Boopsy

Truly, genuinely awful as Creature from the Haunted Sea is as a film, there’s some credibility in a filmmaker mocking themselves, intentionally or not. Roger Corman directed this abysmally cheap monster comedy, but it’s fitted with a mish-mash of Corman’s previous work – monsters, gangsters, spies, and cheap politics. It mocks all of those genres.

At issue is Creature from the Haunted Sea simply isn’t funny. Even as cinematic surrealism, every joke takes eons to see to the end, and the least funny of them are dragged out to an abysmal, repetitive length. One of the simple-minded crooks can apparently make animal sounds with his mouth – even finds love as a result – but it’s less a joke than Corman happened to have stock effects on hand and needed a way to use them.

Corman failed with Creature from the Haunted Sea

The dismal plot mocks the Cuban Revolution and Castro, using a small group of Cuban soldiers as meat for the title menace. Of course, that menace is hilariously dopey. In other circumstances, it’s mildly funny to see a rubber-gloved, ping pong ball-eyed slop monster kill people. In this instance, that’s just Corman approving whatever is in front of the camera regardless.

It’s all incredibly ‘60s, from the opening title animation (the best part of this hour-long disaster) to the painful slang dialog and screechy score. That’s something in a movie offering nothing, just a mere curiosity that represented a changing film landscape with zero artistic credibility.

Corman failed with Creature from the Haunted Sea like too many others, trying, desperately, to create camp value. It’s simply not possible – camp happens by accident, and comedy happens through timing or precision, meaning Creature from the Haunted Sea is neither. Rather, this ranks among the worst creature features ever made, but as long as it made a buck (and it did), Corman was happy. Who can blame him?

Video

Opening with a note about the restoration, including the 35mm print that served as a basis with 16mm edits spliced in to cover damaged elements, Creature from the Haunted Sea looks as good as it likely can. The 35mm segments show reasonable resolution. Much of the film is shot so quickly, focus drifts in and out, but that’s not an issue with the restoration. Around 30-minutes (for 10-minutes or so), the image begins to wobble and stretch, which isn’t subtle but likely unfixable if the film stock is so severely warped.

Grain holds firm with moments that appear heavily restored with a digital tinge (some waters do appear oily). That’s minor, and many shots/scenes look completely unaffected. What texture can escape (at its peak), it looks spectacular. Damage comes and goes but it’s incredibly controlled.

Well calibrated gray scale provides excellent, rich contrast and dense black levels. It’s consistent. The encode works hard to hold grain in check, even at its thickest from the 16mm footage.

Audio

Thanks to the clarity in this DTS-HD mono track, it’s easy to pick up on lines recorded live on set and those dubbed after the fact (most of them, it seems). Everything is clean, muffled as much as Creature from the Haunted Sea’s age would demand, which isn’t much. The cheap, screeching score features clean treble.

Extras

Tom Weaver hosts a commentary with Roger Corman, Kinta Zertuche, and Larry Blamire. Film Masters also includes the theatrical and longer 4:3 ratio TV version, along with a restored trailer and before/after restoration comparison.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Creature from the Haunted Sea
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Campy and completely failed as a comedy, Creature from the Haunted Sea is a special kind of bizarre.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 26 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:


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