Aficionados of 50's sci-fi either know Atomic Submarine like an old friend or will welcome it with open arms. From the strains of theremin music that permeate the opening credits to the stock footage that starts the film and the miniature models that represent the sub and its unearthly foe, it is representative of all that makes the genre beloved to its fans.
The voice of a radio announcer narrates the film, telling us all we really need to know and more: that submarines now navigate beneath the polar ice caps, providing a new thoroughfare for commerce. Mysteriously, some of these atomic-powered submarines have been destroyed or have vanished, and that the pride of the Navy, a sub called the Tiger Shark, must investigate. Eventually the Navy types and the tagalong scientists discover a saucer-shaped craft and its cyclopean alien pilot are the culprit. Viewers will discover exactly where The Simpsons creators got their inspiration for the one-eyed aliens Kang and Kodos, right down to the voices.
Because Dr. Freex has devoted an entire full-length review to the film, I won't tarry too long on the subject except to say that most of the dialogue is excellent, the effects more than passable for the 50's, and the final confrontation with the Cyclops is actually fairly creepy. Watch for an early cameo by minor screen vixen Joi Lansing and some wonderfully funny bit characters in the sub's crew.
This movie probably hasn't looked this good in years, and certainly not on videotape. Wherever this print came from, it's in very good condition and the only disappointment is some slight cropping at the top and sides (most of which is due to TV overscan). Still, it only really matters when trying to read the headline on the newspaper near the film's beginning. Sound is clear, if obviously limited by the recording techniques of the time. As with so many of these older films, this is the best copy you will ever lay your hands on. Sure, there are some hazy, unwatchable bits involving stock footage (presumably shot during World War II), but on the whole it looks great.
The 13th chapter of the movie is actually the theatrical trailer, this DVD's only extra. The trailer is, of course, not looking too great, but it's fun to hear that the film is an "exciting story of the future" involving a "dreadful unseen adversary." And if you can figure out what "Tomorrow's Fear Becomes Today's Adversary" means, please do let me know.
Chris Holland, 8/14/00