Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: The Incredible Petrified World

Synopsis: Four adventurers descend into the depths of the ocean when the cable on their underwater diving bell snaps. The rest of their expedition, believing them to be lost, abandons hope of finding them alive. Exiting the diving bell, the group finds themselves in a strange network of underwater caverns, as they search for a way back to the surface.

Review: When you think of 1950's sci-fi film, you generally think of something cheesy and scientifically unsound, but not being without a certain quaint charm and some unintentionally hilarious moments. "The Incredible Petrified World," however, will give you none of that, as the only charm it has is to bore you out of your ever-loving mind.

The basic premise of this snoozer of a story, has to do with a group of scientists who are looking to reach the hidden depths of the ocean, but end up in a strange world of undersea caves, deep below the surface, when their diving bell snaps from its cables. Now, they search for a way back to the surface world. Will they make it? Can they find the way? Is there one? Oh, the suspense is killing me...

Actually, the only thing that has any lethal power in this turkey of a film is the incredibly boring pace of the story, which has about as much suspense and tension as watching paint dry. There's just nothing here to engage you. Director Jerry Warren, who's name is synonymous with cheap craploa films, gives the viewers nothing to hold their interest. When you aren't laughing at the inane lack of scientific fact and premise (like how when they find an old man in the caves, he says he's been there for 14 years. But how was he able to tell time down in there?), you'll be bored into a coma with wooden acting and a plodding plot that goes nowhere fast. Even the cast seems to have absolutely no interest in this lame duck of a film. Veteran actors, John Carradine and Phyllis Coates (who's best known as Lois Lane on the 50's Superman t.v. show), are simply wasted in their roles. Carradine spends almost the entire movie standing around and looking worried, while Coates spends her time trying to be catty with the only other female present (played by Sheila Noonan), when she isn't fending off a clumsy attempt at rape by an old cave dweller (played by Maurice Bernard). There is simply no noteworthy performance at all, even if the script did give them something to work with.

The special effects are equally bland. The volcano eruption near the end of the film is a joke, as we never even see the volcano itself. You'd think Warren could have swiped some stock footage of one doing so. About the only bit of interest the film can muster is within the first few minutes after the opening credits, where we are treated to some stock footage of sea life, which is capped off with a pretty neat fight between an octopus and a shark. The film is strictly downhill from there, all the way to its obligatory Hollywood happy ending.

I can forgive a movie being bad. I can forgive it for being cheap and cheesy. I can even forgive it for being pandering. But I cannot forgive it for being boring, which exactly what this waste of celluloid is. The only things that are petrified in "The Incredible Petrified World" are the acting and sense of suspense. Avoid this dreck at all costs, unless you run out of sleeping pills.

Rating: 0 Stars (out of 4)

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