Creature from the Haunted Sea
What was the unspeakable secret of the sea?
Year of Release: 1961
Running Time: 75 minutes (1:15)
Director: Roger Corman
Antony Carbone ... Renzo Capetto
Betsy Jones-Moreland ... Mary-Belle Monahan
Robert Towne ... Sparks Moran / Agent XK150 / Narrator
Beach Dickerson ... Pete Peterson Jr.
Robert Bean ... Happy Jack Monahan
Esther Sandoval ... Rosina Perez
Sonia Noemi Gonzalez ... Mango Perez
Edmundo Rivera Alvarez ... Gen. Tostada
Blanquita Romero ... Carmelita Rodriguez
An American gangster agrees to transport a group of Caribbean island exiles and their national treasury to safe haven, with the intent of eliminating the exiles and keeping the money. Hoping to use the local legend of a sea monster as cover for killing off the soldiers, the gangster and his crew discover that the legend is true.
Creature from the Haunted Sea, remindin' us that you can lead a shag carpet monster to water, but you can't make 'em sink. Well, the Italians prolly could, but all we've got in this one're Mexicans pretendin' to be Cubans, so my point stands. Who in the name of Krakatoa's accursed crackhole could possibly find even the tiniest shred of redeeming value in this abomination? Sides all the hipsters that tell 'emselves the reason I think it sucks is cause I'm a rube that can't grasp the profound significance in a spoof of this magnitude. They actually stopped masturbatin' to Eraserhead for a minute just to insult me, it kinda hurt. Them, mostly, cause their pants were still down at the time an my coffee cup was still kinda wet from the dishwasher an... well, it's not really important. The short version is, I've been barred from attendin' anymore AV club meetins. Sides those weirdos though, who could possibly have any love for this celluloid cellulite? Evolutionary Biologists, an that's because scientists of all flavors, above all else, love the thrill of discovery. An what greater biological discovery's been made in the last 50 years that eclipses the Creature from the Haunted Sea? Nada. What we've got here is definitive, documentary evidence on film of the origins of the muppets. Like most life that now thrives on land, the muppets too emerged from the seas to claim their rightful place among the many denizens of the Earth. But for years now, it'd been assumed that the muppets originated on Sesame Street, an simply migrated to a less educational environment, but all that changed with this discovery, made by the illustrious Roger Corman, P.H.D. Yes, Roger Corman; businessman, discoverer, King of the Drive-In, an lets just tell it like it is, American patriot. Mr. Corman, for all you've done and continue to do, I salute you. Whatever else you wanna say about this one, there's no shortage of Corman sense factoids available to keep us all sharp, learned, alert, an downright dangerous, so lets run down a few that I found to be particularly indispensable. First, secret agents supplement their diets with a healthy intake of confidential information written on various types of paper. This not only serves to keep the secrets secure, but also to keep 'em regular. Second, there's someone out there for everyone. Even if you're the kinda guy who's had his brains scrambled worse'n Gary Busey that does most of his communicatin' via animal noises an would only truly be well utilized as an interpreter in Judge Wapner's Animal Court. An third, in case of emergency, your mackerel can be used as a smote-ation device.
But the thing that really got my attention in this one was the way this Ricky Retardo Cuban guy found out his wife was makin' the sign of the triple crested cassowary with Dr. Knewlittle an tried to sell his wife to the head gangster. For fifty bucks. Course, Ricky don't really know any better, an he's prolly got three more just like 'er back in the jungle, but this man knows nothing about the highly technical science of wife hockin'. I mean, would you buy a woman some guy tried to sell you for $50, as is, with no warranty? This woman's a lemon, an everybody knows she's a lemon. But she don't have to be, so I've put together a quick list of minor maintenance items an other tricks of the trade to help all you wife salesmen out there get the most for your trade-in. First thing you're gonna wanna do is check 'er bumper. Is it draggin'? It's draggin' ain't it? Bondo. If you haven't got Bondo, duct tape. The tape takes longer to apply, but you get the added bonus of a bikini wax when the buyer unwraps 'er. How about the headlights? They both pointin' the same direction? Prolly not. If they were, you wouldn't be tradin' 'er in. Move the bra clasps over to a tighter tier til they're perky. If that's still no help... right, more duct tape. Now check the grille. Any bugs in there? No bugs? Good. Still prolly aughta hose that chaw outta there though, it kinda turns off your wimpier men. How's the trunk? Fulla junk? The duct tape'll fix mosta that, but if she's got a spare tire in there you're gonna need a corset. If you can't find one or you're a cheap-o, wrap 'er in gauze til she looks like she's recouperatin' from a Bill Goldberg spear.
Once that's done, check 'er pressure. Anything saggin'? Nobody likes saggin'. Pressure good? Is she turnin' the color of David Carradine during private time? If so that's too much, loosen some things up a little. Sellin' your wife's one thing, but if you accidentally kill 'er the cops'll show up an YOU'LL end up bein' somebody's new wife. Lookin' a lot better ain't she? But we ain't done yet. Is she clean? If not, take 'er through the car wash. How about the carpet area? Any crabs? You can tell me, I'm here to help. Alright, see that vacuum over there? Right. But for the love of God do NOT prolapse 'er hoo-ha. If you do that you may as well take 'er to the salvage yard. She got any unsightly tattoos? Tramp stamp? Men don't like that, tells 'im the woman had a life before she met him, makes 'im feel insecure. Only two ways to deal with that; peel or conceal. Boy howdy, she's cleaned up right proper now ain't she? Lookin' pretty good. At this point you'll prolly even be thinkin' about keepin' 'er, but forget that cause by now she hates you with the fire of a thousand Texas barbeque pits an the first time you go to sleep she's gonna cut off your man-meat an feed it to you at gunpoint. Now there's a couple things you'll wanna keep in mind when hagglin' with potential buyers. First of all, do not let the buyer test drive 'er. This is critical. All that does is put more mileage on 'er, reduce 'er value, an take away all the mystery. If they insist on verifyin' that she still works, take 'er for a drive yourself since you should have a pretty good grasp on how she handles an can accentuate 'er positives an hide 'er negatives. Just keep in mind that she's gonna try killin' you if she ever had an ounce of self respect. That may not be the case since she was at one point willin' to marry a clod like yourself, but safety first. If they ask for a Bar-fax history report, give 'em 'er Dad's phone number. Dads always think their daughters're pure an too well bred to do anything kinky. So, provided you follow these simple guidelines for puttin' a little window dressin' on your fixer upper, I'm confident that you'll always get the maximum cash outta your clunker, an never again will you have to trudge home with a pitiful little pittance so small that it won't even get you drunk enough to forget what a train wreck your life's become.
The movie begins with Lames Bond gettin' a shoe shine an a secret code stuffed into his sock. Unfortunately, this draws the attention of these two Hasidic Jews who mistake 'im for the caterer that ruined their sons' Bar Mitzvahs with Veal Oscar an they end up chasin' 'im all over town tryin' to get their money back til Lames is able to climb up a fire escape an avoid detection. Once he's free, he pulls the note outta his sock, an once he's memorized the address, swallows the note. I don't envy the heartburn he's gonna have after that message self destructs. So he puts on a Mario Brothers mustache an heads over to this bar where he's supposed to meet 99 an orders a classy vintage wine to impress 'er, cept the only thing the bartender's got that's even remotely aged is a case of Old Milwaukee that he shelved an forgot about cause it fell on the floor an got all shook up. Then he gets another secret code from 99 an tells 'er not to watch 'im leave cause it'd look suspicious an cause he's real self conscious about his flat white hiney. Next thing, we're watchin' the Cuban Revolution as told by the animators of Rocky an Bullwinkle til we go back to live action where this group of Cuban Batista loyalists're bummin' a ride from some American gangsters. So then these military pallbearers haul what's left of the Cuban treasury (man this thing's heavy, how do Mario an Sonic do this every day?) over to the transport vehicle an they all head for the port after they chase this VW Bug down the road for awhile after spottin' an "I Heart Castro" bumper sticker on it. The next day, Lames does a voiceover to squeeze all the plot into 90 seconds so Roger Corman won't have to buy another film canister to hold an additional reel an gives us the rundown on the crew of the smugglin' vessel he's agreed to join so they won't have to leave port without a variation of Gilligan. We've got; Brenzo "the Italian Stallion" Capetto, "Bloody" Mary Monahan, Jack "Mom said you had to let me grift too" Monahan, an Pete "Dr. Knewlittle" Peterson, an once Brenzo gets all the Cubans peeled offa the workin' girls on the docks they set sail for epic fail. Unfortunately for the Cubans, Brenzo's got gold fever an he has his flunkies rig up some phony monster claws to use on a couple of their hitchhikers to scare 'em into thinkin' there's a sea monster so they can change course an go to the Bahamas an work on their tans. While that's goin' on, Lames is listenin' outside the door an fashions a transponder outta the lunch leftovers an radios back to 99 that he can't hear a damn thing through that board room door but that he just had a hankerin' to risk discovery for no reason. Then Dr. Knewlittle shows up an they split the radio.
Meanwhile, up on deck, General Garbonza starts flirtin' with Mary an askin' 'er things like "haf you ever bean weeth a main who's gloriaz beard geets know-ted een poobs doureen' seeks-di nine?" an "I show you Bay of Pigs een blanket", til it looks like Mary's about to demote 'im to Corpseral an the guy's handler has to get 'im the heck outta there. Then Lames shows up an starts tellin' 'er about how she's better'n this life an that he's got a 92 square foot studio apartment with no kitchen just waitin' for 'er back in Jersey an she gets this look on 'er face like she's startin' to miss the general. That night, Renzo instructs his flunkies an sets his monster mash into motion, only before his toadies can strangle one of the Cubans walkin' on deck Cookie Monster comes outta nowhere, hopped up on a brick of frozen cookie dough an turns the guy into Havana sausage links. The next day, Renzo (unaware that it wasn't his flunkies) tells Garbonza that this was clearly the work of a muppet, possibly a Snuffleupagus, an that they've gotta chart a new course into deeper waters so his trunk won't be long enough to keep 'im supplied with oxygen. Garbonza agrees, an so they start kickin' ideas around til somebody mentions Bali, an Lames (who's camped out by the door again) takes off to radio 99 an tells 'er they're headed to Bali an that he'd like for 'er to be waitin' there with the Chief an a Ganesha Avon figurine from the gift shop when they make landfall. Course, the moment he takes off Renzo says he ain't goin' to no stinkin' Bali an that they're goin' to Puerto Rico so he can finally get that pet iguana his Mom'd never let 'im have. Later on, the crew's up on deck when Renzo spots what looks to be either the Cuban Naval fleet or some Floridian marlin charter boat an Renzo tells everybody to be cool an act like they're not smugglin' the Cuban treasury. Mary, you sing; Lames, grab that piano an make like Dooley Wilson; I'll be Bogart, nobody'll suspect a thing. Unfortunately, they end up gettin' boarded by Che Guevara who's headed down to bullshit with Castro, an Lames has to waffle 'im with a mackerel til Dr. Knewlittle pulls out his AK-47 an quashes the revolution. Then Lames tells Mary she's the hottest bitch on this boat an that she won't even miss things like clean water an beaches not riddled with hypodermic needles if she'll just come back to Jersey with 'im til he's again shot down like a government drone over Deer Trail, Colorado.
So now Renzo huddles with Dr. Knewlittle an tells 'im he's gonna plow the boat into the Andros coral reef an once all the environmentalists go ape shit that'll be his cue to grab Jack an dump the booty overboard in all the confusion. Once the coast is clear (an trust me, you want it to be, the nude beaches in this area are infested with people that resemble alligator skin boots) Renzo runs the ship aground as planned an pretty quick all the Cubans start freakin' out an screamin' "women an Cubans first!" as they abandon ship an one of 'em ends up gettin' scarfed like a plate of Torticas de Moron by the Cookie Monster who's lurkin' just below the surface like a shag carpet submarine. Once everybody else clambers out onto dry land, Renzo tells all the Cubans that now he bes the master cause they're all illegal aliens here an that if they even think about stagin' a military coup on 'im he's gonna call the Arizona chapter of the Minutemen an have 'em all clubbed like seals in Saskatchewan. Then Dr. Knewlittle starts wanderin' the island doin' his wounded wildebeest impression til this overweight Puerto Rican puma (Rosina) steps outta the jungle an it's love at first grapple. So Knewlittle takes Bindy the jungle girl back to camp an by that time Jack's returned from Trader Jose's with some supplies an a Latino drag queen (Carmelita) an promises to take good care of 'er if Renzo'll let 'im keep 'er. Only Renzo's got bigger problems cause now Garbanza's handler walks up an tells 'im the Cubans're ready to go retrieve the treasure an Renzo gets this look on his face like he had no idea anybody darker than Erik Estrada could swim. So the great white dopes an the Cubans head out into the ocean an start lookin' for the booty, an once they find it they have to tell Bindy to put 'er moo-moo back on an keep it on before anybody suffers permanent retinal damage. Then everybody gets up on the edge of the boat an yells "Guantanamo!" as they plunge into the water an start searchin' for Davy Jones' Lockbox an Renzo's guys start shish-kabobin' the Cubans that stray too far from the herd so they can frame the Cookie Monster. After awhile they all head for shore an Carmelita ends up ditchin' Jack for Lames an makes 'im sad panda til Bindy takes 'im out into the jungle an hooks 'im up with 'er daughter (Mango) cause she just can't stand to see a pwnd man cry.
But just as Bindy's world's startin' to make sense 'er husband shows up an tells 'er she's gotta lotta 'splainin' to do an starts tryin' to club 'er an drag 'er back to the hut when Knewlittle shows up an hits Ricky Retardo with the Bull Charge an jostles the hell outta all the Puerto Rican rum in his tummy til he has no choice but to take off an find some Pepto Bismol. Then Knewlittle an Bindy go back over to where Jack an Mango're loungin' an Jack decides he wants to settle down here with Mango an open up a fruit stand. Knewlittle loves this idea; course, he also loves the obese, frumpy, middle aged woman he only met three hours ago, but he's In Like Flint anyhow an he an Jack decide they're gonna kill off the rest of the cast an snag the lockbox for themselves. Elsewhere, Renzo an what remains of the Cubans're headed back down for another splash for cache when Ricky shows up an tries hockin' Bindy for $50 an Renzo's so P.O.'d he has to restrain 'imself from boardin' Ricky's boat an beatin' the tar out of 'im for lettin' Bindy run around with concealed weapons without a permit. A short distance away, Knewlittle, Jack, Bindy an Mango're all havin' a good time, splashin' salt water in each other's eyes an gettin' third degree sunburns when the Cookie Monster shows up after another cookie dough bender an pulls Mango down like that kid's shorts on the Coppertone logo. Meanwhile, Renzo's finally found the box an bribes a couple sting rays to stand guard til he comes back, only when he gets back to the shore Jack shows up an accuses 'im of squeezin' his Mango. Renzo denies it, but everybody starts dog pilin' on 'em like a wimp on the playground durin' recess an he has to tell 'im he found the box so they'll put the pitchforks away an tell 'im that tomorrow they finish off the Cubans an grab the phat loots so they can head for Mexico an live like drug lords. Cutting here, an in case you're terribly disappointed, I've included a link below since it's in the public domain.
Lets get something that should be remarkably obvious out of the way to start with. This movie is parody. It's not serious, it doesn't take itself serious, and if you think it was trying to be serious, I can't take you serious. It's parody. And a parody that's spread pretty thin from satirizing so many different topics, including but not limited to; spy movies, gangster movies, political movies, and of course, the monster movie. I think that's abundantly clear to the majority of the people that watch it, at least. That said, I've read a few comments about it singing its praises and suggesting that, if you didn't like it, you don't get it. That it must've gone over your head or that you lack the sophistication to appreciate the variety of humor on display. Yeah... cause if you don't like something it *has* to be, that just're a lummox that can't follow it. You just lack the discerning eye that'd allow you to see its greatness. It's kinda like how the French love Jerry Lewis while we sit around trying to understand why, except for the part where they don't accuse us of being simpletons for disagreeing. Now, I like a lot of stuff that the average person would cringe, scoff, or outright laugh at. I think they're wrong about said stuff's production and entertainment value, but not for a moment do I think that they disagree because they're too stupid to "get it." This movie, simply put, is rotten. I wouldn't say that it's inept, as they did achieve what they were going for, rather it's just ineffective. Logic would dictate that even the studio realized this on some level when Corman and company didn't bother renewing the license to keep it out of the public domain. I've seen many of Corman's other movies from this era, and while many of them are pretty lackluster, this is by far the worst. Compare this to say, Little Shop of Horrors or Attack of the Giant Leeches and it's plain to see. Whatever else those movies may be, they definitely entertain, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, but Creature from the Haunted Sea just falls flat. The monster is really nothing more than an afterthought, just a small piece of this tapestry of parody, and so for me, it really doesn't even fit my genre interests. It's not horror/comedy, or even comedy/horror, it's comedy that happens to have a monster. You really can't even call it campy, because campy generally refers to unintentional humor, and none of the humor here is not deliberate. Credit for trying something a little different for sure, but this is one of the worst things I've ever seen, and I've watched Invasion of the Neptune Men four or five times.
Alright, everybody strap on your snorkels, we're goin' into the toilet. The plot, while boring to me personally, doesn't seem to have any debilitating problems when you look at it from the perspective of a spoof. It's pretty convoluted due to all the cliches and different genres it's trying to simultaneously poke fun at, but I suppose the fact that it is a spoof grants it some leeway that a serious movie wouldn't be afforded. The acting is adequate for what it is, and for the budget available, though the only character that's even remotely amusing is Antony Carbone whose character is written as a parody of Humphrey Bogart. Beach Dickerson is just ridiculous as the borderline retarded muscle that spends most of the movie openin' his mouth and havin' various Wild Kingdom soundbites come out. It's different and completely random, you've gotta give 'em that much, but as far as that gimmick adding value, not so much. Here's who matters and why: Antony Carbone (Pit and the Pendulum 1961, Last Woman on Earth, A Bucket of Blood 1959), Betsy Jones-Moreland (Last Woman on Earth, The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent), Robert Towne (The Zodiac Killer 1971, Last Woman on Earth), Beach Dickerson (Deadly Dreams, The Dunwich Horror, Teenage Caveman, War of the Satellites, Attack of the Crab Monsters), Kay Jennings (Beast from the Haunted Cave), Richard Sinatra (Beast from the Haunted Cave). Normal people may recognize Betsy Jones-Moreland as Judge Elinor Harrelson from the Perry Mason movies. Basically, the fact that it's average and not completely terrible would probably make the acting one of its better qualities.
The special effects... I dunno, what's the use in ragging on them? They're supposed to be silly. Badmouthing them for looking ridiculous when that's the entire point seems like a rather ignorant thing to do. The monster is probably the worst creature effect I can recall seeing, but when you consider that's the idea, does that then make it the best creature effect ever made? I dunno. Besides the Cookie Monster there really isn't anything in the way of special effects, though on the editing front it's got some really noticeable jump cuts that give it an air of unprofessionalism, which is not at all lessened by the fact that it's a spoof. I mean, you wouldn't consider that acceptable in Blazing Saddles or Spaceballs, right? The shooting locations are easily the best thing about the movie. Shot back to back with Last Woman on Earth, entirely on location in Puerto Rico, there's a lot of attractive scenery shots throughout the movie including beaches, jungles, and some decent underwater photography as well. Definitely the highlight of the movie. The soundtrack is, by design, silly. And as far as the content of the movie goes, I see no reason to call it bad, or inappropriate. It works perfectly in the context of a spoof, particularly Betsy Jones-Moreland singing "The Creature from the Haunted Sea" song in the same style as "As Time Goes By" in Casablanca, which was admittedly rather amusing. The rest of it's just dopey and rather cartoon like, which you'd think would be one of the first tip offs for anyone that was able to sit through the entire movie and still get the impression that anything about it was to be taken the least bit seriously. But overall, just because it's designed to be funny, doesn't make it good by default. Hipsters may try to tout it as a lost piece of satirical brilliance, but in reality, the only people that ever ought watch this are the connoisseurs of terrible cinema. They know it's bad, and that's why they like it. Not because they believe it to be good and simply misunderstood.