Doug McClure descends to the Seven Cities of Atlantis in this cleverly written adventure. Cinema Club R2 DVD.
By 1978 Amicus was no more, the founders Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg had finally gone their seperate ways after At the Earth's Core (1976), and Rosenberg himself had handed over control of the company to production executive John Dark after The People that Time Forgot
(1977). However although the name was no longer present, John Dark and
director Kevin Connor still saw potential for profit by continuing
their line of fantasy adventure movies, this time with backing from
Columbia pictures they brought Doug McClure back for the last time in Warlords of Atlantis:
on a boat in the Atlantic ocean, near to Bermuda, two men are preparing
a diving bell. Charles Aitken a scientist and Greg Collinson (Doug
McClure) the engineer who designed and built it. As they are lowered
deep into the sea, they are attacked by a giant, pre-historic sea
creature - surviving this attack, the men spot a golden statue on the
sea floor and send it up to the ship. While Professor Aitken,
Charles' father, is thrilled to see it, the crew start to plot a way to
keep the valuable object for themselves, and shoot the Professor -
however, a giant octopus snatches the men from the deck, and pulls the
diving bell deep under the sea until the men awaken on a rocky
coastline. Accosted by mysterious guards, the men soon learn that they
are in Atlantis, the remains of an ancient alien civilisation, where
humans are kept as slaves to keep the city from the waves and the
horrible creatures that dwell outside the walls. Although seemingly a
pleasant situation, the men soon learn the horrible price of staying,
and make plans to escape...
With the change in management, this fourth fantasy film was no longer based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels that had serviced the previous films, Warlords of Altantis is an original script from screenwriter Brian Hayles who had previously worked on the BBC's sci-fi series Doomwatch and Doctor Who (the original writer of the Ice Warrior serial Seeds of Death
(1969)). Styled in a similar Victorian era adventure tone to the
Burroughs' novels, it is a surprisingly well written story and with
themes and ideas that would need a complete novel to do them
justice. The Bermuda Triangle is never openly mentioned in the film,
but is frequently eluded too, and although largely dismissed today, in
the 1970s was considered to be an exciting phenomenon and was the
subject of dozens of best selling books and movies.
As a film, Warlords
begins in typical adventure story fashion with the explorers beginning
on a seemingly unrelated quest before accidentally discovering the
city. Fortunately, enough time is given for the viewer to learn about
the characters before the main story begins - the lead characters are
rather typical, Aitken is very smart and Collison is more technically
minded and strong, however the mutinous and double-crossing crew are
more of a surprise and keep the audience on their toes throughout -
helping to give the film an unexpected conclusion. Pacing is rather
quick, and like At the Earth's Core,
there are dozens of interesting plot points brought up that are never
covered (What are the 6th and 7th Cities? Where actually are they, and
why is there daylight? Why are all the 'slaves' so happy?). The
addition of the rubber-suit monsters, although part of the course for a
Doug McClure adventure film, does seem rather unnecessary here, and if
anything distracts from the more interesting points that the film
raises, including the notion of a Metropolis
(1926) style culture, with the intellectual elite running the show,
with the power to control human destiny, themes that are given far too
brief screentime. Whether or not Brian Hayles had planned to explore
the themes further in another film will not be known as he sadly died
just a few months after the film was completed, while working on John
Dark's final fantasy project Arabian Adventure (1979).
Connor has improved his direction yet again and the production is the
best of the Doug McClure films. Effective use of matte paintings, and
some Maltan landscapes gives the film a real other-worldly feel, while
the full size octopus model that attacks the ship looks very effective
- the rear projection monsters are still not as good as stop-motion,
but are using sparingly here. The underwater shots of the diving bell
do look very nice as do the costumes, paticularly of the city's guards.
Mike Vickers again provides the soundtrack and gives a very strange
score in a lot of scenes, combined with some good orchestral music.
McClure is unlikely to win any acting awards, but has good screen
presence. There are no big names among the rest of the cast, but all
give decent turns, with Lea Brodie playing the boxom heroin.
Very cleverly written, although sadly limited by the film's 90 minute run-time, Warlords of Atlantis is boosted by good production and a decent set of performances. Not as fun as At the Earth's Core
(1976) but still an enjoyable film, and certainly the most thought
provoking of the series. Partly recommended to fantasy and Amicus fans.
Anyone famous in it?
Doug McClure - American television actor, and star of the controversial Western Shenandoah (1965)
Directed by anyone interesting?
Connor - a lesser known British director who filmed most of the Amicus
fantasy films, and is still working today, recently filming the
impressive Frankenstein(2004) mini-series.
Is it scary?
Some death scenes, but nothing violent.
Who is it for?
Partly recommended to Amicus and fantasy fans - a very well written film.
Original Aspect Ratio - 1.75:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour The
print is good with strong colours, minimal print damage and mild grain.
Original English audio - sound fine.
The disc includes:
Original Theatrical trailer.
Brief manual scrolling still photo gallery.
Brief text biographies for actors Doug McClure and Cyd Charisse, director Kevin Connor and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
as a single disc as detailed here, or the same disc is available as
part of the Doug McClure Collection boxset.
Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
Not available on DVD elsewhere (the US rights are held by Columbia pictures).
film is believed to be uncut. The print used is English language.
Very well scripted, although rather underdeveloped due to the brisk pacing, with good production. Partly recommended.
good looking and sounding DVD, and the only available version at the
moment. Light on extras, but probably unlikely to be bettered by a
future release, so worth picking up.