that he is very good with a spear gun. This qualifies him to accompany commander Wayne on a trip outside to get the transport bell working. Too bad they run into the fishman from outer space first. Then poor Mike gets clawed up by the beast and infected by its funky alien germs.
Ellis – Unlike Mike and Tex, this guy got a last name, but no first name. Unless Ellis was his first name. Either way, unlike the other two flunkies, despite his own up close and personal encounter with the alien fishman thing, he doesn’t come away leaking blood all over the deck, making a colossal mess.
|Ho Lee – In the grand tradition of films from an earlier era, the lone minority character here is not a man of learning or accomplishment. Nope, he is regulated to support staff. The guy could hold numerous doctorates in his homeland, but on the Sealab he is the cook, who worries about how he is going to find fish to cook for dinner! Then again, maybe he was an idiot in his homeland as well.||The Alien – The bipedal, amphibious alien that comes to earth for a visit. Despite many characters speculating on why it has come to earth, it is never spelled out for certain why it chose to drop by. Of course, given how violent it was from the very beginning and I feel safe to say that it wasn’t here to open up a fast food franchise.|
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A speed boat skips across the water at high speed with two men aboard. As it heads out to open sea, the credits unfold and some heroic music plays. I don’t know how far out they plan on going, but the small craft does not look like it carries enough fuel to get too far from shore. Eventually it arrives at what looks like a small platform of some kind. The kind of thing that is only a temporary installation and looks more like a barge than something designed to be permanent. A sign on this platform reads Institute of Marine Science.
The speed boat docks and delivers a Commander Wayne of the United States Navy to the installation. Wayne meets with the skipper who notes that “there is something odd going on down there,” and I don’t think he means the state of his underwear. No, the Skipper is referring to another installation known as The Sealab, located below them on the ocean floor. The personal stationed below have discovered something odd, which required a naval officer come investigate. Preparations are made to lower Wayne down via a diving bell.
The Skipper asks Wayne if he has ever been to the Sealab before and when the commander answer with a no, he says that it can get pretty hairy. Wayne then asks if the skipper has ever served aboard a submarine as it cruises under an icecap. When then skipper answers with a no, Wayne says that that get a little hairy, too. I’ll say, especially when you’re in such tight confines and the cook serves chili for dinner!
Wayne follows a crewman to the service bell, which will lower him to the Sealab. After he leaves, the boatswain mentions to the skipper that he sure is glad that he pulled topside duty on this project. HAHAHAHA. That statement is going to come back and bite him in the ass.
Wayne now rides the service bell down to the Sealab in a stunning display of crappy miniatures. It’s funny because when we see the miniature bell, it is descending along a “cable” at something of an angle, yet when we see an interior shot, Wayne is standing straight and shows no signs of being tossed around. The bell gradually descends to the Sealab, which is shaped like a cross and painted a bright yellow. Going by what the producers want us to think, the place is quite large. Going by the way the cheap model looks, it appears to be about two or three feet in length.
By the way, going by the dimensions of the bell as well as the Sealab itself, and it is easy to see that it is located several hundred feet below the surface, yet somehow sunlight not only penetrates this deep, but has the entire area lit up like it was high noon. Not only that, but Commander Wayne did not undergo any type of slow pressurization before being lowered down. Just push him into the bell and lower away. So either the material that the bell and Sealab is constructed of is stronger than it looks, of everyone is in for one nasty surprise when he arrives and the airlock is opened. Of course the third option is that the film’s producers just didn’t know or just didn’t give a shit. I’m thinking it is a case of the latter.
Commander Wayne arrives safely and is met by Dr. James, the company medical officer and Dr. Rene Peron, a marine biologist. One look at her and I can imagine what kind of biology Wayne suddenly has on his mind. Not that he shows any indication of such things. He’s much too professional for that. But I can guess what he is thinking…because I’m thinking it. Peron may not be ready to grace the cover of a glamour magazine, but she is hot enough in my book. In fact, she looks a lot – right down to similar hairstyles – like my next door neighbor…who just happens to be a single mom. A very hot single mom who likes to sun herself in the backyard during summer in nothing but a bikini. Not that I look at her from my upstairs window…much. Um…where was I again? Oh, right, the movie!
Before being taken to meet the man in charge, Wayne hands his things off to Ho Lee, the cook. I suppose Ho Lee is also the resident bellboy when they have guests at the Sealab. I wonder if they make him clean the place and do the dry cleaning and laundry as well? Does he have to entertain the guests, too? Does he spin bowls on top of sticks or whip his knives around in a display of frenzied cutlery that would make your local Benihana chef proud? I guess he has to do anything all the white folks want nothing to do with.
So Wayne is brought to the command center where he meets Dr. LaSatier, the man in charge of this whole underwater lab. His arrival is quite timely as LaSatier points to a sonar screen and mentions that “the object has returned” and is moving closer! Aha! So this is why Wayne has been sent to this civilian installation. These guys have detected some unknown object in their area and the Navy wants to make sure it isn’t some enemy nation spying on them. LaSatier reveals that they have dispatched their own minisub to intercept the object.
Apparently the object showed up the day before for fifteen minutes, the previous night for an hour and now it has been moving around for close to two hours. Its movements are seemingly random and show no patterns. No motor sounds are detected, so Wayne thinks they can rule out the theory that it is a submarine. LaSatier agrees and hopes Wayne might be familiar with more “unconventional” subs. The commander shakes his head and says that he wishes they (the navy) had a sub like that.
Peron thinks it may be a whale and Wayne wonders if that may be the case, but LaSatier is certain that it is not an animal, as marine animals have been his life’s work. To illustrate, he takes Wayne to another lab and introduces him to the local sonar expert, Dr. Wilson. They show him how all aquatic life known to man can easily be heard with sonar, but this new mystery object is emitting sounds in the ultrasonic range beyond what the human ear can detect.
As they discuss all this, the object ceases transmission and moves away. Peron notes that the minisub was unable to get close enough to get a picture. LaSatier says that Maddox will be disappointed. When Wayne inquires into whom Maddox is, LaSatier says that he is the head diver, who was out with their photographer on the minisub.
Speaking of Maddox, we know get several shots of the minisub as it cruises around the sea floor. It’s one of those small, two seater contraptions that still require its occupants to wear their own scuba gear. In the front seat, steering the craft is Hugh Maddox and in the rear seat is the aforementioned photographer, one Sandra Welles. As they cruise around, Maddox points to an object in the distance, which looks like nothing more than a hubcap that fell off some passing ferry above. I suppose that it is the mysterious object everyone is so concerned about.
Maddox radios the Sealab and reports on the object, describing it as “huge” and says that it is moving off. He intends to follow it, but LaSatier orders him to return to the lab, as their air tanks are half empty and they have reached the point of no return if they press onward. Maddox says that they will comply. After this exchange on the radio, Commander Wayne reveals that he knows Hugh Maddox and his tone of voice indicates that whatever their past, it is not a good one.
More underwater shots of the minisub, the cheap Sealab model and some fish now follow. Maddox brings the sub to a halt and he and Welles disembark, swimming over to a cage and ascending into the Sealab’s diving bay. When they got out of the minisub, there was some other guy in scuba gear who took possession of it. Was he the valet attendant or something? Or was he just going to service the sub, fuel it up and have it ready for the next time it is needed? Of course it is the latter, but I half expected the guy to hand them a valet ticket when they got out.
The two climb up into the Sealab and it is at this point that I realized that photographer Sandra Welles is wearing some really, really tight diving shorts (as well as a hideous checkered top) and that her legs are quite toned and shapely. I thought I was watching a movie about fish monsters from outer space…seeing all these attractive women sure is an added bonus!
Anyway, before I went on my sexist sidebar, Maddox and Welles are removing their scuba gear. Welles says they should have brought extra tanks like she had wanted. We learn that in two more weeks, this job will be over and they will be on their way to Miami. At this point, I don’t know whether their partnership is just a professional one or if it extends into their personal life, but her tone of voice when talking to him makes it sound like he has a better chance of getting a mermaid in the sack than her. Why do the really hot ones always have to be so….haughty?
Dr. LaSatier comes in and asks what they discovered during their little jaunt. Welles says that she only got a couple of long distance shots of the mystery object. She heads off to develop them. LaSatier lets Maddox know that the Navy sent out Commander Wayne, which doesn’t seem to please him.
Elsewhere, Peron is alone with Wayne in some lab with lots of fish tanks and she is going on and on about the ocean and its life forms and how much food the sea could potentially produce and all that sort of thing. For his part, Wayne looks to be studying a microscope quite intently, probably hoping that she’ll shut up. He says that after so many years on a submarine, he realized there were other things to study…like women, especially if they are anything like Peron. She laughs and suggests that maybe he try a different approach, like complimenting her mind or offering to be platonic friends. He thinks that maybe she’s had some bad experience with men, but she reveals that she is just very familiar with the male of the human species, having grown up with five older brothers who taught her all the tricks. She claims to have heard it all. Well, she’s got me beat, but just barely. I grew up with four older sisters and I’ve heard it all, too. Worse, I’ve seen it all, and during certain times of the month, there were things that could not be unseen.
Wayne is now paged over the PA system, calling him to the lab where the photos of the mystery object can now be seen. Before leaving, he tells Peron that he grew up with a few sisters and knows for a fact that brothers don’t always tell their sibling everything, and that he may have a few surprises for her. He then tells her to shove that under her microscope and study it. The tone of voice he uses is almost adversarial, but after he leaves, we see both him and her smiling. Ugh. You just know where this is going.
On his way to the lab, he runs into Ho Lee, who says that since Wayne is an important guest, he will fix him something special for dinner. He suggests pork chops or a steak, but Wayne says to make it fish and then walks off. Once he goes, a perplexed Ho Lee wonders aloud on where he is going to procure fish. Right then, a guy named Mike comes through the door with clear bags containing live fish. Ho Lee tries to commandeer them for dinner, but Mike says they are specimens for the lab.
Over in the lab Wayne, LaSatier, Welles and Dr. Wilson are examining the photos of the mystery object. Wilson notes that it looks like no marine animal that he has ever seen. Neither does it look like any known sub design. Wayne suggests calling in more Naval personnel and having LaSatier terminate his operation until it can be determined what the object is and what it is doing in these parts. Naturally, LaSatier thinks that may be a hasty decision.
A new voice pops in and says that “Maybe Commander Wayne is used to making hasty decisions.” Maddox walks in, but Wayne doesn’t fall for his obvious baiting. Wayne still thinks that the whole matter is best suited for military supervision, but LaSatier reminds him of their civilian status and that if the plug is going to be pulled, that decision lies with him and not Wayne. This gets Maddox to make another smart ass comment to the commander, but before anything else can be said, a flunky pokes his head through the door to announce that the mystery object has returned and is heading their way.
Everyone but Wilson rushes into the control room and watches the sonar screen, which reveals the object to be two miles away at a depth of sixty feet and moving quickly in their direction. In fact, it is headed directly at their location.
A quick shot shows us the mystery object and it doesn’t look like a hubcap anymore. No, now it looks like a fat hubcap with a fin like tail on it.
Wilson enters and announces that the object is broadcasting again, only at a much higher frequency than before. The decision is made to sound the emergency and seal all compartments. The alert is sounded and everyone is ordered to their emergency stations. We see everyone scrambling to put on clothes, secure items and close doors. Even Ho Lee makes sure the door to the galley is closed. We can’t have a bunch of pesky scientists and submariners wanting something to eat in the midst of an emergency!
The mystery object now closes in and passes right over the Sealab, which causes everything to shake. It is determined that while their air tubes are intact, they have lost contact with the surface. The mystery craft moves off and Welles theorizes that it may be heading for a deep trench in the vicinity. Wayne thinks the craft has been hiding in deep trenches this entire time and only appearing on occasion. The craft comes to a rest on the seabed about two thousand yards away, right on the edge of the trench. The signal it was broadcasting has stopped as well.
With the emergency seemingly over, LaSatier gives the order for everyone to stand down from emergency stations and return to normal duty. We see Ho Lee smile and walk into his kitchen. LaSatier says they need to get outside and see what happened to their communication lines, so he orders Maddox to investigate and to take someone named Tex with him.
LaSatier also suggests that given the circumstances, someone should oversee the control room at all times. Wayne volunteers to take the first watch. After LaSatier leaves, Welles asks the commander what happened between him and Maddox. He is reluctant to talk about. She suggests that perhaps he is ashamed to discuss it and then walks away in a huff.
The action – if that is what you want to call it – now moves to the mysterious craft parked 1.13 miles away. Inside we see a large circular chamber with a round hole in the floor, allowing access to the ocean depths. Directly above this hole is a flashing red light hanging from the ceiling. Ringing the chamber are numerous triangle-shaped doors which appear to be no more than two or three feet in height. One of these doors slides open and a mechanical arm pushes a large chunk of triangle-shaped ice into the chamber. We can see that encased within the ice is a strange cylindrical object that is gray in color.
Back at the Sealab, we see Commander Wayne now decked out in a diving outfit and dictating a message to be sent to his superiors that outlines his intent to investigate the mystery craft. When he then asks LaSatier if any of the crew has volunteered to accompany him on his little trip, the Doctor says that they all did. After all, they are all scientists eager to explore the unknown. Alas, LaSatier is sending Maddox with the commander, as he is the most experienced. Wayne doesn’t look too happy for an instant, but he doesn’t say anything further.
In the diving bay, Maddox is already suited up and ready to go. Wayne arrives and begins donning his air tanks. Now alone with Wayne for the first time since he arrived, Maddox reminds him of what he said the last time they saw one another and what would happen if they were to meet again. Wayne tells him to forget it, but Maddox becomes incensed, saying they he will never “forget that day as long as I live.” We now learn that when they both served on a submarine together, there was some type of accident that trapped a bunch of sailors – young kids, basically – in a flooding compartment with Maddox. Wayne refused to open the door for them, something Maddox says he will never forget. Wayne reminds him that he managed to escape, a fact that he won’t ever forget.
Before things can deteriorate, Welles arrives and begins suiting up. Wayne tells her to stay behind, but she reminds him that she takes her orders from Dr. LaSatier. Speaking of the doctor, he now arrives and tells Maddox that whatever happened between him and Wayne in the past, it needs to remain there until this operation is over.
So Wayne, Maddox and Welles enter the water. The two men climb in the minisub while Welles uses a handheld propulsion device to keep up with them. Numerous shots of them, the sea and assorted fish now follow. It’s like watching a Jacques Cousteau documentary, only without the near indecipherable French accented voiceovers.
They near the mysterious craft and leave their propulsion behind, swimming the rest of the way. More seemingly endless shots of the trio swimming follow. They eventually reach the craft and locate the entrance to the chamber we saw earlier. They climb up into the craft and begin looking around, opting to keep their gear on in case they need to make a quick getaway.
Maddox notes that is near freezing inside. Wayne says that the place looks to be of extraterrestrial design. He theorizes that the craft is a remote controlled craft sent to study the earth’s oceans. The others don’t seem to argue against this theory. Welles walks over…well, with those flippers on it was more like she flops over to where the gray cylindrical object shown earlier is on the floor, the ice that encased it now melted away. They gather around it and study it. Wayne figures it was expended from the nearby triangular door. To prove his theory he walks over to another door, lifts it and finds a similar object, still encased in ice. Welles thinks it might be a container for specimens while Maddox wonders if it is a spent fuel container. They get ready to leave and when Maddox gathers up the strange object, Wayne suggests that it be left behind. Maddox refuses to do so, again reminding Wayne that he is not in command.
Later, back at the Sealab, Wayne, LaSatier, Peron and Wilson are examining the object. Wilson thinks the thing is an instrument package of some sort. While the scientists are eager to test the thing more, Wayne reminds them that they have no idea of what it truly is and while he has been given the authority to assume command over the entire operation, he is reluctant to do so. Still, he doesn’t want anyone tampering with the alien object until it can be studied under controlled conditions. His speech made, he leaves.
Peron then says to LaSatier and Wilson that Wayne is probably right. See? She’s defending him already! Don’t tell me that those two are not headed for a rendezvous in the sack. She then takes a closer look at the object and says that it looks bigger. Wilson measures it and sure as shit, it has grown by a few inches in just an hour (insert viagara joke here). Additionally, the signal it is putting out has increased by 10,000 cycles. Wilson thinks that the heat may be making it grow.
LaSatier tells them to watch it closely and then leaves. Peron wonders if an x-ray would penetrate the object’s exterior. Wilson thinks it worth a try, so they begin to wheel over some contraption in the corner but before they can do so, the alien object begins emitting ultrasonic waves that shatter some nearby glass. It has also grown in size again. Worried that a container of acid might shatter next, Wilson sends Peron to fetch LaSatier while he tries to remove the acid container from the room. The ultrasonic sound increases in intensity and he winds up dropping the acid (whoops) and clamping his hands over his ears in pain, all the while screaming like a man who just got the first credit card bill after the Christmas holiday season. He staggers around and we see the alien object roll off the table and into the floor. Vapor from the spilled acid begins to fill the room. Wilson manages to exit the chamber and collapse on the floor in the corridor outside.
Wayne and LaSatier arrive, the former closing the door to the lab before the vapors can waft any further. LaSatier and some other guy drag Wilson off to the infirmary. Maddox and Welles arrive, but Wayne quickly sends them to go engage the ventilators in order to clear the lab. The commander and Tex then don gas masks and armed with a fire extinguisher, enter the lab.
the vapor from the acid makes it difficult to see. Wayne can be heard
using the extinguisher, though since there was no fire earlier, I’m
not sure what he is using it on. Does Co2 counteract acid vapors in
some way? I dunno, I’m no chemist. Tex grabs an extinguisher from
a wall mount and as the two walk around the lab, we see the alien object,
only now it is obviously broken open and appearing to have been a storage
device for something.
The alien starts tearing up the lab. Apparently it tears a hole in the wall or breaks a window, because soon after an alert sounds denoting that the lab is flooding. Outside, everyone converges on the lab door. Wayne says everyone needs to get out of there. LaSatier thinks it is because of the flooding compartment, but Wayne explains that some sort of amphibious animal emerged from that alien object and is now loose in the lab. Unfortunately, Tex is still in there as well (and if he wasn’t dead from the ass beating he took from the alien, then the flooding compartment will surely do him in). This is all it takes for Maddox to start accusing Wayne of once again leaving someone behind to die. Maddox goes to open the door, so Wayne punches him. Maddox returns the favor.
Before a full on fight can erupt, there is a loud BOOM sound and everyone looks at the ceiling. An exterior shot shows the Sealab, still lit up in full daylight. Wayne says that they had better call for help before it is too late.
We now turn our attention to the surface, back to the floating ship/barge/platform thing. Only now it is night. A scant few seconds ago, the Sealab and surrounding area was enjoying lots of filtered sunshine, but up top it’s pitch black! In their control room, the boatswain (the same one who was glad to have pulled surface duty) reports to the skipper that there is something wrong with the lines to the Sealab. He tries to contact them, but there is no response.
Outside in the dark waters, the alien creature has surfaced and is taking stock of the topside installation.
Back inside, the Skipper tells his flunky to use the hydrophonic transmitter. This establishes contact with the Sealab where Wayne instructs them to relay a message to the admiralty. As he is dictating his message, there is a crash and scream from outside. The alien is tossing crewman around like rag dolls. The Skipper runs out on deck to see what the commotion is all about. He doesn’t get too far before he runs into the alien, which promptly gives him a fatal smackdown.
This scene is funny because the guy in the alien suit would normally be wearing big flippers on his feet, but in order to facilitate his running around on deck, the actor is not wearing them in this shot. The alien costume just ends at the ankles and you can see the actor’s bare feet! HAHAHAHAHAHA!
After opening up a can of whoopass on the Skipper, the alien now walks into the control area and sneaks up on the boatswain who is still trying to write down Wayne’s message. The poor guy doesn’t see the alien until the last second and by then it is too late. A pair of huge, razored claws grabs him and his last sounds are a gurgled scream as he gets the squish treatment. So much for having the easy assignment!
Below in the Sealab, it is soon obvious that everyone up top is dead. The inevitable conversation about how dangerous the creature is now erupts between Wayne and LaSatier. The military man advises extreme caution and thinks the alien is dangerous. The scientist thinks it may just be frightened and needs to be reason with. While this exchange is occurring, Peron looks out the nearby viewport and screams. The alien is swimming around outside, only now the crappy rear-screen projection makes him look to be about twenty feet tall rather than about seven. Security bars are lowered over the window to prevent the beast from breaking the glass. It swims away.
A new problem now arises. The air pumps from the surface have stopped working (because the monster sabotaged them, plus everyone topside is dead) and the air supply they have now will only last about twelve hours. Medical Doctor James now appears and announces that Dr. Wilson has a severe cerebral hemorrhage and needs to get to a hospital ASAP. I guess he is SOL.
A man of action, Wayne now comes up with an idea. He’s going to suit up and swim outside and see if he can get the diving bell working. He and Peron head to the diving bay. In the adjacent chamber he asks a guy named Mike for a spear gun. Peron doesn’t think Wayne should go alone. Mike says that he is very good with a spear gun, so Wayne agrees to let him come along. About now Maddox and Welles arrive on the scene.
Wayne and Mike enter the diving bay, but they have barely taken two steps into the room when the alien comes bursting up from the open hatch in the floor that allows access to the water. Wayne pushes Mike back through the door and manages to get through himself before the large alien can grab either one. They try to push the door closed, but the creature is pushing hard in order to get inside. Eventually, they get it closed, but not before the alien reaches through and claws up Mike on the shoulder. Only now does Maddox rush over to help get the door closed. Mike is quickly ushered off to the infirmary.
Outside we see the alien swimming around and I have to give kudos to the design team for a really cool monster design. Yes, it is cheap by modern standards and yes, it is obvious by its bulging back that there is a man in full scuba gear inside that thing, but I still think it looks cool. The creature twists a piece of metal around the gate attached to the outer cage, which effectively leaves everyone inside without a means of egress.
Inside things are looking grim. They cannot close up any more compartments to conserve air and there is no way they will last before the supply ship arrives at noon the next day. Wayne suggests closing off the biology lab, but LaSatier bristles at the idea of all those lab specimens dying without air. Still, he complies because things look so shitty. Wayne then says that they can close off the infirmary and have Dr. James bring the injured duo of Mike and Dr. Wilson into the control room. LaSatier testily informs him that Dr. Wilson no longer requires any air. I guess that is his way of saying that Wilson is dead.
Wayne now heads over to the infirmary where Peron is looking after Mike and Dr. James is peering through a microscope at something. If this is the infirmary then no wonder Wilson is dead! I’ve seen high school science labs that were better equipped than this place! There are no beds, just a pair of cots with Mike on one of them. What would they do with more than two sick people? Would the sick folks have to take turns laying on the cots? The desk that James is sitting at is cheap as hell and the medical equipment in the room consists of a few test tubes, the microscope in front of James and a few loose odds and ends. Do they even have any Tylenol in this place? Not the kind of place that instills a lot of hope for the sick.
Mike is not doing well. His fever is up and it seems the alien scratches have also imparted some disease into his system. Wayne wonders if that is what brought the alien to earth. James adds that maybe it was fleeing a contagion that ravaged its own civilization. James has no idea if the disease is contagious, but he has prepared a serum that may help, which Peron promptly uses to inoculate the commander. Wayne suggests inoculating the rest of the crew, but not telling them it is for a potential alien disease. While leaving, Wayne spies a spear gun on some lockers and seems to get an idea. You can almost see the light bulb appear over his head.
Wayne makes his way to the galley, where everyone else seems to be gathered. He asks Maddox how many spear guns they have and is told about half a dozen. He then says that they are going to set a trap for the alien and needs help. Maddox says that they are the ones in the trap…just like rats on a sinking ship. Another allusion to their past, only this time Wayne says that he has had about enough of Maddox’s crap and calls the other man out on his self-delusions.
Now comes the mother of all confrontations. Wayne lays into Maddox and we learn what really happened on that submarine years ago. Yes, Wayne locked Maddox and five others in a flooding compartment and refused to open the door and endanger the rest of the sub, but he also knew that there was an escape chamber in that compartment which the men could use. The problem is, Maddox got to it first and closed the door behind him, sealing off the others who begged and pleaded to be let in. Wayne doesn’t fault the man for being scared, as every man has his breaking point, but he wants Maddox to quit lying to himself and admit that it was his own cowardice that led to those deaths. Maddox tries to deny it all, but eventually comes clean and admits to it all being true. As all this is taking place, quite the crowd has gathered to watch it unfold.
Maddox thinks of himself as a coward, but Wayne says that no one is calling him that. He then pats him on the shoulder and exhorts him to help out. Everyone files out except for Welles. She approaches Maddox and admits that until a moment ago there wasn’t much about him that she really liked, but now she thinks that she could fall in love with him.
WTF? I just don’t get it. Yes, before Maddox was something of an asshole, especially to Commander Wayne. But after admitting how his own cowardice got others killed, how he lied about it for years and blamed someone else for those deaths…she now somehow finds him suddenly attractive? Is the woman crazy or something? Or does she just have really, really, really, really bad taste in men? She convinces Maddox to get off his ass and go help Commander Wayne. A shot of a clock on the wall reveals it to be fifteen minutes past eight at night.
The next shot shows the clock again and it is now two hours later. Wayne and the others have rigged a booby trap for the alien in the room adjacent to the dive bay. Wires have been affixed to the door leading to the dive bay (known as the Sea Chamber on a map we see of the installation). These wires are also connected to a series of spear guns welded in place around the room and aimed at the door. The idea is clear: the alien opens the door, enters, trips the wires and swoosh! Instant fish-kabob.
What’s really funny here is how everyone just mills around the room with all these trip wires strung all over the place. They act like it’s nothing big, and causally walk by them or stand very close to them, but one wrong move and SWOOSH – they’d be shishkebabobs.
Once everything is set, Wayne has everyone clear the room. He stays behind and peers through the window set in the doorway that leads to the dive bay er…sea chamber, whatever. The alien is nowhere in sight. He opens the door and then bangs on it with a crowbar. Outside, swimming around leisurely is the alien. It hears the banging and swiftly turns in the direction of the Sealab. It has to break the gate it sealed earlier in order to get back inside. Wayne backs away from the door and waits…and waits…and waits…and waits. The alien has failed to show up.
So Wayne makes his way over to the door again, ducks under the trigger wires and enters the dive bay. Long about now he sees the bubbles rising up from the water and knows that old scaly himself is about to appear. He turns, slides under the trip wires and takes up position again on the far side of the adjacent room. The alien comes barreling through the doorway straight into the wires. SWOOSH! SWISH! SPLAT. It gets impaled by more than one and lets out a great big holler. It then turns and heads back into the dive bay…er..Sea Chamber and re-enters the water and swims away.
Wayne intends on going after it and finishing it off, so suits up and enters the water, armed only with a light and a spear gun. Above, Maddox and a guy named Ellis decide to suit up and help Wayne.
Outside, Commander Wayne is trying to locate the alien. Soon enough Maddox and Ellis join in on the hunt. Lots of shots of all them swimming follow. Finally, either Maddox or Ellis spies the alien and manages to hit it with a shot from a spear gun. Everyone now converges on the creature and an underwater fight breaks out that is so lame that it makes the zombie vs shark encounter in Lucio Foci’s Zombie look like it was choreographed by a Hong Kong martial artist. It should be noted that the water is bright and well-lit from above. I thought it was after ten at night! The three humans seem to get the upper hand on the alien. We fade out and…
..fade in on the three men wrestling an unconscious alien on the floor of the sea chamber…er…dive bay…er…WHATEVER. With the beast subdued, Dr. LaSatier is almost giddy in excitement, wanting to get it to the Marine Institute as soon as possible. Wayne instructs the others to keep the creature sedated while he and Maddox swim for the surface in order to get the oxygen pumps working again. Once the pair is gone, LaSatier instructs Dr. James to only administer one shot of sedative to the creature, as he doesn’t want it to die.
Above, Wayne and Maddox arrive at the topside barge. Of course they find everyone there quite dead. They remove their scuba gear and split up, Maddox to get the pump started and Wayne to check the status of the radio. It turns out the pumps are in working order, but the radio…along with the poor boatswain that operated it, has been put out of commission permanently. Also, the winch and hoisting crane have been damaged, which means they cannot operate the transport bell.
Wayne wonders if there are any explosives on board and Maddox says that there should be some dynamite for use when coral needs to be cleared. Wayne is thinking about all those other capsules – and no doubt the creatures within them - on the alien ship and knows they need to eliminate that threat before the supply ship arrives the next day. Off they go to locate the explosives. Soon enough the two return to the Sealab with the dynamite.
Over at the alien ship another frozen capsule is pushed out from its alcove to thaw and no doubt eventually release an additional alien. Great, there goes the neighborhood.
In the Sealab’s mess hall, Wayne and Maddox are affixing an automatic timer to the dynamite detonator and using flashlight batteries as a power source. Dr. LaSatier argues against destroying the alien craft, but Wayne has seen enough aggressive behavior on the part of the extraterrestrial fishman to know that it isn’t going to get any friendlier.
Moving to the dive bay…er…sea chamber, Wayne order Ellis to wrap the unconscious alien’s feet in chains and then advises everyone – especially Dr. Peron, to stay well away from the creature. As he and Maddox begin to suit up, Welles appears, already decked out in her scuba gear…and yes, that includes that hideous checkered top. Maddox does not want her to come along. She is putting out every sign of wanting to expand their relationship, but he feels that after his admission of cowardice in front of her, they can never have anything together. After this mess is over, he plans on leaving and starting over some place new. Apparently without her.
Okay, this man is an idiot. You’ve got this smokin’ hot woman who is practically throwing herself at you and you push her away? I do not think there are words in any language to describe that monumental level of idiocy. Despite this, he still manages to steal a kiss from her before he and Wayne depart. Also, before Wayne dives into the water, he shares one of those looks with Peron. You know, the look that says I know we seem to argue a lot but it’s really just a way to disguise our mutual attraction, so when I get back maybe we can see what develops between the two of us. After Wayne and Maddox leave in the minisub, Welles enters the dive bay and dons the rest of her gear, then follows the men using that handheld propulsion thing we saw earlier.
Wait one damn minute! You mean to tell me that the alien swam all the way to the surface, killed everyone on the topside barge, wrecked the winch for the transport bell, destroyed the radio and sabotaged the air lines in an effort to kill everyone on the Sealab…and did not destroy the minisub? The minisub these idiots leave parked on the ocean floor about ten feet away from the access hatch? The same minisub it has had to have passed by about three or four times now? It has made every effort to isolate and destroy the humans in the Sealab installation, but leaves an obvious and readily accessible means of escape? I realize the minisub wasn’t going to take anyone to shore, but it may have prevented what is about to happen.
A quick shot of the alien ship shows that the ice around the recently released cylinder is gradually beginning to melt, while at the Sealab, the unconscious alien is beginning to stir after Peron walks away from where it is stretched out on the floor. She returns with some water and a sponge and begins to wet down the creature’s body, no doubt to keep it moist and help its recovery. About now the beast roars to life, breaks every chain that was used to bind it and advances on Peron, who is standing between it and the door to the dive bay. She runs out of the way and the alien ignores her, more interested in getting out of this crazy underwater house full of hairless primates. As it tries to get the door open, Dr. LaSatier arrives and tries to hit it with a crowbar, but the creature just slaps him away before exiting the room and then the Sealab. Oh snap! Wayne and Maddox (and Welles) have no idea the alien is once again on the loose and most likely headed their way!
Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.
Peron runs to the control room and tries to get Ellis to contact Wayne and warn him of the alien’s escape, but the hydrophones are not working any longer.
Out in the sea, Welles catches up to Wayne and Maddox and the trio continue on to the alien ship. They board again with the explosives they brought, still unaware that the alien is steadily swimming their way. They plant the dynamite and connect the timer, which gives them three minutes to reach minimum safe distance. Of course, just as they are ready to bail, the alien comes roaring up through the hatchway and most likely causes at least one of them to soil their wetsuits (I’m betting on Welles, as she lets out a shriek when the alien appears).
Maddox distracts the alien and yells for Wayne to get Welles out of there. She of course is worried about him and doesn’t want to leave him behind, but Wayne gets her and himself through the hatch and into the sea. Maddox fires his spear gun at the alien, which does nothing. The alien picks up and then tosses aside the crate of dynamite. I’m not sure if doing that broke the timer or what. Maddox then lights a flare and waves it at the alien, but it just slaps it out of his hand. Where does it land? Yes, right in the big pile of scattered dynamite sticks. The creature then begins to throttle Maddox, who collapses…most likely dead. The alien then turns to see the burning flare amongst the dynamite. It takes a couple steps toward it and then KABOOM!
Outside Wayne and Welles are tossed around as the entire alien ship explodes. Yes, that is right, the entire alien ship explodes! A vessel that can not only withstand the crushing pressures of the deep, the long voyage from another star system as well as the fiery mess that is atmospheric reentry…now explodes from a few sticks of dynamite detonating in one large chamber. I can only assume that the dynamite set off a chain reaction of explosions that caused the ship to blow. We see Wayne and Welles swimming off into the distance, back to the Sealab. I sure hope they plan on taking the minisub, cuz that sure is a long way to swim on your own!
Next up we see that some time has passed. Apparently everything has been put back in working order as we see Commander Wayne once again descending to the Sealab from the surface via the transport bell. He is decked out in full uniform, so I guess he has just returned from reporting to his superiors.
He arrives at the Sealab, where we see James and Peron packing up in preparation to leave. We learn that everyone has been evacuated except them and Dr. LaSatier, who is upset at having to leave. They all head to the control room where Wayne informs LaSatier that the president of the United States has invited him to the White House for a personal report on the situation. LaSatier isn’t sure what to tell the President. Wayne points out that they now know that alien life exists and that it is their duty to understand it and be ready to encounter it again. The most important research project in history needs to begin and he feels LaSatier should head it up. That is what the Doctor needs to tell the President according to Wayne. LaSatier agrees and exits along with James, leaving Wayne and Peron alone.
seen this coming since damn near the beginning, so hold on to your lunches.
She approaches him and says that he is quite the guy. Echoing their
conversation earlier in her lab, he says that she should try a different
approach. He offers up a couple suggestions, but she has one of her
own: the direct approach. She throws herself into his arms and they
begin snogging. Fade out.
First up is Commander Wayne. Somewhere I read a description that likened him to John Wayne, and the description fits. From the very beginning, Wayne emits an aura of authority and even when he is constantly being reminded that he is not in charge, he never comes across as weak. He is the most pragmatic of the bunch and the first to truly realize the magnitude of the danger he and the others find themselves in. He has a troubled history with Hugh Maddox and puts up with a lot of verbal abuse and questioning looks from him and others, but in the end, he is able to put all that behind him and work together with Maddox to find a solution to their problems. While not the trigger happy soldier many military men are made out to be in such films, he isn’t about to gloss over any potential dangers, either. Overall, he’s the kind of guy I’d like to have in charge if I was in such a situation.
Then there is Hugh Maddox. He comes across as something of an ass. From the beginning we learn that he and Wayne have a history and whatever happened in the past has left Maddox an angry, bitter man who blames the commander for what went wrong. Eventually we learn the details and how the truth of the matter was twisted by Maddox to help cover his own inadequacies. Eventually Wayne helps him through it (because he needs Maddox’s help and can’t afford for the other man to shut himself away) and the two work together to defeat their alien visitor. This makes for a nice journey for Maddox, from asswipe to coward to hero. It should also be noted that actor Mike Road has a very distinctive voice and old timers like me (and even older timers) will recognize him from his many roles in animation, most notably Roger T. “Race” Bannon from the original Johnny Quest as well as numerous others.
Dr. LaSatier is the film’s chief scientist and as such he gets to espouse the idea that the alien should not be fought, but studied. His idealism in his search for new discoveries is the type that could lead to disaster and Commander Wayne is there to offset this, reminding the doctor just how bad their situation is. However, this conflict isn’t really played up very much and only comes to the fore in a couple of conversations that are neither heated nor confrontational. He doesn’t contribute much to the overall situation other than make observations, letting Commander Wayne take charge and determine each new course of action. Thus he doesn’t come off as either antagonistic - much like the Dr. Carrington character did in The Thing From Another World – or as a valuable asset. He was just kind of …there.
Now we come to the ladies of the movie. Dr. Rene Peron is solely there as a romantic interest for Commander Wayne. She really doesn’t add much to the story except scream a couple times, banter with Wayne in their ever-increasing flirtation and stand around and look attractive. As the older of the two women, she is given the more matronly role and thus her costume is just standard attire. Added to that is photographer Sandra Welles. She adds a few things to the overall story, taking part in a few key scenes, but I think her biggest role is eye candy. She gets to wear the tight, revealing clothes. Who cares if her acting isn’t exactly stellar? It should be noted that actress Wende Wagner did all her own underwater scenes as prior to this movie she had worked as an underwater stunt double on Sea Hunt and The Aquanauts.
Aside from that, most everyone else in the cast isn’t around long enough or on screen enough to really matter. Roy Barcroft, famous for numerous bad guy roles in westerns and old serials, plays the topside skipper. A young James Hong plays the cook, Ho Lee. He seems to be the only one from the cast that is still alive as of this writing, having recently appeared on Marvel’s Agents of Shield as well as Star Wars Rebels. Of course he may be most famous to many movie fans as the immortal Lo Pan in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China.
Another way is use the worst looking miniatures ever put on film. Okay, let me take that back. The miniatures themselves don’t look bad. In fact, they all look quite convincing. It’s the method in which they are used that is terrible. I have no idea how big the miniatures for the Sealab or the alien ship actually were, but filming them against the real ocean floor was a mistake. They both end up being dwarfed by the nearby plants, which if scale is to be believed, would have to be seaweed the size of a freakin’ redwood tree! Thus, it’s hard to look at these props and suspend belief as they come off looking fake due to being off scale with the natural surroundings.
Alas, another way to save money is to just “borrow” music from a previous movie. In this case that movie would be The Angry Red Planet. Themes from that earlier Ib Melchior/ Sid Pink film are used multiple times in this movie. For those of us with no life who can instantly determine these things when watching the film, it might seem a grave offense, but I must say that the otherworldly feel that the music in question tries to convey works quite well in the underwater environment. After all, the ocean depths can be just as spooky and mysterious as another world (and in most cases, more so because of real life aquatic horrors like sharks, Megalodons, Godzilla, Cthulhu and Michael Phelps).
So where did the money for the FX budget go? The monster suit, no doubt…which just proves how little money the FX budget really had. Now the monster suit isn’t all bad. I think it looks much more “fishy” than other fish monster suits seen in B-movies. The design was certainly on the right track and mostly succeeds. There are just a few minor problems. The face is too static, which of course is a common trait in older monster suits. Also, requiring extended underwater shots with the monster meant that the actor inside could not just hold his breath like Ricou Browning did when in the Gillman suit in any of the Creature from the Black Lagoon movies. No, here the suit has been enlarged so that an air tank can be worn by the actor inside. Naturally, that means the creature has an obvious hump on its back where the tank is located and it also seems to emit bubbles from all parts of its body as it moves around. While silly when you think about it, these things are easily overlooked for us monster lovers and we can enjoy the scenes with the creature, disbelief successfully suspended.
Having been a young child in the 1970’s, I was subjected to all sorts of 60’s TV shows in rerun syndication. This movie has the look and feel of an old Irwin Allen show, a la Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea or Lost in Space or The Time Tunnel or even Land of the Giants. There is no (for the time) graphic violence or implied adult situations. Everything comes off as very kid friendly. To really confirm this, when the film rolls its end credits, it plainly shows the copyright belong to something called the Television Enterprises Corporation. Despite this lower budget pedigree, the film seems to have had a North American theatrical release, so someone thought it was more than just the sum of its parts…and you know what? It is. In spite of that low budget and TV filming style, the movie has a tremendous sense of fun.
Aliens - In a nice turn of events, rather than the usual oxygen breathing, land dwelling aliens we usually see invading earth, this one is an amphibious creature more at home in the water than on dry land.
Monsters – The alien visitor is obviously intelligent as proven by its actions, yet it comports itself much more in the standard b-movie monster style of interacting with humans: rip them to shreds and beat them to a pulp on sight.
Ocean Hijinks – Not much of this. Early in the film we get some shots of boats and a few surface level scenes and then later we get a few after the alien is on the loose and decides all humans in the area must die.
Romance – It isn’t long after arrival before Commander Wayne and Doctor Peron are trading barbs back and forth. Later they are trading significant glances at one another. By film’s end, they are swapping spit. One assumes other bodily fluids followed soon after.
Science – Hahahaha! I almost cringe at the thought of this one, but there were a few credible scientific terms and ideas thrown around. Not much, though.
Sea Terrors – Usually this icon is reserved for terrestrial sea terrors, but since the amphibious alien spent a lot of time swimming around and attacking humans from the water, I decided to include this one as well.
Skin – This one is almost unwarranted. There is not an overabundance of skin on display here, but Welles spends enough time in tight, revealing shorts that really highlight her tanned, toned legs that I had to include it.
Spaceships – For a film that spends most of its time underwater, you’d think we’d see no spaceships. Wrong. We do see one alien craft that looks like it was designed to travel just as easily through water as outer space.
|Undersea Hijinks – The vast majority of the film takes place underwater, with plenty of scenes of people swimming around in scuba gear. There’s even an epic fight between three men and the alien on the ocean floor.||Violence – Several people meet their ends at the hands…er…the flippers…no, more like webbed claws…of the alien. While there isn’t a lot of blood to see, there is enough to show that those ends were not pretty.|
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 0
Cups of coffee and/or tea consumed: 4
Fist fights: 1
Fish fights: 1
Windows seen on exterior of Sealab: 22
Windows seen on interior sets: 6
Times Maddox baits Wayne: 4
Times Wayne is reminded that he is not in charge: 3
Screams from female characters: 5
Screams from male characters: 14
Percentage of movie shot underwater: 20.69%
Min – You shouldn’t have said that! Now you’re
Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time music recycled from The Angry Red Planet is heard, take a drink. You'll be plastered by the film's halfway point.
for larger image
Wayne and Peron begin their flirtation.
“Well, after a tour of duty aboard a submarine for a few years,
a man remembers that there are a lot more interesting things to study
Shadow’s Comment: Yeah, she's breathing.
Wayne and LaSatier discuss their new visitor.
“Maybe it’s not as dangerous as you think. Maybe it’s
more afraid of us than we appear to be of it. Any animal will defend
itself, Commander, especially a primitive one.
Shadow's Comment: That really isn't saying much given what I've seen.
Welles changes the way she views Maddox.
Welles: “You know something, Hugh? Until a minute ago I couldn’t find much in you I really liked. Now I think I…I could fall in love with you.”
must have seen his bank account balance.
Film & Me
Sometime in the mid 1970’s I came into possession of a magazine that contained photographs from this movie, highlighting the monster. I can no longer recall the name of that publication, where I got it, exactly when I got it or what ever happened to it. I just remember many of the photos from it. Not long after that I came into possession of another magazine and if memory serves me, it was produced by the same team that did the Cracked humor and satire magazine (which of course is no longer in print, but rebranded as a website). This magazine contained page after page of black and white photos from older monster and horror films, with funny captions under them or placed within them inside word balloons. One such photo was from Destination Inner Space. That photo and caption stuck in my memory all these years and I have recreated it above to the best of my ability (Don’t let him in, his surprise birthday party isn’t ready yet). Still, at this point I had not seen the movie itself.
long after all that, my family was in the midst of a move over the summer.
We had a problem, though. We had sold the old house and needed to move
out, but our new house wasn’t completed yet, so we had no place
to live. My dad’s cousin let us stay in a small room attached
to her basement, but it was a really small place for three people to
live (mom, dad and myself as the devil’s brood – my four
sisters – had long since left home). Since it was summer and I
was out of school, my mother and I would go to my aunt’s house
in Marin County and spend up to a week there, while dad stayed in San
Francisco and worked. It was while staying at my aunt’s house
that Destination Inner Space aired on TV one day and I sat
down to watch it armed with a mountain of snacks. Since I was young,
movies like this left an impression on me, so even though I never saw
it again, I always remembered it. A few years back I bought a DVD-R
copy of the film, but the quality was so bad I could not even get through
the first few minutes without the disc crapping out on me. Recently
I got the Cheesy Flicks disc, and while it is nothing special, it was
good enough for me to relive and enjoy this movie once again. After
all, I’m easy to please when it comes to such things.
Shadow's rating: Six Tombstones