Friday, 9 January 2015


d. Spencer Gordon Bennett (1959)

For a long while The Atomic Submarine goes around in circles as we watch the bickering crew of the state of the art USS Sharkfish scour the Arctic Ocean looking for the cause of a series of maritime disasters. When their quarry is revealed as a flying saucer, however, things start to gather pace, culminating in a small group of sailors boarding the alien craft and establishing contact with its pilot. Most of the men end up dead, horribly burned by a heat ray or crushed between automatic doors, but 'Reef' Holloway (Arthur Franz) survives, establishing a psychic link with the invader, a hideous creature who resembles a clump of seaweed with tentacles and has one enormous, all seeing eye. This unprecedented close encounter of the third kind prompts the following exchange:

Alien: We meet face to face.
Holloway: That’s a face?
Alien: Point of view is everything.   
The alien snottily explains via telekinesis that his race want to colonise the Earth and need human specimens to experiment on, and Holloway's life has been spared so that he can be vivisected. Holloway has other ideas, of course.

Holloway: To navigate, won’t you have to see your way?  
Alien: Obviously.

(Holloway pulls out a Very pistol and shoots the alien, blowing out its eyeball)

Holloway: Could be rough!
The triumphant submariner then makes his escape as his blinded foe throws his fronds around in agony, viscous gunk glooping from its brand new hole. The previously rather smug alien has learned an important lesson about human beings: never under estimate their survival instinct, or their capacity to cause pain. It’s a short period of reflection, though, as the UFO is almost immediately destroyed by a ground to air missile: job done, Earth saved. For now.

Please note: this is not a proper submarine film, so do not expect any popping rivets, sweaty faces or corpses and oil being jettisoned to the surface to fool enemy battle ships. I'm still quite miffed about that, actually.

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