British archaeologist Professor Aitken (Donald Bisset) and his son Charles (Peter Gilmore) hire Captain Daniels (Shane Rimmer) to take them to a particular area of the ocean so that they can use a diving bell designed by beefy engineer Greg Collinson (Doug McClure) to search for proof that the fabled city of Atlantis exists.
Greg, Charles and several members of the ship’s mutinous crew end up deep down in a vast undersea cavern system, where they discover the lost civilisation of the Atlanteans, who are actually Martians that arrived on Earth, via a comet, back in prehistoric times.
Written by Brian Hayles, who worked on numerous episodes of DOCTOR WHO, this period fantasy film has some quite interesting ideas hidden amongst the pulp-adventure action. The aliens, we discover, are influencing mankind, causing them to edge closer to devastating world wars in order to fast-track scientific advancement: one of the main characters (Gilmore) has visions of events that are yet to be, including marching Nazis, mass warfare, atomic bombs, and so on. A pretty cool scene.
There are some crude-but-nice matte paintings and the Atlantean warrior dudes in shiny helms that completely cover their faces look damn cool, but the main reason anyone tunes in to watch WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS is, let’s face it, to see the mutant monsters featured in the movie.
The swamp-dwelling mogdaan, a kind of huge, finned eel-creature, is my favourite beast, bursting up through the muddy waters to menace the heroes.
The lumpy-skinned, club-tailed, ankylosaur-like zaargs are also fun to watch as they attack one of the Atlantean cities.
The serpentine plesiosaur-type monster that menaces our heroes in the diving bell earlier in the story works better in close-up, when a full-scale model is used, rather than in long shot, where it looks rather unimposing.
There are some snapping fish too, that blast from the water to nibble at the escaping protagonists. These piscine predators are quite rubbery-looking, unfortunately, though there’s a briefly-seen, toothy critter that is also featured during the fish sequence: and that creature, though we only see its head, is rather more effective.
And, of course, there’s the giant octopus that makes several appearances in the film. It has a well-textured skin and ain’t half bad to look at, especially when it attacks the ship at the end of the movie, to retrieve a stolen artefact.
John Richardson supervised the visual effects, which boast some really quite decent miniature work, and Roger Dicken created the movie’s menagerie of monsters. Actually, you can be see Roger in the movie, playing one of the men defending the city’s ramparts during the zaarg assault!
Directed by Kevin Connor and produced by Connor and John Dark, WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS also stars Michael (LIFEFORCE) Gothard, Lea Brodie, Robert (ONE MILLION YEARS BC) Brown, John (WARLORDS OF THE 21ST CENTURY) Ratzenberger, Daniel (THE VAULT OF HORROR) Massey and Cyd (BRIGADOON) Charisse. This modestly budgeted flick may not be a fantasy-adventure classic, but the film is definitely one of the better examples of the 70’s series of John Dark/Kevin Connor lost world-style productions (all of which featured Doug McClure): the others were THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, AT THE EARTH’S CORE and THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT.
Here are some posters…
Some lobby cards…
VHS and DVD covers…
Some publicity shots featuring Lea Brodie and the octopus…
Finally, here’s some pre-production art created for the film…
Production designer Maurice George Carter produced watercolour concept art for WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS (in 1976).
Initially, it seems, a squid was going to attack the ship, rather than an octopus. But even after the squid was replaced with an octopus in the movie, this squid imagery was used in some of the artwork for various posters and VHS covers (including Tom Chantrell’s UK VHS cover painting).
This watercolour concept of an Aztec-style pyramid-temple ultimately never found its way into the final film, but it did find its way onto some of the poster artwork, including the Belgian poster…
2 thoughts on “Warlords of Atlantis (1978)”
don’t forget the awesome flying piranhas, this is my favorite movie of all time.
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It’s a fun flick