The Incredible Petrified World

Year 1957

John Carradine as   Prof. Millard Wyman
Robert Clarke as Craig Randall
Phyllis Coates as Dale Marshall
Maurice Bernard   as  Old Man in the Caverns  
Director - Jerry Warren
Screenwriter - John W. Steiner

A kindergartener's understanding of science by the writer mars what is, on the whole, not bad acting in a tale of a deep sea diving bell coming loose and stranding its occupants on the sea floor. Fortunately, there are some caverns filled with air nearby that provide them with a home away from home.

To start with the good stuff, there's John Carradine. I was surprised to see that his deep, distinctive voice comes from a man who seemed to be of less than NBA stature. I always remember him as being at least six foot four. In this movie, he looked lucky to top five ten.

Even though the acting throughout is mostly passable, when John Carradine is head and shoulders above the rest in acting ability if not height, well, that's not much of a recommendation.

I understand that wa-a-ay back in 1957, people weren't as enlightened as they are now. I mean that facetiously. But, if this were put in a time capsule and viewed at some future time with the understanding that it was based on scientific knowledge available in 1957, then the watchers' first thought would be, "Boy, were these people stupid. Mankind has progressed so far since then."

I got news for you, future people, this movie does not represent scientific knowledge of 1957. Even back in 1957, people knew that physics followed the same rules whether in space, on dry land, or "miles" below the ocean.

What am I going on about? Well, this diving bell (Diving bell? It looks more like an ovesized white beach ball.) breaks loose from its cabling. According to the movie, it can potentially fall "miles" as in five or ten. (Since they're diving off of the Florida Keys, I find this highly unlikely.) The average depth of the ocean is about 10,000 feet (about two miles) and it's deepest location is less than seven miles from surface to ground. I think that authors were confusing the depth of the earth's crust (up to 60 miles) with the depth of the ocean.

In the movie, at these miles deep, or 1,700 feet, or something, people can swim in wetsuits without a problem. La-ti-da, la-ti-da. No problem. In fact, air isn't completely necessary.

Jim Wyman: How long has he been without air?
Craig Randall: Only a few minutes. He'll be alright.
Jim: I'll get him some coffee.

Riff Randell is smarter than Craig Randall. And this is a magical healing power of coffee... I never imagined that it saved people after they were oxygen starved. Learn something new every day. It's the secret to staying young at heart (as in toddler).

It just gets dumber and dumber. I guess with a title like The Incredible Petrified World you've got to expect such physical license taken. I mean, it was incredible, as in, not believable in any way, so I guess the title didn't lie about that. But "petrified"? Doesn't that mean minerals taking on the shape of the original organism? I didn't see anything petrified in this movie. I saw Colossal Cave, where this thing was filmed, but I didn't see anything that look petrified. I saw a komodo dragon, because every B-movie either needs one of those or an iguana with a sail taped to its back, but it wasn't petrified either.

A komodo dragon? In a cave? At the bottom of the Caribbean Sea? How did it get there?

Or the crazy guy who lives in the caves. How did he get there? Oh, there's some nonsense about how his boat sunk, but even the characters in the movie didn't buy that one. This guy knew that he was there for fourteen years though. Without any way to tell time, I wonder how he knew?

No nudity, no blasphemy, no profanity. Even the deep, resonant tones of John Carradine don't make this one enticing.

Back to the simply bad or the main movie list.