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The Undersea Kingdom

USA 1936
produced by
Nat Levine for Republic Pictures
directed by B. Reeves Eason, Joseph Kane
starring Ray 'Crash' Corrigan (= Ray Corrigan), Lois Wilde, Monte Blue, William Farnum, Raymond Hatton, Boothe Howard, C. Montague Shaw, Lee Van Atta, Smiley Burnette, Frankie Marvin, Lon Chaney jr, Lane Chandler, Jack Mullhall, John Bradford, Lloyd Whitlock, Eddie Parker
screenplay by John Rathmell, Maurice Geraghty, Oliver Drake, based on a story by Tracy Knight, John Rathmell, special effects by Jack Coyle, Ellis Thackery, Howard Lydecker, Theodore Lydecker, music by Arthur Kay

serial

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A series of earthquakes threaten civilisation as we know it, but professor Norton (C.Montague Shaw) is convinced he can stop them when he goes far enough down in his rocket propelled submarine & uses his earthquake neutralizer. Far beyond sea level though, he & the motley crew he has taken with him, - including Navy officer & sports ace Crash Corrigan, female reporter Diana (Lois Wilde) & the professor's grandson Billy (Lee Van Atta) find no natural cause for the earthquakes but the lost civilisation of Atlantis, where evil ruler Unga Khan (Monte Blue) wants to cause enough chaos on the surface to smoothly take over or destory the upper world - even though he can't even manage to conquer the neighbouring village.

In the professor, Unga Khan thinks to have found the perfect ally, since the professor has the knowledge to build him a rocket-motor to fly his tower above sea level (really), & so, with the help of his mind machine, Unga Khan forces his will on the professor. While the professor works on the evil urusper's rocket though, his associates flee & take refuge in the neighbouring village reigned by benevolent Sharad (William Farnum) who soon puts his army under Crash's command, as a thanks for saving his life. In a series of more & more daring attempts, Crash & company try to both keep Unga Khan from getting his rocket & save the professor from the evil man's clutches - attempts spoilt by the professor though thanks to Unga Khan's mindmachine. In the end everything culminates in Unga Khan having Sharad's village bombed (which Sharad doesn't survive) before he starts his rocket, though with Crash aboard & the professor finally being freed from the influence of his mind machine again. When Sharad's rocket breaks the outer hull of the undersea-kingdom of Atlantis, thus flooding the realm, the rest of the professor's gang can save themselves only thanks to his submarine, taking them to surface level, where tha Navy, thanks to an SOS from Crash, is already in position, & bombs the emerging tower, while Crash & the professor can escape using one of Unga Khan's flying machines.

Lon Chaney jr, by the way, plays Unga Khan's leader of the Black Guards, (weak) comic relief is provided by Smiley Burnette & Frankie Marvin as Crash's friends, who do not otherwise feature prominently in the storyline though (actually they are captured as early as episode 2 & do not interact with any of the lead characters until the last chapter).

 


One of the truly great & archetypical serials of the 30's, as this one mixes legendary Atlantis, flying machines, horse-chariots, robots (looking like elaborate dustbins), uniforms resembling those of ancient Rome, futuristic tanks, swordspklay & rayguns with an endearing carelessness to a highly entertaining if stupid romp. This was the 3rd time in a row that producer Nat Levine made a serial with a Lost City/Ancient Civilization plot (after Phantom Empire & Darkest Africa) & it did seem that the emergence from Mascot into Republic couldn't have gone much smoother (Phantom Empire was his last official Mascot-serial, while Darkest Africa was begun at Mascot but finished & distributed under the Republic-banner), as the star of Phantom Empire, Gene Autry, would become one of Republic's earliest & biggest cowboy-stars, while its basic plot as well as some of its scenes (e.g. the launching of the missiles), sceneries (e.g. the stables of the guards' horses) as well as its comic sidekick (Smiley Burnette) were reused in Undersea Kingdom. History however would take another turn for Levine, as he, before the end of the decade, would be bought out of Republic.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
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Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
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directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD