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DESTINATION INNER SPACE (1966)

"One thing I’m sure of, Doctor: that thing is not ‘primitive’. I’ll bet you it’s a lot smarter than both of us."

Director: Francis D. Lyon
Starring: Scott Brady, Mike Road, Gary Merrill, Sheree North, Wende Wagner
Screenplay: Arthur C. Pierce

Synopsis: Commander Wayne (Scott Brady) is ordered aboard the SeaLab, an underwater research facility, when its crew detects a strange object on its radar. Wayne and the SeaLab’s director, Dr LaSatier (Gary Merrill), agree that it is neither a whale nor a submarine. Two of the crew, engineer and diver Hugh Maddox (Mike Road) and photographer Sandy Welles (Wende Wagner) pursue the object and try to photograph it, but are forced back when their air runs out. Maddox clashes with Commander Wayne; both are bitter over an incident that occurred when they served on the same submarine. The object passes over the SeaLab: it is an enormous underwater vessel. Wayne and Maddox pursue it, and Sandy goes after them. The three penetrate the vessel, and Wayne is convinced that it is an alien craft. Sandy finds a strange cylindrical object which they take back to SeaLab. Rene Peron (Sheree North), the team’s marine biologist, finds that the cylinder is made of a porous material; she and LaSatier are convinced that it is organic. The cylinder expands enormously, then releases an alien creature, which attacks the crew before escaping. The alien begins to sabotage the SeaLab, cutting off its communication system, and then its air supply. The crew must find a way to defeat the creature before it is too late for all of them.

Comments: Yet another film where the military has to teach those dumb-ass scientists what’s what. It's lucky for humanity that tough-guy Commander Wayne is sent in to take control. From the moment he looks around the completely bare chamber in the mysterious vessel and announces "this craft looks extraterrestrial!" (presumably no-one on Earth would design anything so cheap and tacky), we know we’re in safe hands. He knows how to react to the first encounter of man and alien: "Are there any explosives?" For all the film’s speeches about the wonders and mysteries of the universe, no-one seems too interested in stopping Wayne from obliterating both alien and space-ship. Personally, I think that if a team of scientists captured the world’s first alien, they might put up just a tiny fight for its continued survival. (The capture itself is one of the film’s comic highlights. One minute, three people are having the crap beaten out of them by the creature out in the ocean, the next they’re tying it up inside the SeaLab. Very convincing.) Dr LaSatier makes token speeches about "studying it" and "trying to communicate with it", but when Commander Wayne responds, "Do you think the best way to win a war is to wait until the enemy drops a bomb on us?" (do I detect a subtle political allegory here?), he gives in with barely another word of protest. Of course, all of this might have been avoided if they hadn’t just left the alien lying around in the lobby after they caught it, but I guess a marine research facility wouldn’t have a holding tank or anything, would it? As for the creature itself, it’s rather gorgeous, looking like a cross between the Creature From The Black Lagoon and a Siamese fighting-fish; unfortunately, the clear outline of Ron Burke’s scuba tank kind of spoils the effect (not to mention the fact that it breathes out through its mouth!). Not surprisingly, it’s the best thing in the film, although viewers might get some entertainment out of details such as Wende Wagner’s darling little black-and-white checkered diving outfit; Scott Brady’s attempts to do up his belt (a man can only suck his gut in so far); and some of the stupidest character development ever committed to film. Having spent the first half of the movie attacking Commander Wayne for causing the deaths of several submarine crew members, Hugh Maddox suddenly breaks down and admits that he was responsible. At which, Sandy Welles announces that "now I think I could fall in love with you". (!!?? Yeah, well, whatever turns you on, I guess.) Not so amusing is that - in 1966! - the film’s characters include a comic relief Chinese cook who says things like "where Ho Lee gunna get fish?" and "you no like?" Is it any wonder I always cheer for the aliens?

Check out all the details of this movie on the IMDB