The Incredible Petrified World (1957)

“We are now prepared to invade this black wilderness.” Well, actually they weren’t, since the cable of the diving bell snaps, sending them to a tourist attraction with nice stalactites and stalagmites that I guess is supposed to resemble petrified wood or something. A very long technical explanation about the snapped cable is given later but that comes off like gibberish to me.

The only part worth watching is the genuinely exciting octopus and shark battle at the beginning, but which looks as if it was filmed in a small fish tank which had only a bit of sand poured over the bottom. You might as well turn it off after that part and have a nice nap instead.

The diving bell seems as big as a rocket-ship on the inside, but only about the size of an overinflated beach ball on the outside. This makes for some real laughs, especially when it is hanging and swaying about from the ship’s crane and the actors are near it. It doesn’t look like even one child could fit inside it, let alone the two men and two women, with a lot of room to spare, and the high ceiling.

Absolutely nothing happens in this movie after they get into the diving bell. They don’t even show the implied trip to the volcano area with the lead characters! Instead, we get some sort of senseless and brief argument between the two women and Popeye’s grandfather (or so he appears) making bizarre faces, as if he were in a “make the weirdest face and win fantastic prizes” contest. Silly beyond words and certainly belonging in a movie other than this one. At one point, his eyes are popping so far out, they look like they could just fall out of his face.

Later, “Popeye’s grandfather” actually moves closer to the cave wall and slowly leans against it so that more rocks can hit him! (You can actually tell that he is trying to get under the path of the larger fake falling rocks! Hilarious!)

The ending made no sense to me, either. I may be wrong, but I got the idea that they weren’t really that far under the surface at all. And where was the volcano (which sounded like the amplified recording of a rolling bowling ball and a bit from a storm) relative to the surface? Why wasn’t it more of a noticed event from the ship?

The orchestral soundtrack on my DVD copy is really sour, and sounds more like two tomcats having a stand-off.

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