Creature From the Haunted Sea (1961)

Creature From the Haunted Sea (1961)

“As a trained espionage agent, I could tell that she was attracted to me.”

An American spy (Robert Towne) poses as a gangster to accompany a mobman (Anthony Carbone), a moll (Betsy Jones-Moreland), and two ditzy but loyal assistants (Beech Dickerson and Robert Bean) on a trip smuggling gold out of Castro-led Cuba. Carbone plots to get rid of the Cuban sailors by killing them and pretending it was done by a nefarious sea monster — not realizing such a monster actually exists and is putting all their lives at peril.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • At Sea
  • Cuba
  • Mutant Monsters
  • Roger Corman Films
  • Satires and Spoofs
  • Spies

This quickie-curiosity by the infamously frugal and industrious producer/director Roger Corman exists solely because Corman wanted to make use of available actors and sets after finishing two other films (Last Woman on Earth and Battle of Blood Island) in Puerto Rico. With Charles B. Griffith on hand to write the script, something at least marginally creative was bound to result, and the storyline does cohere — however, it goes off in countless tangential directions, always aiming for easy laughs, such as Dickerson’s propensity to make various animal noises; Carbone’s likeness to Humphrey Bogart:

… Towne’s dense delusion that Jones-Moreland is desperately in love with him:

… Dickerson and Bean’s silly romances with local women:

… and more, rather than genuine thrills. Jones-Moreland’s focused performance as the crew’s sociopathic beauty is the film’s highlight:

… while its lowlight is undoubtedly the “creature” itself: hard as this is to imagine, it really does seem to win a prize as one of the least convincing, most ridiculous Z-grade cinematic monsters ever created.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • The creative opening animation sequence (by Monte Hellman)

Must See?
No, though Corman fans will be curious to check it out. Listed as a Camp Classic in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Creature From the Haunted Sea (1961)

  1. First viewing. A once-must (with reservations), as a viable camp option.

    Charles B. Griffith’s script is actually ‘better’ than the one he did for ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ and more on a par (in a way) with ‘Not of This Earth’.

    I went into this maiden viewing with a bit of concern – it seemed quite cheesy, like lesser Corman work can be. Oddly though, I found myself laughing more than I thought – mainly since the cast appears to be in alignment with the script’s uniquely goofy tone, and they’re given some unexpectedly snappy lines and bits. It’s kind of like watching conscious heterosexual camp.

    Of course, the low-budget hurts – but if you let yourself get into the spirit of things, there are also some fun surprises. Given the lightness of it all, even the monster’s terrible costume is somehow…fitting.

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