Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 9, 2016


Martin Benson as General Chan Lu
BATTLE BENEATH THE EARTH (1967). Director: Montgomery Tully.

Commander Jonathan Shaw (Kerwin Mathews), and his old Korean War buddy, scientist Arnold Kramer (Peter Arne), discover that the Chinese have come up with a horrendously diabolical plot. Using laser drills on tank-like vehicles, they have burrowed tunnels under U. S. space centers, military bases, and large population areas, and plan on using atomic bombs to wipe out the whole country. A geologist, Tila Yung (Vivienne Ventura), helps the others discover the tunnel under the sea where the Chinese forces have made their way to America. Can they stop their plan in time? Battle Beneath the Earth somewhat reminds one of Crack in the World in that its interesting (if absurd) situation is undermined by a very low-budget, although there is one marvelous shot showing the sea pouring into the Chinese tunnel. Another highlight is a suspenseful business involving the disarming of a bomb. Mathews has little opportunity to display the derring do of, say, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, but Peter Arne offers a flavorful performance as Kramer, Ventura is very pretty, and Martin Benson [The Cosmic Monsters] steals the show as General Chan Lu, the leader of the assault. Robert Ayres [Black Widow] makes a very intense Admiral Hillebrand. This is like a TV production, and might have been enlivened by the appearance of some underground man-eating monsters, but no such luck. Montgomery Tully directed several thrillers, such as Strange Awakening; this was his last credit.

Verdict: In some ways it's like a poor man's James Bond. ** out of 4.

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