The Atomic Submarine (1959)

A cyclopean horror from space!
A cyclopean horror from space!

The loss of a submarine and other ships in the Arctic near the North Pole causes much international concern. It is decided to send the atomic submarine Tigershark on a mission to find out what is causing the disasters.

Half sheet poster
Half sheet poster

The crew of the Tigershark, which includes the sub’s captain Dan Wendover (Dick Foran) and Lieutenant commander Richard Holloway (Arthur Franz), plus scientist Dr. Carl Neilson (Brett Halsey), eventually discover a UFO lurking beneath the sea… controlled by its extraterrestrial, one-eyed occupant!

The UFO!
The UFO!

This low budget flick, directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet, has stilted narration, obvious use of stock footage, plus some of the most unrealistic, tiny submarine models ever committed to film… and yet… I really like how the movie suddenly becomes darker and more atmospheric once the crew get into the undersea saucer.

A teeny-tiny submarine model!
A teeny-tiny submarine model!
Another look at the astoundingly small, unrealistic submarine model!
Another look at the astoundingly small, unrealistic model submarine!

In this more impressive latter section of the film we see characters getting their skin melted by light beams and another guy dying when he’s caught in a closing saucer door. The interior of the craft is impressionistic, with lots of totally black backgrounds (due to budget constraints, I’m sure), which adds to the darker tone of these scenes. The ‘Electro-Sonic’ score is also a plus.

A crew member has his face melted off!
A crew member has his face melted off!
 A sizzling arm
A sizzling arm
The impressionistic saucer set
The impressionistic saucer set

THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE boasts a very cool-looking alien: it is a large, cyclopean, tentacled, telepathic Lovecraftian creature!

The tentacled alien, seen from behind
I love the look of this one-eyed extraterrestrial!
I love the look of this one-eyed extraterrestrial!
At one point the alien gets shot in the eye: cue lots of goo!
At one point the alien gets shot in the eye: cue lots of goo!

Scriptwriter Orville H. Hampton (who also wrote THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE and JACK THE GIANT KILLER) and Irving Block & Jack Rabin (who worked on the story) came up with one particularly cool idea: which is that the saucer is organic and able to seal-up the hole made by the atomic sub ramming into it.
It is a shame, then, that the makers just didn’t have enough money to properly convey this aspect of the story.

Insert poster
Insert poster
Alien tentacles!
Alien tentacles!
Some nice lighting
Some nice lighting

At the end of the movie the saucer breaks through the sea ice… and you can see the stick that the saucer model is attached to! But who cares? The film’s central plot (atomic sub hunting down undersea saucer in the Arctic) is pretty damn good.

Lobby card
Lobby card

The movie has a marvellous, action-packed poster too!

Awesome poster!
Awesome poster!

Finally, here’s an illustration of the alien by Jamie Chase…

Who are you lookin' at?!
Who are you lookin’ at?!

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