Review of Warlords of Atlantis (1978)

Moving picture, 96 minutes

Seen in 2023.

In 1896, explorers bring a submersible to the waters off Bermuda.

A significantly better film than Kevin Connor’s previous At the Earth’s Core (1976). This one tries to tell a story where the puppet monsters and glorious mattes make some sense. The nuts and bolts of that story are a series of hackneyed myths: The Bermuda Triangle, Plato’s Atlantis, and Erich von Däniken’s ancient alien astronauts guiding the development of human civilization.

You could also call it a myth that lower-class members of the British crew would immediately conspire to murder the rest when they see gold, but on the other hand, the Atlanteans almost manage to seduce the upper-class British hero with a vision of the future they are guiding humankind towards. That vision is the Third Reich. That’s a fun twist, implying that the stratification and scientific progressivism of Victorian society and the British Empire are Nazi-compatible and therefore evil, which is a reasonable symbolic conclusion. I like to think that the monsters are like those of Forbidden Planet (1956): “monsters from the Id”, brought forth by the obvious tensions in slave-holding and fragile psychic Atlantean society. There’s no more depth to this matinée, but there are some neat little touches, like Charles putting on his glasses to look at Delphine for the first time, and then quickly putting them away again when a fist fight breaks out.

References here: Atlantis Interceptors (1983).

moving picture fiction