I had not seen Latitude Zero before. I am sure I would remember it. It's a 1969 Japanese film with some American actors. There were to be some American producers with some American money but they ran away, leaving Toho with commitments to Joseph Cotton, Ceasar Romero, Richard Jaeckel and Patricia Medina. Toho still made the movie, by cutting the effects budget. We saw the English version of the movie from the recent Tokyo Shock 2 dvd set. There is a Japanese version that is shorter by a bit. You can see some pictures here. It really needs to be seen to be appreciated. It's a mixed bag with all sorts of ideas tossed in one after the other. Kind of like 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea versus Master of the World, but with a more modern almost James Bond like touch, and griffins. Two Japanese science guys are joined by an American journalist, Jaeckel, in a diving device. They are lowered deep into the ocean and just as they touch down on the ocean floor an undersea volcano erupts. A wave of water hits them and snaps their life line. Knocked out, our heros, do not see who has come to their rescue. They wake up in a strange place. Turns out to be a 150 year old sub. Sure doesn't look it's age and neither does Joseph Cotton. He claims to be over 200 years old. He's part of a super secret group that has their own undersea city. I don't know if that's better than the usual underground lair of your super secret organization, being underwater and all, but it's quite the place. The group is collecting the smartest men and women to save and create new knowledge. Ceasar Romero is the bad guy. He has a secret island base, and a submarine with a murderous, shiny leather clad female captain, but no undersea dome with it's own fake sun. He's also a science guy, but an evil one who does brain transplants. He puts the brain of his sub pilot in the body of a lion, and using the wings from a condor, he turns that lion into a griffin. He's given it a solution that magically makes it grow larger in seconds. You can find a picture of it at one of those links above. He's also made man size bats and rats. This is probably where the effects budget cuts really stunk up the house the most. These are not great costumes, still they get the message across. The actors costumes are also in the seen to be believed catagory. It's a slow moving film and all this stuff takes ages to unfold. It seemed like a lot longer than the 108 minute run time. Hours longer. And who knows what happened at the end. Again, must be seen to be believed.
Faster paced but not much better was The Halfway House. Sperhauk found it in the clearance bin at Half Price Books for $1 minus the 20% off sale that was going on. It sounded promising. Troubled girls in a Catholic halfway house with Mary Woronov as Sister Cecelia. Some kind of monster from another dimension ripped off from H P Lovecraft. The reality was it wasn't much better or worse than the average crap they show on the SciFi channel. More boobies. Lot of boobies. Poor monster though. Written and Directed by Kenneth J Hall who created the long lived, and so-so, Puppet Master series and Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout video. These aren't recommendations, more like warnings. Mary, a raped nun with emotional issues, is keeping an old one in the basement of the halfway house. She's feeding it young nearly naked girls. I guess the monster likes to eat panties. Maybe it's like dental floss, get the bimbo out from between his fangs. Anyway, Mary has help from some creepy guy who likes to spy on the girls in the shower. He's got a peep holes. The Priest, while not knowing about the other's strange hobbies, is a spanker. He's always laying on the paddle. To bare bottoms. I tell you this guy doesn't miss a trick getting some nudity into the film. But tricks don't make a good movie. Lot of boobies though. It's debatable if there was 80 cents of movie value. Certainly 80 cents worth of boobies. I somehow don't think I would add it to my collection, maybe for 80 cents, certainly not for full retail.