Plot: As radioactive corpses begin to wash up on shore, local authorities are alarmed and a team is dispatched to handle the situation. Dr. Stevens (Kent Taylor) is brought in to look into the scientific aspects of the case, while Agent Grant (Rodney Bell) lends his detective skills. As the investigation begins, elsewhere Professor King (Michael Whalen) is hard to work on his research and given that it centers on radioactive deposit in the ocean, a connection becomes clear. As it turns out, King was experimenting with the strange deposit and how it might impact oceanic lifeforms, which results in a turtle mutating into a giant, hideous beast. The bodies that are swept onto the beaches are slain by this creature, so King tries to cover up the truth, the authorities want to discover King’s true intentions, and others surround the case, including a foreign operative with ambitious plans.
Entertainment Value: As much as I love b movie cheese, sometimes a hokey monster isn’t enough to make a picture work. In the case of The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, the monster is quite humorous and the narrative has some fun threads, but the pace is too slow and overall, the movie is too often just dull. All of the b movie elements seem to be in place, with the cheap special effects, science lingo, wooden performances, and inexplicable plot twists, but few of these traits really kick into high gear and we’re left with a forgettable ride. The best part of the story has to be the foreign spy, as it adds a femme fatale into the mix and shows signs of b movie gold, but she isn’t given the reins to take over. I also would have liked more surprises or at least mildly wild moments, as this one follows the typical monster movie path to the letter, which doesn’t help counter the often glacial pace. I like the ridiculous monster and spy side thread, but there’s not enough fun here to recommend the movie.
In these kind of b movie, some laughable performances can work wonders, but the cast here doesn’t deliver as expected. The turns are mediocre at best, but not bad or wild enough to entertain on that special b movie level. I would call most of the efforts here wooden, but not to the point of ridiculousness and that’s a shame, as the movie could use a jolt of unintentional humor. Helene Stanton plays the seductive spy and has the most memorable performance in the movie, but even then, her turn is restrained and doesn’t embrace the campiness of the material. Her character could have been a beacon of over the top presence, but instead, it is just a shade more interesting than the film’s other personalities. Kent Taylor and Rodney Bell have the typical good guy roles and again, aren’t bad or good enough to enhance the movie, the performances are just kind of there and unremarkable, for better or worse. The cast also includes Michael Whalen, Cathy Downs, and Phillip Pine.