The Incredible Petrified World, 1959. 2/10

I was waiting for this thing to end from the moment it started. The critic who noticed that the documentary-style beginning scene was the best part is absolutely correct. The premise actually isn’t bad, and the caverns seem a decently weird setting for a sci-fi movie.

When your cunningly-crafted diving bell looks like an oversized porta-potty, it’s not a good sign. There’s meaningless tension between the two women, but no animosity between the rival diving bell designers. Most of the movie consists of the four aquanauts trudging through the underground cavern. They’re about as concerned for their future as though they were just on a boring camping trip.

After meeting the caveman, they realize that they’re doomed; but at least there’s some cool sea shells. The logic gaps are cavernous: as others have pointed out, they shouldn’t have survived to make it to the cave anyway. Meanwhile, the second diving bell is honed with all the craftsmanship and metallurgical skill of a guy repairing a lawn mower.

The ending itself wasn’t terrible. Pretty good landslides. But what about the volcano? Wouldn’t the eruption be a big deal on the surface too? I felt cheated when the guys went to check it out earlier, but we were left behind to watch the girls argue.

If a character mentions something significant, especially something like the volcano that’s key to the plot, we need to experience it. The same with the cool lizard–yes, it’s there, but why not magnify it so it appears to be a menacing dinosaur? As it is, they just walk around it; another wasted opportunity. And the caveman; why can’t there be a bunch of them, or make them mutants? Or something that’s more interesting than just one old coot?

There’s just nothing that grabs you, nothing to remember in this movie. Ok, the Cadillac convertible looks imposing. Even badly-made sci-fi movies can have a cool scene or good sequence, but here there’s virtually no action, tension, drama, monster, alien, special-effects, plausibility, or theme.

Will put old folks to sleep, and completely bore kids. 2/10.

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