Thursday, April 30, 2015


Currently re-visiting Battle Beneath the Earth (1967), a film that seemed to be a perennial Sunday afternoon television matinee when I was growing-up. What a great opening few minutes - stock footage of beautiful vintage Las Vegas, a nut laying on the footpath with his ear to the ground telling bystanders "I can hear them crawling around down there!", and a title sequence featuring a cool, raucous jazz theme. The absurd paranoid plot - about rogue Chinese communists who plan to attack America by using machines to dig large tunnels underneath major cities and plant atomic bombs  - is the stuff of pure comic book pulp. The giant burrowing machines remind me of the mechanical dragon from Dr. No (1962) - early 007 was a clear influence here. A British production, the whole thing has a very low-budget, TV show look and aesthetic to it, but it's colourful and has lots of cool late-60's 'pop', and the film at times feels like it could have been made by Larry Buchanan or Ted V. Mikels. The Oriental make-up on the Western actors looks about as convincing as the Japanese make-over given to Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice (released the same year). Director Montogmery Tully made the crazed Amicus sci-fi flick The Terrornauts the same year.