There are times when I wonder about the different movies that The Criterion Collection chooses for release. That was the case with 1959’s The Atomic Submarine. Why, I wondered, this particular 50s sci-fi film over some of the more popular and/or better known films?
Obviously, one factor is availability, but that can’t be the only reason, since there are plenty of other features they could have chosen that are just as readily accessible. Nor, really does it seem to be any particular innovator as far as special effects work goes, using a combination of at times extremely obvious miniatures, puppetry, stock footage, etc.
Still, even with that said, the picture, which I just finished watching a bit ago, proves itself to be a surprisingly good little thriller, with a different take on the alien invasion genre. There are actually some gorier than one might expect death scenes, some innovative ideas, and some timely commentary that do set it apart from the run of the mill and make the movie one of those “more than the sum of its parts” films.
Is this one of those movies that falls into the “overlooked gems” category? Well, I suppose that depends on how much you enjoy these 50s sci-fi flicks in the first place. If you’re a fan of the genre, then I certainly recommend it, and if you’re not, well, it’s not the kind of thing that’s going to make you a convert, but still, there are worse ways you could spend an hour and twenty or so.
As far as why Criterion chose it for inclusion, well, I can’t really say, but since I probably wouldn’t have bothered with it if they hadn’t, I’m glad they did. And maybe that’s reason enough.
Here’s the trailer: