An undersea earthquake leads to the loss of an undersea lab. There is, however, no sign of the wreckage, and so it is presumed that the lab slid deep into a trench. In the faint hope that there might be survivors, the submersible Neptune descends into the depths, where it encounters all sorts of gigantic sealife.
In my review of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, I said it was the most idiotic sub movie out there. I stand by that, but The Neptune Factor keeps the…competition stiff. Though it makes an effort to maintain a certain degree of realism at the surface of the water, with actual ships and the like, once the Neptune reaches the far depths, the special effects consist primarily, from all available evidence, of a Fisher Price toy moving through aquariums at a pet store. Despite the fact that the magnified fish never give a convincing illusion of size (it doesn’t help that the grains of sand stubbornly indicate the actual scale), the film does achieve a certain lunatic nightmarishness, though at a very absurd level. And that’s about as generous as I can get. Characters are set up (the Resentful Employee Being Fired, the Claustrophobe Trapped in the Lab) only to be completely ignored for the remainder of the film. Walter Pidgeon shows up to look worried, and Ben Gazzara spends the entire film sneering. Many close-ups of his hand on a lever later, everything works out for the best. Yeesh.
The sound is in both stereo and mono, but there is precious little difference between the two, other than a somewhat richer sound on the part of the stereo. There is no surround, though. There is a little bit of buzz now and then on the dialogue, but nothing too severe. The music (which does its best to be majestic and awe-inspiring) sounds perfectly adequate, but no more.
The print is very fine, with grain, speckling or other damage. Edge enhancement isn’t an issue either. The image is sharp, and the colours are very strong, as are the contrasts, blacks and flesh tones. The TV featurette is showing its age, but the movie itself might as well have been released yesterday.
Of the recent batch of sub-related Cinema Classics, this one is the skimpiest on the extras. There are two isolated music tracks, one for Lalo Schifrin’s score, the other for the unused William McCauley music. The only featurette is a vintage piece of promotion. The teaser and theatrical trailer are accompanied by two TV spots. There are three galleries: production, advertizing and an interactive press book. The only real information about the film (which still tries to make it sound like a masterpiece) is the liner notes.
Rather dull, but saved from complete tedium by the are-you-kidding-me? nature of the monster FX.
Special Features List
- Isolated Score & FX Track by Lalo Schifrin
- Isolated Score Track by William McCauley
- Still Galleries
- Trailers and TV Spots
- Liner Notes