“The Phantom of 10,000 Leagues” is practically unwatchable


Image courtesy of Wikimedia

This 1995 theatrical poster does the film about as much justice as it deserves.

Will Schneider, Reporter

Some people may classify this movie as a train wreck. I assure you that is not the case. This is less a wreck and is more like a slow, lurching, pathetic derailment that doesn’t even make it out of the train yard or topple the affected train car.

If you took the wreck and made it into an eighty minute endurance test, you get this. If you took ​“The Beach Girls and The Monster​,” chopped it up, put it into a blender, and fed it to a cat, you would still find something better in its litter box than ​“The Phantom of 10,000 Leagues,” a movie so bad it defies watchability and goes straight into a realm only looked into by the most dedicated bad movie survivalists.

Ostensibly, this movie is about a science experiment by Professor King that causes radioactive rock to burn passing boats and creates a sea monster who stalks the populace, with oceanographer Dr. Ted Stephens, agent William Grant, and obligatory love interest Lois King to defeat it, with the added twist of a soviet agent trying to break into Professor King’s lab to find out his secrets. In reality, this movie is like a cheap bootleg Twinkie- no substance, all filler.

This movie is mostly made up of boring dialogue scenes, each on more unendurable than the last. It is to the point where the monster is hardly in the movie, and feels less like a monster movie and more like a crappy spy movie interrupted by a rejected cut of ​“The Beach Girls and the Monster.”​

In fact, I think it appears less than six scenes throughout the film, and for about four minutes of total screen time. More time of the movie is dedicated to, oddly enough, as spy subplot, where a soviet agent tries to find Professor Kings secrets.

This sounds like an odd addition to a movie that is supposed to be about a radioactive man-fish, and it is, but more importantly, it adds nothing exciting to the movie. The scenes with the spy plot are as boring as the rest of the dialog scenes, which mostly consists of stilted romance scene, pseudo-science, and scenes of the characters taking the role of the audience-trying to make sense of this mess.

The characters, provided they have a character, are unlikeable, with the exception of the secretary Ethel, and that is only because she at least manages to bring ​some ​entertainment value via her delivery and arc. She is added after her some died trying to get some samples for King, so she tries to break into his lab to steal his secrets. It’s sort of interesting and could work in a better movie.

Everyone else is unlikeable. Professor King comes off as selfish due to him keeping the secrets he discovered to himself and refusing to stop his experiments even when he knows that he is getting people killed. Dr. Stevens seems to be more concerned with on-upping King or getting close to his daughter.

This is especially glaring in one scene where, after encountering the phantom, he finds her on the beach. While he does tell her there is danger, he fails to tell her it’s an emergency, doesn’t tell her there is a monster, and it’s not even the first thing he tells her. He is more concerned with flirting with her than telling her about the monster.

Said character Lois might as well not exist, and agent William Grant seems like he was plucked straight from an anti-communism PSA with the personality to match. There is very little redeemable about them.

Is the title creature any good? First off, as I mentioned earlier, it is hardly in the movie. But even ignoring that, it’s a disaster. It looks stupid, which is to be expected. This works a bit for the movies cheese factor, but what kills it is how little it actually does anything. It just floats around most of the time, and occasionally grabs people.

In the scenes where it tips boats, it looks like it just floated to the surface and bumped into the boat. It is so immobile and undeadly that I end up feeling sorry for the guy inside the monster suit. Simply put, the monster is not fun to watch or look at. Like the rest of the movie, it simply accomplishes nothing.

This is the movie to watch if you want to test your patience. It is not as entertaining as “Piranha,” its monster is not as amazing as ​“It Came from Beneath the Sea,” ​and its not a fun as “The Beach Girls and the Monster.”​ On almost every level one can’t recommend it.

Even its spy side plot, Ethel subplot, and goofy monster are not enough to even make it interestingly bad. While it does have a few cheesy moments, they are too few and far between to recommend this for most people.