I knew very little about THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE as the opening credits rolled. I was led to believe it was grade z rubbish with a cult following and it's very easy to see how this reputation came about
The film starts in the recognisable future where atomic submarines are used as vehicles of commerce and we're shown via some laughably unconvincing special effects of a submarine meeting its doom. Words fail me as to how bad the footage is as a toy submarine in a fish tank is destroyed and this stock footage is continually used throughout the film. It should also be noted that shipping mysteriously disappearing as the first stages of an alien invasion had been used as a premise for John Wyndhams watery masterpiece The Kraken Wakes from a few years earlier and you can't help thinking that TAS was heavily influenced by this intelligent apocalyptic classic
Unfortunately both director Spencer Gordon Bennet and screenwriter Orville H Hampton also seem to have been inspired by Ed Woood. Early into the film we're hit over the head by the most intrusive, melodramatic and badly written voice over possible. In screen writing classes you'll be informed that obvious voice over is poor voice over but the narrator goes well beyond bad by referring to things we never see happen on screen. For example we're told that the crew are apprehensive as they sail towards the North Pole which is strange considering most of the crew are unaware what their mission is and are under the impression that it's a routine mission and that problems involving irritation makes themselves felt amongst the crew which is not something that ever appears on screen. Note also the pythonesque map that shows lots of squiggly lines of the submarines route
When the sub gets to the bottom of the mystery that a flying saucer is responsible for the sinkings the story does pick up and shows some imagination on the part of the film makers. The basic set of the saucer interior is so effective simply down to the simplicity of the set and Bennet does manage to manage to bring an eerie other worldliness to the mis en scene. The alien itself might seem some what laughable resembling a cross between a penis and a sock puppet but its mission to either kill or kidnap the crew in order to experiment upon them does again mirror the aims of the aliens in The Kraken Wakes and despite the grade z production values these scenes are relatively chilling and one wonders why the rest of the movie couldn't reach this standard
All in all this is a very flawed SF adventure. It is very memorable but frequently for the wrong reasons which makes THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE one of the most uneven films you will see. It's very good in places but if you're not a fan of sci-fi B movies you'll not want to watch this but if you're a fan it's a pleasant time waster.
Review by Theo Robertson from the Internet Movie Database.