Creature From The Haunted Sea, 1961. 5/10

Almost no one liked this, even a little bit. Pretty ambitious effort though; a send-up of espionage, film-noir, and horror. It’s amazing how much Anthony Carbone looks like Bogart; as the mobster Renzi he’ll definitely do. The plot is intentionally convoluted; the characters are beyond types–they’re caricatures of types.

Actually, the premise makes sense. Anti-Castro Cubans smuggle their nation’s gold reserves out on a boat captained by Capetto; he double-crosses them by beaching the boat on a U.S.-controlled island. Only he and his crew know that the gold was tossed overboard where they can recover it. Meanwhile, there’s a U.S. government agent working undercover as a crewman. He (Robert Towne as Sparks Moran) also gives very redundant narration.

Sparks develops a crush on Capetto’s girlfriend Mary-Belle Monahan (Betsy-Jones Moreland). There’s natives on the island with dopey names like Mango (ok, her mom is just plain Rosina). Rounding out the cast are bumbling Cuban soldiers and the best treat of all, Pete (Beach Dickerson). He provides special effects, literally, with amazing animal sounds.

Which leads us to the creature. Although Capetto has Pete give suitable creature shrieks, while (so the conspirators think) another crewman, in a seaweed suit, scares the counter-revolution right out of the Cubans. That works in the short term. There’s a cool scuba ambush, the Cuban General losing. But the creature gets the last laugh. He not only survives, he gets the gold.

At some point everyone realizes that the creature is real; meaning, I’m not sure if Capetto’s fake creature ever got ‘deployed,’ so to speak. Not surprisingly, the creature is as ludicrous as possible–sort of what we imagine the Cookie Monster’s weird uncle might look like. It’s fair to say that the creature’s role is not developed nearly enough.

We could have the entire movie without the creature and not really miss it. Better yet, if it’s more involved early on, such that it attacks a duplicate fake creature, that would really add something.

The stereotypical behavior of most of the Cubans was sometimes not worthwhile. But that was mostly made up for by some actual authenticity; there’s a lot of Spanish dialogue, with subtitles, as though we’re seeing a foreign film. More in tune with the mood of the film are the Spanish-speakers who dish up jokes on the English-only characters that we get but not their clueless targets.

This is entertaining stuff–there’s so much humor, and so many different kinds of it, that there’s probably something here worthwhile for just about anybody. Farmermouse is amused, five coconuts. 5/10.

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