Creature from the Haunted Sea
I’m not sure what comes to mind for you when you think about a monster from a B-movie circa the 1950s or 60s. You probably think of a rubber suit with bug eyes and a visible zipper in the back. The monster in Creature from the Haunted Sea succeeds in being worse than that vision. The titular creature has tennis balls for eyes, pipe cleaners for claws, and what looks like moss and crape paper for skin. I have a friend who said it doesn’t make her laugh, but come on. Look at it. It’s clearly giggle-worthy.
Unlike most monster movies, Creature from the Haunted Sea is purposefully comedic. It’s a spoof on bad monster movies made by one of the masters of bad monster movies, Roger Corman. The plot is bizarre, but simple. Renzo Capetto, owner of a casino on Cuba, is helping a group of Cuban revolutionaries steal some gold from the Cuban treasury. With his crew, the Cuban revolutionaries, and the undercover Agent XK150, alias Sparks Moran, he sails his boat to Puerto Rico where they may split the money and part ways. Capetto has other plans, however, and makes up a story about a sea monster, one similar to a Cuban legend, and tries to kill off the Cubans one by one to seize the treasure for him and for his cronies. Little does he know, there really is a monster and it’s coming for him.
What makes the film amusing are the antics of Capetto’s crew and the inept Sparks. One of the crew members, Pete Peterson, likes to imitate animal sounds. Periodically Pete opens his mouth and a stock animal sound or roar issues from his mouth. When they get to an island off the coast of Cuba, Pete falls in love with a native, who also makes stock animal calls. Sparks tries hard to be a good spy, but he spends most of the film trying to convince Capetto’s girlfriend Maribel Monahan that she should run away with him. Cue sarcastic responses and a good punch in the face. The few times he’s not unsuccessfully wooing Monahan, he’s trying to keep in contact with his fellow agent XK20, who translates his messages with a decoder ring. To message her, he once makes a radio out of paper clips and hotdogs and another time he finds a pay phone in middle of nowhere on the Puerto Rican island, only to find two people in line behind him. And of course, we can’t forget the bug-eyed monster that kind of limply hugs people to death and lumbers on board the boat to attack everyone at the end of the film.
Some of the humor also comes from jokes hidden in Spanish. The two head revolutionaries are General Tostada, as in General Toast or Toasted, and Colonel Cabeza Grande, as in Colonel Big Head. The island they sail to is called Isla Borracho, which means Drunken Isle. These are fairly simple and silly, but there are also some lost in translation jokes. For instance, Monahan insults the general, who does not understand English, so Colonel Grande translates her words into fawning praise for the general. Another instance comes on Isla Borracho when Jack meets Mango, yes her name is Mango, and she explains to him in Spanish that she’s pretending to like him because it’s a come on for the tourists. He doesn’t understand Spanish, but he interprets this as an affirmation of her love for him. Sadly, my Spanish is quite rusty, so I wasn’t able to catch any other jokes in the untranslated Spanish dialogue.
Although the film amused me and the monster is among the worst I’ve seen, I’m afraid the film does not rank high among the spoofs I’ve seen. Mel Brooks’s movies and almost any spoof Leslie Nielsen appeared in are among my favorites, but more importantly, I’d recommend The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra for a spoof of bad 50s/60s movies; in fact, I’ll be reviewing that at a later time. Still, it’s a silly movie with a cheesy monster and since it’s in the public domain, you ought to watch on Youtube when you get the chance.