One of the cherished highlights of my youth was seeking out every kind of bad vintage science fiction movies. As the years went by, I had managed to locate just about every campy flick to feature a rubber-suited monster that was available on the rather limited home video market of the time. Today, the occasional sci-fi classick still finds itself being displayed on my television set. Usually, said film is a less-than-enduring but nevertheless unforgettable cult title like Robot Monster, Man Beast, or Plan 9 from Outer Space — which I have seen dozens of times before. But, every now and then, I am overjoyed to discover something that I never had the pleasure of agonizing over before.
Destination Inner Space is a gleefully dire moving picture from 1966 that takes place within the confines of a surprisingly spacious underwater laboratory. Here, scientists such as Sheree North, Gary Merrill, former Bulldog Drummond star John Howard, and an actor named Biff Elliot are working on, er, something secret, and the government has sent down big bad Scott Brady (who was something of a staple in low-budget sci-fi movies from the mid ‘60s) to alienate the women by leering at ‘em and intimidate the men-folk with his “I’m more of a man than you because…” insults.
Things change slightly, though, once an alien spacecraft enters the area and lands on the ocean floor not to terribly far away. Donning their wetsuits, several of the lab’s crew — most notably, the younger ones like Mike Road and Wende Wagner (who really fills out her polka-dotted swimsuit) — propel on over to investigate the inside of the craft, wherein they discover a big funky hot dog-looking kinda thing. Naturally, they take it back to the lab, only to discover it’s an organic life form that grows once exposed to heat. Hmm, hot dog, heat, growth: yup, we’ve achieved some banal sexual imagery here, kids.
The end result of this form’s growth, however, turns out to be an aquatic, webbed critter-thing that has no qualms with killing the lab’s lesser crew members — most of whom are so useless and doomed to die, that they wouldn’t even make it through the first five seconds of a Star Trek episode’s pre-credit sequence. And so, it’s man vs. underwater alien in a fight for survival in this crazy, silly mess from writer Arthur C. Pierce (Women of the Prehistoric Planet, The Human Duplicators) and director Francis D. Lyon (Cult of the Cobra), whose brother Earle, produced.
The film also features James Hong as a stereotypical Chinese cook, former western heavy Roy Barcroft, and The Creeping Terror’s William Thourlby in a bit part. The DVD of Destination Inner Space from Cheezy Flicks is a Full Frame transfer (which was more than likely mastered from a video source) and includes some classic drive-in intermission advertisements and promos for other Cheezy Flicks releases as extras.