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Bonus Reviews: Monster from the Ocean Floor (1954) and Bloody Mama (1970)
Horror Bulletin Bonus for Week 180
For this week’s bonus films, we’ll look two more horror films. We'll start with "Monster from the Ocean Floor" from 1954, and then follow that up with the more-gangster-than-horror "Bloody Mama" from 1970.
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Monster from the Ocean Floor (1954)
Directed by Wyatt Ordung
Written by Bill Danch
Stars Anne Kimbell, Stuart Wade, Dick Pinner
Run Time: 1 Hour, 4 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s pretty dated in every way, but the underwater photography is pretty well done. The story is decent and moves well. The creature is rubbery, but the acting is good.
Narration tells us about Pacific Islands and the natives’ strange stories. Stories that have never been disproved…
Julie Blair talks to a little Mexican boy who says a sea monster killed his father. She tells him to be realistic, there’s nothing bigger than a lobster down there. The little boy says she’s wrong. Of course, she almost immediately decides to go for a swim. She runs into… a man in a miniature submarine. He’s Steve Dunning, a marine biologist.
Steve invites her to come out to the research boat. He pulls her along with his submarine on the surface. He pedals the thing, and a propeller pushes it along. At the boat, she meets Dr. Baldwin and Tommy, who is the entire crew. They show her microscopic organisms. The two scientists believe that time is running out for the human race; unless they find some new food sources soon, humanity is doomed. There’s lots of science talk about growing food in the seas.
Suddenly, a boat pulls up with the pilot screaming for help. Steve goes down deep in his mini-sub and finds only the empty suit of the missing diver! What happened to him? Julie expresses concern as she and Steve go to dinner that evening. Something in the water here is terrorizing the locals, and she wants to do something about it.
The next day, the two start diving and looking for a shark or whatever the so-called “sea monster” is. She soon runs into a giant octopus. It doesn’t do anything, but she’s afraid of it. Steve laughs it off. Octopii are harmless cowards.
Joe, a local, explains that around 1946, reports of the sea monster started. He tells her to go see Pablo, who has lived here all his life. He proclaims that nature does many strange things. Once, he saw strange tracks made by some shapeless thing; something bigger than a house. Once he saw a huge creature in the water that only had one eye. That night there was a full moon. Julie next talks to an old woman whose dog vanished recently, the padlocked collar was left behind. There was nothing left but heavy tracks in the sand.
Evening falls, and Julie notices that the moon is full. She tells Steve what Jose told her. It could be that the underwater nuclear tests in 1946 started something. Steve tells her that pretty girls should worry about such things. Dr. Baldwin says their funding has gone through so they can leave in the morning for their next study location. Julie is staying behind to continue looking into the creature. As soon as he leaves, she’s scared by a cow and faints. As she sleeps, a glowing monstrous half-octopus thing rises out of the water and eats the cow.
The old woman talks to Pablo and says that the fairest must be sacrificed so the monster will be satisfied; that’d be Julie. She wants him to sacrifice Julie. She tells him to feed Julie to the sharks tomorrow. Julie wakes up in the morning and looks around; the cow is gone. Pablo tells Julie where to dive to see the monster. He dips his wounded hand in the water so the blood will call a shark. Before long, a shark arrives, but Julie gets away.
Steve and Dr. Baldwin discuss Julie and her obsession with the monster. Is it possibly real? Baldwin tells his own story about running into a giant flying reptile that came from the ocean. He even found one of its eggs.
Julie asks to borrow Pablo’s boat, and he says fine, but then he sabotages her air supply. He let out too much, however, and she notices right away. She struggles hard to pull up the anchor, like something had a hold of it. She sends Steve a sample of what was on the line. He puts some under the microscope and finds that it eats meat, dissolves it. They high-tail it back to Julie’s place.
Julie gets Padlo to row her out to a spot. He pulls his knife and thinks better of it. “I cannot do it.” He tells her all about the sacrifice, but she goes down again anyway. Steve’s propeller gets jammed, and he jumps in to clear it. Something down there is watching him. Julie spots the creature, and it spots her right back. Steve arrives just as Julie runs out of air. He rams it right in the eye with his mini-sub and then rescues Julie.
Steve admits that Julie was right all the time. They kiss- happy ending.
Producer Roger Corman also appears uncredited as the character "Tommy." He was 25 years old at the time. The little mini-sub is cool, but I doubt something like that would be very practical– I assume he was pedaling the thing. This was done the same year as “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” It’s nowhere near as good as that classic, but it does have a lot of underwater photography, which was still a fairly new invention. It was predictable and by now, cliche, but it was entertaining enough, especially if you like old-time underwater photography, as there’s a lot of it here.
The creature is pretty lame, but definitely not Corman’s worst work.
Bloody Mama (1970)
Directed by Roger Corman
Written by Robert Thorn, Don Peters
Stars Shelley Winters, Don Stroud, Pat Hingle, Diane Varsi
Run Time: 1 Hour, 3o Minutes
A girl runs through the woods as three boys chase her. The two boys hold her down while her father rapes her. “I’m gonna have me some boys that would kill for me,” she says afterwards. “That’s what you call family!” Credits roll.
“Takin’ a bath every Saturday is too much,” whines Lloyd. Herman, Lloyd, Arthur, and Fred don’t care for bath day. The sheriff comes by to talk about what Herman and Lloyd did to the Turner girl. “Ma” Kate Barker says they were only there to steal a pie, but he says they broke Suzie Turner’s arm. She’s very defensive of her boys. She disciplines them for being with that girl later on; they could catch diseases and stuff. Later, Herman steals the sheriff’s car so they can leave town. They leave the boys’ father, George, behind because he has no ambition.
On the ferry across the river, they rob the ferryman and Herman kills the passenger behind them. Mama says that Herman had “one of his bad moments” afterward. Then they all sing to get over it.
Herman’s in love with a prostitute, and she mentions she’s dreamt about a diamond ring. The family then robs a jewelry store. Of course, Mama ends up with a diamond broach.
Later, they rob a fundraiser, and Herman gets knocked out while Fred gets caught. While in lockup, Fred meets Kevin Dirkman, and tells how Herman likes to kill people. Fred’s a little more peaceful, and Kevin takes advantage. Herman, on the other hand, goes to prison, and he’s soon top dog.
Mama wants to hire a smart, slick lawyer to get the boys off. Lloyd likes to sniff airplane glue, and Art is a little flaky too. They need money for a lawyer, so Ma decides this time, she’ll go along. The three of them rob a bank. They drive away, using bank customers as human shields. They buy the other two boys out of jail, and the prostitute, Mona, and Kevin Dirkson come along as well. Herman still says he wants to marry Mona, but in the meantime, he’ll share.
Lloyd runs into a girl named Rembrandt at the lake. He’s on heroin, and she loses interest really fast. Before long, Mama finds Rembrandt tied to the bed. Mama tells Herman they need to kill the girl. Herman wants to kill Lloyd as well, but she doesn’t like that idea. Mona hears a song on the radio, “Murderin’ Ma from Arkansas.” Mama drowns Rembrandt in the bathtub, and they dump her body in the lake. That night, Mama wants to sleep with Kevin, but Freddy wants to sleep with Kevin instead.
The boys rob more banks, it’s a regular spree. Mama hears about Sam Pendlebury, a respectable man worth three million bucks! They knock him out and kidnap him. Mona says they need to get a doctor for him, or he’ll die. They want a $300,000 ransom. They bring in a blindfolded doctor to fix up Sam.
Sam finally wakes up, and he’s not very cooperative; he doesn't want to be called “Buddy” and makes a stink about it. Sam’s wife calls in the Feds, and Mama isn’t happy about that. Sam says his wife is a better cook than Mama is. Mona tells Herman that she’s pregnant.
Mama wants to make love to Sam, but he’s all tied up. They finally get the money, but Mama wants to kill Sam anyway; the boys don’t really want to do it. Later, Herman says they didn’t kill Sam; he’s not dead. They let him go and just shot the gun to fool her. Mama slaps Herman, and Herman slaps her back. He’s tired of doing everything she says. They pack up the cars and move on.
They get a new place, and there’s a big gator out there somewhere. Herman wants to go gator hunting, and Lloyd has started taking a little too much heroin. Nobody listens to poor old Mama anymore. Lloyd ODs and dies. Herman and Dirk go off and kill the gator with a machine gun. Old Moses, the watchman, calls the police about the machine gun and the stolen pig.
Mona leaves Herman to go to Miami. The G-Men arrive and surround the house. Ma starts shooting with her Tommy gun, and the men outside return fire. Before long, everyone gets involved in the shootout. Dirkson runs out yelling “I’m not a Barker!” and Mama shoots him in the back. Freddy almost decides to shoot Mama, but instead runs outside and gets shot too.
Art gets one in the forehead, so Mama goes down and tells Herman the news. Herman kills himself, leaving her alone. The cops finally get a lucky shot and kill her as well.
It moves fast, the characters are interesting, and the acting is mostly fine. It’s got an early appearance by Robert DeNiro as Lloyd Barker. It’s pretty violent for a film made in 1970, but it’s fairly tame by today’s standards. Overall, if you like semi-historical gangster films, this one is pretty good, with a lot more action than most.
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