Battle Beneath the Earth (1967)

So many opportunities to laugh at this film. Where does one begin? European actors in “yellowface” playing the bad guy renegade Chinese army. (Let’s see here — the bad guy in his lair always has an eccentric pet with him — okay the guy has a parrot! Check that off the list!)

A film obviously made in Britain pretending to be a Hollywood film, which takes place in Las Vegas (unconvincing cardboard set inside a sound stage, plus some actual second unit stock footage), San Diego (England), Oregon (England again) and Hawaii (more stock footage, plus various underground tunnels (more paper mache sets in a sound stage).

Comically fake nuclear bombs. Laser guns mounted on bulldozers. Giant spinning tape reel computer banks…no wait, those were real at that time.

Bad directing, jump cuts, dropped frames, one establishing shot where the camera drops off the tripod. Awkward staging. Hokey dialog. The whole plot totally ridiculous. Well, it is like a live action comic book. So why should I take any bit of it seriously? Well, the characters seem to be dead serious about the whole enterprise. (That’s good. True camp does not work if you give a “nod and a wink” to the audience…though that one scene with the slot machines in the mental hospital was perhaps a bit over the line…)

Yes, fans of The Batman or Green Hornet TV shows of this time period will be right at home here. Plenty of bright primary colors, swish pan transitions, and blaring cool-daddyo-jazz soundtrack. It’s all here for the fan of 1960’s camp and Cold War pop culture kitsch to treasure as an endemic artifact of its time, the likes of which we may never see again.

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