There have been some unusual earthquakes happening. Professor Norton (C. Montague Shaw) has a machine that not only can detect earthquakes but can prevent them, provided he can get close enough to them. To do that he needs to take his rocket propelled submarine to the bottom of the ocean. Norton believes the disturbances are coming from the area where Atlantis used to be.
Norton leads an expedition to the earthquake area to investigate. On board are Crash Corrigan (Ray Corrigan), newspaper reporter Diana Compton (Lois Wilde), Briny Deep (Smiley Burnette), Joe (John Bradford), Salty (Frankie Marvin), and a stowaway in the form of Professor Norton’s son Billy (Lee Van Atta). The submarine dives to a depth that would crush a normal sub. Joe has a panic attack and tries to sabotage the submarine. Crash manages to get him under control when an earthquake happens. Professor Norton stops the quake with his devise.
Under the ocean is the kingdom of Atlantis. There is currently a battle being waged between Sharad (William Farnum), the rightful ruler of Atlantis and Unga Khan (Monte Blue). Unga Khan has visions of ruling Atlantis and destroying the upper world with his earthquake machine he calls the Disintegrator. When Professor Norton and his crew stop the earthquake it draws the attention of Unga Khan. Using a magnetic tractor beam the wanna be dictator forces the submarine down into Atlantis. The subs occupants find themselves in the middle of a civil war in the strange world of Atlantis.
“Undersea Kingdom” was released in 1936 and was directed by B. Reeves Eason and Joseph Kane. It is a Republic serial and the second of sixty-six serials made by Republic.
Much ado has been made about “Undersea Kingdom” being a rip off of either “Flash Gordon” or “The Phantom Empire”. This is all immaterial. That is what serials are. If someone had a good idea, it gets copied. That’s why we have sequels and re-makes and re-boots. That’s why every dinosaur movie is compared to “Jurassic Park”. Another complaint is the cheap production values. Again, that’s what serials do. The rocket man jet pack outfit from “King of the Rocket Men” 1949 was used in several movies as was the silly alien costume from “Purple Monster Strikes” 1945.
The serial is peppered with really cool toys and weapons. Besides the rocket propelled submarine there is the disintegrator, the invisible ray gun, a flying chariot called a Volplane and a really cool looking tank called a Juggernaught. There are Volkites which are garbage can robots, the precursor to cybermen. Also a transformer which brainwashes people and turns them into slaves. In addition Kahn has a machine he calls a Reflecto. It’s like a television set that shows him everything that is going on everywhere. All of these wonderful contraptions are operated by a control devise that one of Unga Khan’s henchmen wears around his neck. The devise looks a little like one of those change dispensers the good humor man use to have on his belt when you bought ice cream, only slightly bigger.
Atlantis itself is represented by a mix of customs and traditions, mostly ancient Greek and Roman. In addition to the cool toys are ancient weapons such as chariots, horses, bows and arrows, catapults and swords. And of course you know the good guys from the bad guys cause the good guys wear white and ride white horses while the bad guys wear black and ride black horses. The movie was a little on the silly side, but it was a whole lot a fun.
Ray “Crash” Corrigan gets to play something other than a gorilla. And Lon Chaney Jr. plays an Atlantian bad guy.
The compilation I found for the serial is missing chapter four. I have added it below.
CHAPTER TITLES: 1. Beneath The Ocean Floor; 2. Undersea Kingdom; 3. Arena of Death; 4. Revenge of The Volkites; 5. Prisoners of Atlantis; 6. Juggernaut Strikes; 7. Submarine Strikes; 8. Into The Metal Tower; 9. Death In The Air; 10. Atlantis Destroyed; 11. Flaming Death; 12. Ascent To The Upper world.