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Review Lords of the Deep (1989): Even for Roger Corman standards, pretty bad!

genre: science fiction, thriller, bad b movies

It's obvious to me that Roger Corman was trying to cash in on the hype surrounding underwater science fiction films like Leviathan, DeepStar Six and The Abyss. Lords of the Deep for the most part is similar to The Abyss in a Be Kind Rewind way. Let me explain. If for some reason you aren't familiar with that film. In Be Kind Rewind, two store clerks accidentally erase all the footage on their videotapes. In order to prevent a disaster from happening, they remake the films that were on the tapes with a cheap camera, a lot of ingenuity and creativity. Then rent the films to people as if it were the original works. Instead of the customers getting angry, they actually applaud the clerks since they had a lot of fun watching these homemade versions of famous works. You could say that Roger Corman is the godfather of homemade knock off films or the king of low budget exploitation films. However, this time Corman outdid himself since he went even lower with this one. 

I was very aware that this was going to be a low budget affair, so I was prepared for cheap special effects. Believe me, while there is plenty to make fun of, I didn't mind them. Still, I had hope that they would deviate from The Abyss and follow a darker and sinister route. I mean, the title Lords of the Deep could have been a word play on The Deep Ones ( which are creatures in the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft). Had they dared to go Lovecraftian, the film would have been instantly better. Best of all, they wouldn't actually have to show any creatures. Just shadows or glimpses. All that would have been needed was a proper build-up of tension and atmosphere and the implication of Cthulhu being involved. Unfortunately, it seems that everyone involved weren't really up for giving it their best except maybe the lead played by Priscilla Barnes. Her expressions are priceless. She is just seconds removed from laughing her ass off, but she realized that would only prolong matters, so she corrects them with immensely serious faces. The result is hilarious. At one point I had the suspicion she was supposed to act a little weirdly. In one scene, she gets covered by the alien slime she was researching. It wouldn't be out of the realm of possibilities for her to have been mind warped or mutated. To be fair to the cast though, they do approach the film seriously enough. But they can't hide the fact that they are part of a very low budget production and could and should have done better. Like the fellow in the image underneath. (You might recognize him from the Dirty Harry films.)

But to come up with such storytelling would have required effort. And for whatever reason this time that wasn't in the cards. Instead, we get one of the most ridiculous plot twists ever. The film ends with a message for people today. It's endearing, positive and surprisingly relevant. 

So is Lords of the Deep worth it? No, this isn't one of those enjoyable bad films. Sure there is enough to laugh about, but it just misses those elements that turn it into a real laugh riot. And for a film with low duration, it's incredibly slow. So avoid at all costs!

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