(Nate lost the screen capture files, because he sucks, but they are being
A truly one-of-a-kind film, as well as a one-of-a-kind letdown, Latitude Zero hails from 1969, right at the
zenith of Japan's Golden Age for science fiction "Kaiju" movies. It also was the most expensive of all Inoshiro
Honda's films, costing several million dollars. Originally planned as a US/Japanese collaboration (in the vein of
The Manster or The Green Slime, only much, much more expensive), the funding from the American side
fell through right when filming started. This left Toho in a rather peculiar predicament as they were left with
several American stars who had already flown to Japan and demanded some hefty American salaries. Producer
Tomoyuki Tanaka somehow persuaded the American actors to act pro bono and pay them later, and to most of their
surprise... he did! However, due to legal disputes over rights, this film (which was planned as a huge breakout
for Toho into the U.S. market) was barely released here and remained a relatively "lost movie" for decades until
the recent Shriek Show DVD release. Okay, so before the review starts, kindly allow me to make two brief asides:
ASIDE #1: Isn't this just a wonderful place in history that we live in (at least from an entertainment
standpoint)? Even with the bilge that fills our theaters and video stores, at least we have the option of
slipping these little easily-available, widescreen, and uncut time capsules (aka DVDs) into our players and
watching things never available before. Instead of watching Deal or No Deal, I have the option of watching
entire runs of long-lost TV shows like Robin of Sherwood, Alejandro Jodorowsky films... previously banned
Disney movies like Der Fuhrer's Face... and finally Latitude Zero. Who knows how long this glee
shall continue with gas prices (and everything else) endlessly skyrocketing and the dollar falling... in the
meantime let's just spend our diminishing incomes on DVDs and fast food and remain placated and entertained while
the world crumbles around us.
ASIDE #2 Why is it that EVERY big expensive high budget Japanese/American collaboration HAS to be a huge financial
disaster? There must be some sort of voodoo curse over the whole thing. I mean, most of them aren't THAT bad; I
actually found Solar Crisis to be mildly entertaining, Sayonara Jupiter had some inspired lunacy,
and Virus is among my top 20 films of all time. However, I still haven't seen Gunhed which may tip
the scales completely, having heard the horrible things I have about it.
So on to our show...
Okay, so Latitude Zero opens with the standard Toho logo, complete with Akira Ifukube score. I'm not sure
why, but he decided to go with a South Pacific Polynesian drumbeat for the main theme. I guess it works, since
the title indicates "the Equator" (hence, a good chunk of the Pacific) but unfortunately the rest of the movie
does not stick to this theme at all. Veteran Toho Fans (or the VTF, of which I am acting president as well as
only the member) will be startled to see all the big American names in the cast, and even a few on the crew. We
then see a map of the world when Joseph Cotton's voice reigns in, dramatically explaining where we are...
"longitude 180 degrees... latitude... ZERO!". The camera zooms in dramatically on the map. So far, so good...
We're introduced to a model ship on the high seas (the ship is a slightly beefed up version of the same miniature
ship model so liberally destroyed in Atragon and
Ghidrah, the Three Headed Monster) proclaimed to be "the largest oceanographic
ship in the world" (one of the many moments where this film unsuccessfully tries to impress the hell out of us).
Still, not a bad model, though she needs a
lower freeboard and more heavy-lift cranes to serve her stated role.
It's lowering a tethered bathysphere into the ocean with a Commander, a Scientist, and a reporter (!!) aboard.
The scientist is played by 34-year-old Masumi Okada (here unsuccessfully portraying a French Scientist, though he
looks and sounds totally Japanese), Japanese Commander is 35-year-old Akira Takarada (in his umpteenth Kaiju
movie), and the reporter is 43-year-old Richard Jaekel (American character actor from countless war movies, namely
The Dirty Dozen). Veteran Toho Fans will instantly be shocked to see (or more accurately, "hear") that
none of these actors are dubbed... plus it seems to be direct-source audio!
The French Scientist!
This is a huge first for Japanese films, which have only rarely allowed their native actors to try speaking
phonetic English in films. Sure they've cast American actors like Russ Tamblyn, Lorne Greene, and Nick Adams and
allowed them to speak English (and then dubbed over them later), but they'd be interacting with other actors
speaking Japanese. Not the case here. In a rare attempt to try to get over the "bad dubbing" stigma Americans
usually attach to Kaiju films, this one went with all-English, for better or worse. Over the radio, the captain
(in the mothership) asks if they can hear him... and Akira Takarada responds (in his actual voice) "Rowd and
Crear!". Eek! This heavily accented phonetic English shall go on to haunt the remainder of the film, to varying
degrees. Another gamble lost.
Is that Charlie Sheen there on the right?
We're told this crew is out to survey an undersea current in the Pacific. If things go as planned, they are going
to try to harness the power of the Pacific current to boost submarine speed "just as the jet stream is used by
high-flying aircraft". Is this true? If so, cool! But why all this obsession over submarines? I mean, what
percentage of all ocean traffic is submarines, like under 4% I'd imagine?
Finally, a bathysphere movie set that's appropriately cramped.
Our crew seem to have pretty indistinct personalities. Sure, Jaekel's character, who I'll just call "Nosy
Reporter" seems a little more childlike and inquisitive than the two Japanese men. Takarada seems bored
throughout, while Okada barely says or does anything at all! All three of these characters could have easily been
combined and the film would have lost nothing. They're always together in one group throughout the film and don't
have personalities that really differentiate themselves. All that they really accomplish is padding the running
time--because each time they encounter or have to do something, we get to watch it happen 3 times in a row instead
of just once!
Well it's almost immediate that a huge problem comes up (I've never seen a bathysphere perform its function in a
film and NOT have a major malfunction) and a powerful underwater explosion knocks the sub into a trench.
Meanwhile a volcano on the ocean floor blows, treating the crew on the ship above to a dazzling pyrotechnic
display! This is probably the coolest effect in the whole movie, and Honda wisely decides to linger on this scene
a lot longer than he needs to. Beautiful plumes of multi-colored smoke burst out of the ocean in glorious slow
motion. On top of that, lightning bolts (!!!) start ripping through it! It's like an art all of its own.
Their first shore leave in Amsterdam was
almost more than they could handle...
Meanwhile the bathysphere plunges into the depths, cut off from the mothership and apparently dooming our 3
protagonists to a watery sudden decompression. However, not to fear, the fabled and high tech submarine, the
Gotengo... er I mean Atragon, er um no, the Alpha smoothly chugs in and rescues the three
men. We'll just call it the "Nautilus" for this review (as who are they kidding anyway?). Two of them,
Nosy Reporter and Japanese Commander (Takarada) wake up in a bunk. They're astonished to find that their injuries
have healed... and that they're half naked with only blaze orange jumpsuits to wear! As they stand up it's made
quite apparent how outrageously tall Takarada is for a Japanese man, with Jaekel at least a head shorter.
They ca...wait, any and all gay jokes would
be too easy, I'll let this one pass.
In walks a half-naked woman (in a golden backless gown which is rather revealing for a decidedly children's movie)
who identifies herself as Dr. Anne Barton. Sure, a young supermodel-quality blonde who somehow is already out of
medical school... mmm-hmmm... this is about as believable as Dr. Tara Reid in Alone in the Dark. I don't
know why they decided to try to make us believe she's a doctor, because she barely does anything doctor-ly, or
really anything at all throughout the rest of the film. Anne is played by 21-year-old (!!!) Linda Haynes, best
known as the love interest in the sadly unknown 1977 revenge movie Rolling Thunder. Since she's obviously
above any sort of support system (fitting in with the women's lib movement of the late-60's), I'll just call her
"Dr. No-Bra" throughout this review.
Seriously, those need some support, otherwise
in thirty years they'll be down to her knees.
Dr. No-Bra greets the men in a really odd posture I assume done purely to accentuate her breasts. It doesn't look
very comfortable. She informs them that "French Scientist" is hurt bad and she's looking after him. She fits
them with orange jumps suits and allows them free run of the ship (which we assume is pretty big though we never
really get to seem much of), aside from this room and the bridge.
Glorious boobs! And I'm sure hers are pretty nice, too.
Japanese Commander and Nosy Reporter wander around and stumble into the main bridge of the submarine to find a
crew of two (!!!) men at their stations. One is a big muscular lummox of a Japanese man, who unfortunately is
uncredited so I have no idea who he is. He never says or does much in the film other than to be the "big strong
guy" like "Ben Grimm" of The Fantastic 4 or the "Gan" character on Blake's 7. So yeah, basically a
Big Strong Guy.
The other man, dressed all daintily like Elton John with a billowy white swashbuckler shirt and a green scarf, is
Captain Nemo... er I mean "Captain McKenzie", played by one of history's great unsung actors, 63-year-old Joseph
Cotten. Cotten (man, his name is playing hell with my spell-check) is best remembered for his small part in
Citizen Kane, and then for his starring role in The Third Man. Long past his prime by the time this
film was made, he had started to take on sillier and sillier roles in low budget B-movies such as Lady
Frankenstein and Rambo's Revenge, always playing a similar character, that of despondent old killjoy
(though I think that's just his acting style). He's here busy entertaining himself writing some "notes" (on a
tablet which is quite obviously blank) while watching cool footage of the explosion (which is still going on).
"Welcome to the Love Boat, I'm your captain."
What more could he write than "big boom"?
Okay, now comes time for exposition piled upon exposition. Japanese Commander and Nosy Reporter grill him about
what nationality the sub belongs to, where all the high technology comes from, why a mural on the wall says the
sub is 160 years old, and why the "doctor" is so hot. Captain Nemo just dances around the questions and gives
them somewhat cryptic answers, in keeping with this film's constant attempts to impress the hell out of us.
"Yes, I do think you need to see a doctor about that rash."
Suddenly Dr. No-Bra bursts in and says that "French Scientist" is hurt too bad for her to fix up, so they must
call off their "experiment" and return to base. Much to everyone's dismay, Captain Nemo actually hesitates for a
few moments before deciding to follow her advice. This is a rare moment in the film; pretty much the only time
the protagonists have any sort of internal conflict and a hint that Captain Nemo is not the shining hero he
appears to be. Unfortunately, that's all we get.
Nemo working on his lounge act, he's opening
for Tom Jones next week.
So the sub is on its way to a base referred to as... you guessed it... "Latitude Zero"! And we now know
conclusively that its entire crew is just 3 persons! And yes, one of them is just a doctor (who probably just
sits and plays solitaire until one of the other two gets sick), one's a captain (who just tells the strong guy
what to do), and the helmsman who does all the steering. That's it! No maintenance crew, no engineers, no
nothing! It's all automated... which should be impressing the hell out of us right now, but I just see as
a way of cutting costs by not hiring extras. Atragon, which this film is a (very) loose sequel to,
was much more populated and believable... and ultimately more fun, not only in this regard but all-round. Atragon had some urgency to it as humans raced to
fight some worldwide threat. Here all we get are about a dozen characters total fighting against some ridiculous
evil genius right out of a James Bond movie.
See that launch plaque? It reads June 21st,
1805. Verne would be so proud.
Yes, evil genius is right. We're immediately introduced to the antagonist of the film... he's got an aquarium and
laughs maniacally to himself, so he must be evil! Plus, he's dressed in a mumu! On top of that, he's played by
the Joker himself, 62-year-old Cesar Romero! Cesar Romero is best known as possibly the first Hispanic Hollywood
leading man from the 40's and 50's, and with this film would be the second secretly gay American to appear in a
Toho film, following Raymond Burr in the original Gojira. His character here is named Dr. Malic,
and he's supposed to be an evil genius who runs some sort of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.-like organization... but he doesn't do
anything remotely intelligent throughout the whole film, making me wonder if he got his doctorate at the same
place as the soda I'm drinking. I'll call him "Dr. Dumbass".
Page six of Mugatu's spring collection.
Pointlessly groovy evil pad, man.
He's joined by his mistress, played by 49-year-old Patricia Medina (who was in real life married to Joseph Cotton
at the time) cackles along side him. She's pretty hot for a woman her age, possibly owing a lot to that heavy
60's eye make-up--to me sort of looking like a little more effeminate version of Captain Janeway. She casually
drinks some wine while seated at some important looking controls, pointing out that the Nautilus is on the
Does she not look like a soused Joan Collins?
Dr. Dumbass immediately dispatches his sub, piloted by a truly hideous looking and awful actress (who was most
likely cast only because she spoke Engrish and looked sort-of belligerent) referred to as Captain Kroiga. We're
supposed to be scared of her since she's got this monstrous huge black ponytail and carries a long pointy baton,
but her impish face and weak demeanor is that of a decidedly unscary and wimpy middle-aged spinster, desperate to
find validation late in life from never having children... plus she looks more like The Grinch than anything.
I'll just call her Capt. Womangrinch.
"Asian girl in leather", number three on
Google's search engine list.
Surprisingly her submarine (called the "Black Shark") actually has a crew of around a dozen random lackeys
of various ethnicities, all forced to wear goofy looking shiny brown vests and skirts (!?). Whoever was in charge
of costuming on this film should be shot. The lead costume designer was unsurprisingly an American export, Linda
Glazman, who rightfully never worked on any film before or since this one.
The Black Shark, with way too many
gaping openings and right-angle superstructure parts sticking up, you could see this thing on sonar from a hundred
Not a bad set, even if it does look like a Klingon Bird of
Womangrinch's sub immediately pounces on the Nautilus, accompanied by some of Akira Ifukube's finest music.
A haunting and blaring trumpet tune, accompanied by searing violins--at least one of the Toho regulars was on the
ball with this one. What follows is one of the better sequences in the film, with somewhat believable underwater
physics, decent photography, good special effects, serious sounding music, and a somewhat suspenseful tone.
The miniskirt and open-chest vest look is NOT unisex, trust me.
It's hurt by the fact that we know the characters are not in any real danger, mostly given away by Cotton's rather
bored and unconcerned facial expressions. Captain Nemo dodges its first torpedo volley by boosting the sub over a
cliff at the last minute. Notice how he kicks the Japanese man out of the driver's seat now that the safety of
the sub is on the line. It reminds me of the SNL skit where the prick of the computer guy yells "MOVE" every time
someone has a tech question so he can just do it himself without having to explain things.
Can he look any more gay than that?
The rear-view monitor displays a cool shot of the enemy sub rising out of the explosion to continue its advance,
closing in on them. Nemo decides to weave the submarine through a very convenient undersea trench, prompting
Capt. Womangrinch to fire heat-seeking missiles at it which zip after it perfectly. Of course at the last minute
Nemo's expert piloting not only dodges them but causes them to collide. Wow! The explosion doesn't hurt the
Nautilus but causes the Black Shark to get knocked around a lot with the actors all doing the usual
Star Trek bridge crew fling-around. This is curious as you'd think the explosion would have been ever bigger (and
closer) had the missiles actually hit their intended target.
The Kirk Jiggle.
Then comes his most ridiculous trick up his sleeve--Nemo uses some sort of mirage generating device to project a
second sub next to him, just like the holograph generator Arnold used in Total Recall! This doesn't strike
me as that good of an idea as subs rely more on sonar to detect each other, so you'd think they could easily keep
track of where the sub they were chasing was and which sudden new detection is the fake one. Oddly this whole
underwater battle sequence presents both the sub commanders as relying totally on line of sight! Capt.
Womangrinch then applies her most powerful weapon, a huge laser that shoots through the water which causes to
projected image of the sub to explode. (!!!!) So in addition to loading in an image of the sub, they somehow
programmed it to make the projection explode (convincingly) when fired upon??? Why would a laser cause something
to explode anyway?
Underwater laser gun, which seems to defy several laws of physics.
Womangrinch and her men briefly celebrate only to realize that they hit the wrong sub. By this point it's too
late. She desperately tries ramming (!!) the Nautilus but, as a very poorly scaled composite shot tells
us, the Black Shark totally misses. Nemo then powers up an electromagnetic shield around the sub which
then enters a powerful energy field on the ocean floor. The Black Shark follows but barely penetrates the
field, only to bounce back out and into a cliff. Roll same footage of the bad guys doing the Star Trek bridge
crew fling-around. As though we didn't remember this from when we last saw it 2 minutes ago? Needless to say,
all this is followed up with a heavy chastising by an angry Dr. Dumbass over his incompetent sub crew.
Glowing dome thingie.
Meanwhile, the good guy sub, I mean the Nautilus, heads into a tunnel through a rock wall. VTF members may
recognize the tunnel as the same one the saucers flew out of on Planet X in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. It then
surfaces into a large underwater domed city with lots of Thunderbirds style moving miniature buildings and
railways. A nice touch here is a few people blue-screened in and placed on the miniatures, trying to "sell" them
as full-sized sets. This whole sequence is horribly drawn out in great detail, with the Nautilus rolling
up to deck, sending out a walkway, the people getting out, and Nosy Reporter taking pictures of everything.
Thunderbirds are Go!
Ok, I'll say it, that's a cool miniature set.
Injured "French Scientist" is extracted from the sub and placed in a waiting Toyota van which rolls off with an
electrical whirr. Meanwhile, Captain Nemo embarks on giving the other two a detailed tour of his underground
kingdom. The pace slows to a ridiculous crawl as we get matte painting after matte painting with futuristic
buildings and people in futuristic clothing just meandering around and having picnics. It's all bright and happy
and played up like a typical movie Utopia, but even watching this for 5 minutes is so tedious, I'd be surprised if
any of the residents of Latitude Zero weren't brainwashed into thinking this was fun. I guess it beats living in
Philadelphia, but still, it's just a giant futuristic cage under the ocean.
Did they import this Toyota van from Japan?
Or did they make a copy of it indigenously?
Couples in the park, how romantic.
The big glowing ball in the sky thingie (I
work third shift so I never actually see this).
The group is taken to a central important building with a giant scale model of Latitude Zero with a long pointer
wand/pool cue, convenient for more Nemo-fueled painful exposition as he gives Commander and Nosy Reporter the
rundown. It seems this society has no government, no currency, no food problems, and an artificial sun. Latitude
Zero is held together purely by the altruistic will to advance "the good of mankind" and most of the population is
made up of scientists presumed dead or missing on the world about over the last several years. Oh yeah, and
people down here really love bouncing on trampolines.
"And this is where we are building the gay roller derby
"And over there, behind the Wal-Mart, that's
where Mister Roger's house is."
Okay, so awaking after nap #3, I return to this film to see Dr. No-Bra meeting with yet another, somewhat more
highly accredited Doctor, this one played by legendary 41-year-old Toho performer Akihiko Hirata. Hirata is best
known for the atoning Dr. Serizawa in the original Gojira. By this point in his career he was
mostly doing bit cameos, and that's all he gets here--about 2 minutes of screentime as a random doctor. He gives
the English language a good college try... but to no avail and his dialog in this scene is completely
unintelligible. It's somewhere along the line of "French Scientist was all fucked up but I fixed him and now he's
okay". The most unfortunate thing about this scene is his costume--a clear-plastic blouse right out of Blade
"Yes, I keep what's left of my self-respect in that jar over
We then get to the least-impressive set of the film, which looks like the lobby for a college dormitory. Captain
Nemo leads Commander and Nosy Reporter up some stairs and into their quarters. Nosy Reporter immediately notices
that all the plants in the room are planted in pots filled with diamonds (!!!) instead of dirt. He asks Nemo if
they're real and Nemo gives us, with the same old despondent Joe Cotten pauses and gravitas we're all used to, the
line "Everything in Latitude Zero is... real...". Nosy Reporter immediately scoops up as many of the diamonds as
he can and loads them into his tobacco pouch. Meanwhile Japanese Commander just smirks like he could give a
flying fuck. Notice it's just us greedy Americans who steal, while everyone else is content to just leave riches
and wealth well enough alone.
Staircase...of the future!
Whitney Houston's valet stocks up on rock for his boss.
We then go into great detail over the culinary system of Latitude Zero and method of ordering food over a computer
and then having it instantly delivered to your room via a dumbwaiter system. Back in the 60's I could see how
audiences may have marveled at such concepts, but it's lost on us viewers raised on Star Trek: the Next
Generation. After Nemo leaves, Nosy Reporter and Japanese Commander posit a few theories about how the whole
system works, with Nosy Reporter being really skeptical about the whole thing while Japanese Commander appears to
just be really diggin' it. They sit down to a huge meal and toast "to Ratitude Zero!". I must point out how even
though we're 50 minutes in, we're still firmly in Act 1, with no "real" conflict presented so far.
What are those things on top? Snails? Legless lobsters?
Is that figgy pie there in front of the Reporter?
Not to worry, right on cue Dr. Dumbass hatches his evil plan. He's right in the middle of watching the same movie
we are with his mistress, who is still slurping on the wine. Why do women love wine so much? Through some camera
he is able to see everything going on in Latitude Zero. How does he have this? Does this mean there are
undercover agents of his inside? He gets a call which lets him know that his agents missed kidnapping a certain
Doctor Okada (the umpteenth doctor in this film...) who has invented some miracle drug that cures radiation
sickness. Dr. Dumbass decides to send his cronies in the Black Shark to kidnap the important Doctor, who
is now sailing from Japan to Honolulu. Why is he traveling by boat rather than taking a plane? Do the filmmakers
realize it's 1969?
"Do you like gerbils...?"
Back in Latitude Zero, or "LZ" for short, French Scientist finally gets in a few lines having completely recovered
from his injuries earlier in the film. Nemo then shows off a plastic toy of an olive drab 1969 Dodge Charger with
glued on fins. He explains how people go back and forth from LZ through the use of such vehicles (which assumably
can drive on land and withstand the pressures of several thousand feet of water while driving around on the ocean
floor). We're not given any such amusing footage, only told about it. We're also told about how important Dr.
Okada and his radiation discovery are, and how LZ agents are about to bring him in.
The mock turtleneck and blazer look just
won't die. Kinda like the Rolling Stones.
Oh, you cannot be serious.
Cut to Okada and his daughter riding on a model ship that's in front of a sky backdrop that looks suspiciously
similar to the one we saw at the beginning of the movie. It's chugging along on the ocean when suddenly Ifukube's
roaring music pierces the silence and the Black Shark surfaces nearby. Finally we get to meet the fabled
Dr. Okada and his requisite hot daughter as they run around amongst the panicked sailors.
Otto Kretschmer scores another kill...
Okada is played by 61-year-old Tetsu Nakamura who had a small role in What's up, Tiger Lily?, and I must
admit has one of the best handles on the English language of all the Japanese actors in the movie. Even though
he's one Doctor in a sea of doctors in this film, he sort of qualifies himself with some impressive off-screen
invention. There's so many doctors in this thing that I'll just call him Mr. Miyagi because he bears a more than a
passing resemblance to the late Pat Morita. His hot daughter is played without much personality by Mari Nakayama,
whole also seems to be a native English speaker. Nakayama still acts, but very occasionally since this film,
having appeared in 9 films total over a 37 year career.
Mr. Miyagi and his Hot Daughter.
Back to Dr. Dumbass (now wearing another even sillier looking mumu) and his mistress (who is wearing a seriously
low-cut white dress). Damn, Patricia Media is seriously smoking for a chick pushing 50. It's hard to pay
attention to anything in her scenes besides that pair of titties that appear to be ready to burst right out of the
pair of D-cups she's got on. There's not really much reason for this scene... just more "character building" to
show how evil the bad guys are, high-fiving the capture of Mr. Miyagi.
Ok, maybe she's not that hot, even with the massive rack.
Oh yeah, the movie... anyway we then go back to more painful exposition about how LZ leaks its scientific
discoveries to the real world. This is aided by footage on what looks like a giant HD TV screen, but since this
is 30 years before any of that, the effect is done through bluescreening. Things get interrupted when a bunch of
reporters of varying nationalities clog the screen all concerned about Mr. Miyagi and how this kidnap may start
World War 3 with the Russians and Americans both blaming each other over the kidnap.
Please, a poka-dot tie with a brown check tweed jacket?
"Tonight on Meet the Press, we discuss the latest Paris Hilton sex
Nemo immediately springs into action and forms a rescue attempt, conveniently with three empty positions. Even
though the three protagonists just got there, he immediately decides he trusts them and their abilities enough to
take them on in this extremely important mission (!!!!). Finally Act 2, roughly an hour into the 105 minute
"Jesus Christ!!! Get those things off me!!!"
Nemo pulls up a map which pinpoints where Mr. Miyagi is being held. They decide he's on an uncharted island named
"Blood Rock". Oooh, I'm scared already.
"And that's why you should give me a sponge bath..."
The group then gets to try out the "Bath of Renewal" in a very strange scene, especially in the awkward way it
handles the nudity through framing and lighting. When Dr. No-Bra walks in and gets in the tub, the movie just
sort of stops and lingers on her and all the guys just look at her. When it's time to get out, the guys all say
"ladies first" to which she has to get all women's lib and say "I'd think YOU'D better go first" all forceful and
bitchy-like. Yeah, so it's somehow okay to see her full bush and bouncy titties, but getting a glance at her wet
naked ass is big no-no? I'll never understand women...
The Reporter couldn't hide his sexual arousal
for the Scientist, who in turn could see that the rumors about white men were true.
Not the best screen cap, eh? She needs a cheeseburger.
The group then all towels-off with Captain Nemo, who is thankfully already in a bathrobe making me wonder if Joe
Cotten was particularly self conscious about appearing topless in his films... anyway they're led to an ominous
looking man in an orange jumpsuit, played by American expatriate and familiar face to Godzilla movie fans, Osman
Yusuf. Yusuf is carrying a chrome 9mm Beretta which he immediately fires at Nemo. Nemo catches (!?!) the bullet
and explains that their miracle bath not only stops the aging process but makes the skin impervious to bullets as
well! To further explain this, as though we can't just take Nemo's word for it, Yusuf goes on to actually shoot
every one of them, not even leaving a welt. Note this is the only gun in the movie. They're all then fitted with
temperature resistant golden jumpsuits, which are strangely among the least-ridiculous looking costumes in the
"I know, I know, but I couldn't find a bigger gun."
"Haha, sure it hurt at first, but it felt
great once it was over. Oh, and that guy shot me with a gun, too."
Back at the bad guy lair where Mr. Miyagi and Hot Daughter are being held prisoner. What happened to the rest of
the passengers on their ship is anyone's guess, but we can assume that they were all sent to a watery grave by the
Black Shark. Dr. Dumbass and his mistress walk in. Dumbass is now wearing a white Afrika Korps-type
uniform complete with knee-high riding boots and a flowing red and white buttoned-on cape. His Mistress is
wearing a red pantsuit with a clear plastic cape. Was the costume designer on acid? I mean, seriously?
Dr. Dumbass brags to Miyagi about his plan to lure Captain Nemo there by kidnapping him. It turns out Miyagi was
carrying a transmitter the whole time which is programmed to lead Nemo to him, which is exactly what Dumbass wants
because he assumes (!) Nemo will personally come (!) to rescue him and fall right into his evil clutches. You'd
think this would mean Dr. Dumbass has some outrageous clever scheme to trap Nemo... well not really.
Five glasses, four of them, please explain.
Captain Womangrinch was behind the capture of Mr. Miyagi, so she starts to demand her reward and get all touchy-
feely with Dr. Dumbass. Maybe she IS pretty scary after all? Dr. Dumbass leads her on as any real gentlemen
would into a prison cell which he locks her inside. Still too dumb to get what's going on, she finally gets it
hammered into her skull when a steel cage drops down from the ceiling on top of her just like in the "Mouse Trap"
board game! Wow, if that's how he rewards all his lieutenants for good work, you wonder how he treats the ones
who screw up?
Excuse me, but John Holmes called, he wants
his rainbow porn tent back.
Asian chick in a cage, a scene that
encompasses half the websites on the internet.
Dr. Dumbass then tries to use Womangrinch's fate as leverage to get Miyagi to give up his formula (!!!). What,
like why would Miyagi care about the woman who kidnapped him? Dumbass then treats Miyagi and his Hot Daughter to
his "horrible creations", two guys in cuddly-looking bat costumes behind an iron door. These guys are about as
close to monsters as we get in this "Kaiju" besides the two kickers coming up, and as pathetic as the "bat man"
suits are, they're the best monster suits in the whole film! That's not a good omen so far. Oh, and note how I
never took a cheap shot at Cesar "The Joker" Romero and Batman being in cahoots...
Tiny little amber lamps, but million-watt spotlights backing them
Miyagi says "you're a monster!" to which Dr. Dumbass responds "No, I'm a genius!". What a comeback!
"I drink your milkshake!"
Aboard the Nautilus, Nemo and the rest of the good guys are on their way. Nemo is concerned briefly that
the homing signal has stopped transmitting, but decides it's not a big enough deal to change plans over.
The Juneau Community Theater's production of
Gay Superheroes on Ice was doomed to fail from the start.
We now get another really awkward and "adult" sequence, probably one of the standouts of the film. Dr. Dumbass
(now in his surgical mumu) forces Mr. Miyagi and his Hot Daughter to watch him perform a ghastly experiment on
Capt. Womangrinch in which he removes her brain (!) and puts it into the body of a lion (!!!). Standing around
everywhere at attention are the cuddly bat men who seem to be smart enough to obey his orders without question.
Notice that their arms are fixed to their wings in most shots, but when they're required to grab Mr. Miyagi or do
anything, suddenly their arms and wings are not connected anymore. Suit continuity this bad hasn't been seen
since Kong's arms in King Kong vs.
It's Varan the Unbelievable's equally unimpressive stepchild.
Often, I too feel like I have a bat man on my
shoulder when faced with vexing social problems.
Unfortunately Dr. Dumbass decided to leave Capt. Womangrinch conscious enough to allow her to go on a bad acting
tour-de-force on the operating table. Thankfully he injects her with a tranquilizer and puts a stop to the
Down-blouse shot, another internet staple
(just too easy to hit the "Asian girl bondage" angle).
Dumbass then opens two cages--one with Haruo Nakajima crawling around in a HORRIBLE lion costume, roaring just
like King Kong did. The other cage has a condor sitting there squaking by itself. Dumbass intends to merge the
three subjects into one monster--a horrible gryphon which he declares shall destroy his enemy Captain Nemo who is
inadvertently on his way to his doom! Isn't he really putting some unnecessarily tight time constraints on such a
Couldn't they have just gotten a real lion
from a zoo? This is embarrassing.
He begins by just sticking his scalpel into the lion's head and sawing its brain out. There's no blood--it's like
he's operating on a stuffed animal (which he is)... most of it's offscreen yet disturbing nonetheless. Mr. Miyagi
spills the beans on his formula as he can't take watching any more experiments... but Dr. Dumbass refuses as he's
too far along in his surgery to stop. He immediately saws off Dr. Womangrinch's scalp, removes her brain, and
just plops it in the lion's head. I'm amazed the lion's skull cavity exactly accommodates a human brain, and that
there is no need problem of organ rejection or nerve/artery connections at all. According to Latitude
Zero, brain surgery is a simply plug-n-play affair!
When I had my sex change op...I mean, my
appendix taken out, they shaved half my damn body! But here Dumbass does brain surgery without displacing a
"And God said, 'Let there be genetic freaks
of nature!' And it was good."
Meanwhile Captain Nemo and the Nautilus have rolled up along side the edge of Blood Rock to find it surrounded by
sheer cliffs. Nemo introduces the rest of the heroes to their magic jetpacks and laser/flame/poison gas-shooting
gloves. Much like Dr. Dumbass and his newly created monster, Nemo apparently finds training and planning to be
absolutely unnecessary and that a 2 minute overview about the weapon's workings is all these scientists and
Hmmm...I like how she handles my steering wheel...
Out opens the door and away our heroes go, zipping up over the cliff ledge, momentarily represented by G.I.Joe's
in golden costumes being hoisted up with strings. Dr. No-Bra stays behind and submerges the sub, because of
course you know you can't bring women along on exciting dangerous adventures or something will go wrong. I know,
I was born a few decades too late...
Ha. That's something I could do with my kid's toys.
Seriously, I know that sort of landscape is a
Toho trademark, but where is there actually any rock faces that look like that?
The heroes all get to sneak around the barren rocky hills of Blood Rock, only to be caught in some sort of
magnetic ditch. Luckily Big Strong Guy is there and is strong enough to pull them all out. Wow, what a lame
"Sky Captain, we have to save Polly Perkins!"
Meanwhile Dr. Dumbass and his mistress are watching the whole thing on TV as though they've got every inch of the
island covered with full-color security cameras from multiple angles! These security cameras (like those in most
films) are totally hidden and able to remotely record on 35mm filmstock with proper focus and exposure, develop,
telecine, and broadcast on a closed circuit TV system instantly! Dr. Dumbass should give up being an evil genius
and work for Panasonic... he'd make billions!
Asian man-butt porn, 1969 style.
Dumbass has finished his experiment by merely sawing off the condor's wings and gluing them onto the sides of the
lion! Somehow this addle-brained experiment works perfectly because... he's a genius! He then just introduces an
"amplification serum" which will magically cause the gryphon to grow to giant size. For some reason its roar now
sounds like a lion's and condor's mixed together, meaning that just adding some vulture wings onto you shall
somehow infuse its essence into your speech pattern. The gryphon gets up from the lab table and obediently obeys
Dr. Dumbass's orders to find and kill Captain Nemo.
Back to Captain Nemo and his intrepid warriors who are wandering around the island. A sudden rockslide forces
them into a cave in which they come face to face with some giant rats, portrayed by Japanese men crawling around
in rat costumes! While I've seen worse attempts at giant rats (called "The Talons of Weng Chiang"), this gets to
be highly irritating as the rats emit a three-squeak sequence which repeats ad nauseum. I've owned a variety of
pet rodents over the years and I don't recall them constantly squeaking like this. These giant rats just won't
shut up! Typical of rats in movies, they're mindless killers hungering after human flesh, and they have glowing
Rat thingies in the smoke. Trust me, they're in there.
Nemo and his friends all fire fingertip poison gas missiles (is that really the best thing to do in a small
enclosed cave with limited ventilation?) which only succeed in giving the rats nasty migraines. The heroes flee
down another (rather convenient and rat-free) passageway into an open area covered in human bones, complete with
sulfur geysers and an impassable acidic lake. To make matters worse, more giant rats burst out from the cave
behind them. It looks like it's lights out for Nemo and his fast-friends.
Ah, bad, caught the stand-up kleig light
reflection in his goggle lens.
You'd think carnivores would rip the limbs
off while eating, instead of leaving perfectly articulated skeletons, but what do I know.
Nemo immediately sets one of the rat's head on fire with his fingertip flame thrower (I can't believe I am writing
this) while the others try to wade across, with Big Strong Guy sticking his foot in the acid to test it out. His
foot gets stuck, melting his boot into a steaming pulp. Japanese Commander rips it off, and amazingly the poor
guy's foot appears to be completely unharmed!
Michael Vick's pot stash in his boot
unfortunately caught fire while trying to pass through customs...
Because a jetpack got lost in the struggle, Nemo orders them all to hook arms and jet pack across. Why didn't
they just do that in the first place? Undeterred, the giant rats all leap out into the acid lake in hot pursuit,
quickly becoming ingredients in a rather unhealthy looking stew.
Second from the right, tell me that's not funny.
Like lemmings into the pink raspberry Kool-aid.
Back at the ranch, Dr. Dumbass is highly miffed (he's not the only one, I payed good money to see monsters,
dammit) that his newly created gryphon monster is just perched on a ledge and not doing anything. He then embarks
on another experiment, this one involving Mr. Miyagi.
"How would you like your sideburns?"
Just then, Captain Nemo and the rest of the good guys burst forth and duke it out with Dr. Dumbass and his bat man
henchmen. Amidst all the ensuing chaos, we get numerous shots with painfully (and I mean painfully) obvious wires
as the bat men fly around the room. A close-up on a bat man's back reveals a very obvious zipper, making me
wonder if they're supposed to be guys in costumes (like some sort of organic looking uniform) or if they're
supposed to indeed be monsters. Needless to say, their fighting skills are severely lacking.
The Commander's attempt at interruptive dance
failed miserably as his companions laughed him off the stage.
Wielding nothing but a syringe, Mistress lunges at her real life husband Cotten, who just grabs her and tosses her
at Dr. Dumbass (who is brandishing his surgical scalpel). Accidentally running her through, the whole battle
pauses for a minute or two so that Dumbass and Mistress can have a moment together as she dies in his arms.
What's with the stained glass?
"Crap! She was just learning how to make a decent sandwich."
Dumbass only seems slightly more miffed and orders his bat men back into the skirmish. However, Nemo is through
playing games and makes quick work of them all with his finger-laser. Even though we get quick shots of Nosy
Reporter, Japanese Commander, French Scientist, and Strong Silent Japanese Guy fighting, it's really Nemo who does
all the dirty work and does all the killing. I must commend the Japanese suit actors here on their death
performances--they look like they took a number of really hard falls.
"Pull my finger!"
Never talk about Fight Club...
Dr. Dumbass shuts all the doors and windows, unleashing a cloud of mildly annoying little composited-on bats to
distract the heroes as he makes his clean getaway. The heroes then gather around the corpse of his mistress,
which instantly decomposes and crumbles into a pile of sand. Does this mean she was some sort of golem he created
or something? Who knows. I think it's supposed to impress the hell out of us. Makes me wonder why she was so
easily killed with a scalpel in the guts though.
What have we learned here? Chicks don't like
gold jumpsuits, they dig earthtone button-downs and brown Dockers.
Even though it took 20 minutes of movie to get in, it takes 30 seconds for our heroes to evacuate Dr. Dumbasses
hideout and get back to the sub. Immediately after getting back to the sub, they're greeting with (you guessed
it) the Black Shark! This time, Dr. Dumbass himself is piloting the sub with the same dozen or so henchmen
who were until recently so dutifully in the service of Captain Womangrinch. Where were these henchmen earlier?
They would have come in handy helping to guard his base, which come to think of it was really lacking in anything
Gunther Prien stalks a merchie on the high seas.
The Black Shark takes some pot shots at the rockface above the sub, crippling it with a shower of magnetic
charged particles. These cause the entire sub to become electrified, giving the Big Strong Guy a nasty shock at
the controls. Capt. Nemo is too tough for it though and just takes the shock like a man as he pulls a level which
immunizes the sub from the particles. It works like a charm, but Dr. Dumbass then presses a button (on the
periscope controls) that causes the cliff itself to magnetize and trap the Nautilus.
Hmm...looks like someone splattered yogurt on
the back of a Star Trek cruiser's engineering section.
"Hehe, I used to sneak into parties posing as Robert Stack."
Okay, so in the time it says to say "deus-ex machina", Nemo flips another switch while talking about "that last
minute modification" they made at port. The Nautilus then rockets straight up and takes off into the air
(!!!). The whole time, Dr. Dumbass and his men just sit there and stare, only then attempting to shoot it down
with their onboard laser gun once it's airborne and flying circles around them. Of course, the laser misses every
Frustrated, Dr. Dumbass runs in and starts personally firing the gun, shrugging off his cronies' warnings that
the sub is getting caught in the magnetic field itself. His aim reveals itself to be no improvement at all over
"All your base are belong to us!"
The only thing I see here is the gold pinkie
ring. Who wears these?
Suddenly the gryphon decides to join in, but rather than attack the Nautilus, it conveniently goes for the
Black Shark! Apparently pissed about the earlier surgery (though it was totally obedient just 4 scenes
ago), the gryphon pounces on the laser turret and smashes it like a soda can, killing Dr. Dumbass and sending
laser beams into the nearby cliff. Debris rains all over the sub and the gryphon, causing the sub to explode in a
giant plume of flame, killing all aboard.
The gryphon is pissed.
The explosion then spreads to the rest of the island (what is this place made of, magnesium?) which proceeds to
turn into a raging inferno of explosions.
Ever heard of a power strip, or a circuit breaker?
Their mission completely successful and having suffered no casualties or setbacks at all, the heroes contently all
fly off into the wild blue yonder. Note that French Scientist and Dr. No-Bra are holding hands, implying some
Y.M.C...oh, forget it, that's too easy.
Back on the ocean floor in the underwater paradise of L.Z. everyone's having a gay old time picnicking and
throwing frisbees. French Scientist and Dr. No-Bra seem to have paired up, as have Japanese Commander and Hot
Daughter. Mr. Miyagi is nowhere to be seen. Nosy Reporter, seemingly the only person in the history of Latitude
Zero to actually want to leave, packs up and says goodbye to Nemo. Note that Nemo is wearing yet another
ridiculous costume, looking like a cross between a pro golfer and a jockey. Nosy Reporter chides Nemo for keeping
all this a secret. Nemo just smarmily tells him that the world is too violent and unprepared to realize the
"shocking truth" or whatever. I guess it's supposed to make us all feel bad for not just getting past our
differences and getting straight-A's in school.
Dig that red t-shirt, very SoHo.
Then comes a really awkward sequence, especially THIS late in the game as far as the movie's concerned, flashing
quick stills of various riots and African civil wars. Hey, this movie was so shy to show us blood or female
nudity, but it has no problem showing us bloated corpses on the streets of Nairobi. What gives?
I'd love to paint my house like that.
Just out of curiosity, why would a
Japanese/American production have newspaper stills in French?
We then go to a Japanese (?) Naval destroyer out to pick up a NASA space probe which is coming to reenter the
earth's atmosphere and make a nearby splashdown. The crew is astonished to find Nosy Reporter floating along in a
raft, plus he's totally dry! Decompression chambers are for wusses anyway.
Onboard, Nosy Reporter relays his story of Latitude Zero and how he and his friends saved the world, greeted by
nothing but laughter from the full complement of reporters aboard. Much to his surprise, in walk two men in
officers clothing, played by Akira Takarada and Joseph Cotten (!!!). They bring in his camera film to show him
that all the pictures came out blank.
The squared-off tie needs to come back, it looks retro-cool.
"Yes, you're right, that is JFK getting a hummer from
Frustrated, Nosy Reporter takes out his bag of diamonds to find that there's just tobacco inside. The captain
then orders him taken to sick bay escorted by a Lieutenant played by... Cesar Romero! What? Is this pathetically
trying to emulate the ending of The Wizard of Oz or what? And what kind of fuck-up would stay a Lieutenant
in the navy all the way to age 62 anyway? Nosy Reporter is forcibly taken away, assumed to be completely insane.
DENNIS QUAID!!! All movie long I've been
trying to figure out who this dork looks like! Dennis Quaid!
Jaunty! Nice to see the US Geriatric Navy is
holding down the home front while all the young swabs are over in Vietnam getting STDs from shore leave
Then a radio dispatch comes in informing them all that 6,000 karats worth of diamonds have been placed in his bank
account. Roll Credits.
What's with the dude with the bad posture?
Okay so that movie was pretty lacking. Any number of things would have made it much, much better, such as giving
the whole thing, I dunno, a little gravity maybe? There are too many main characters, not enough secondary
characters, no real development beyond their one dimensional stereotypes, and every challenge is too easily
overcome. A death or a sacrifice from one of the main characters might have helped a little. The bad guys are so
dumb and badly costumed that they're not scary or even remotely interesting.
The main attraction for Toho movies are the Eiji Tsuburaya special effects. Unfortunately this was Tsuburaya's
last film as he was in failing health at the time, leaving it mostly to his assistants to come up with the effects
on their own. Owing mostly to master explosion-maker Teruyoshi Nakano the pyrotechnics are overall quite
excellent but the monster/suit effects are godawful--the worst of any Toho film ever! Even Megalon didn't have an
obvious zipper and costume seams! Even the monsters on Zone Fighter looked better! But most unforgivable
of all--there's just not enough action and excitement until the very rushed last 10 minutes of the movie.
Overall, Latitude Zero is a semi-interesting diversion for VTFs and worth seeing as a curiosity item.
Anyone expecting any more than that will be surely disappointed, and would be much better off sticking to some of
Toho's earlier sci fi flying submarine pics like The Mysterians or Atragon.
At least the music was good. It's the one thing about Latitude Zero which did--in fact--impress the hell
out of me.
Written in April 2008 by Michael Martinez and used with his permission.