MasterChugs Theater: ‘Latitude Zero’

The movie reviews are back, and, oh, look what month it is. That’s right-we’re looking at March, which almost always results in taking a glance at the worst movies ever made. Coincidentally enough, my Dad and I tend to look out for each other in this regard-we’ll send each other a heads up on movies that are just horrible, or we’ll even just send each other the dvd’s themselves. One day, I received Latitude Zero in the mail from Pops.

Latitude Zero is not a good movie.

Latitude Zero is not even an enjoyable good movie. Thanks a lot, Dad. Jerk.

A massive underwater volcano erupts and puts a group of investigative scientists in danger. They are rescued by an atomic super submarine named The Alpha under the command of Captain McKenzie. The group is quickly taken to a vast underwater city known as Latitude Zero, a fantastic, Atlantean type utopia, a world beneath the ocean with its own sun. Why is it a utopia? Because men wear ascot-scarfs and women wear mini-skirt/bikini combos. It is soon discovered that Captain McKenzie is at war with the evil Dr. Malic, a cruel scientist who wishes to rule mankind all the while conducting genetic experiments on humans and animals. Malic sends his agents to kidnap Dr. Okada, a human scientist who has created a serum that can immunize exposure to radiation.

Latitude Zero is a movie of bizarre contrasts, often delirious, with Malic’s army of giant rats, literal bat-men, and a winged lion with a human brain; but also it seems very juvenile, as if the American producers could not leave behind Cesar Romero’s campy Batman baggage. At least it seems like a kid-friendly adventure movie until McKenzie’s aide-de-camp Dr. Barton shows up in another of her body-baring costumes. Not fish nor fowl, Latitude Zero was neither a critical nor a financial success, though those same problematic qualities… and some difficulties in seeing it due to rights issues… enabled it to establish something of a cult following.

That shouldn’t have happened.

The movie slows down in the dialogue sections because everything comes in threes. We see examples of three foreign scientists defecting when one would do, and after the volunteers take a bath that makes them ‘impervious’, we watch while all three patiently allow bullets to be fired at them, one at a time. If the movie seems overly complicated, it’s only because every bit of information is repeated at least three times.

Joseph Cotten, Cesar Romero, Patricia Medina and Richard Jaeckel must have formed a huddle and decided at what level to pitch their cartoon performances, and they’re all quite professional in their 1/2-dimensional roles. Romero and Medina try to play off one another as mad lovers to keep things from being boring, while Cotten poses thoughtfully and patiently answers every question requiring an expository answer (or three). The Japanese cast plays everything deadpan straight and come off as marginal figures.

It’s just boring. Sorry Dad. We don’t need this movie making its way back to me again.