THE CREATURE I
A radar and sonar signal at a tracking station presents a disturbance from 8000 feet off the island the rocket testing base is located on. Sergeant Frank Drubin (sorry, couldn't resist one Leslie Nielsen joke) aka the Captain of this base--Capt. Wayne Adams--believes it to be an underwater quake. The missile they are going to fire is okay. We hear an odd sound effect. Someone mentions radiation. Adams wants the missile to fire anyway. A new strange sound hits and rises in pitch. Thirty seconds before it is launched, the missile blows up, the roof of the base caves in.
Seaview theme as the sub is on the surface. Adams wants to know what went wrong as does Allied Command, who believe it may be a man made weapon. There is also some suspicion cast on Adams who thinks it may be something natural. Crane knows Adams is considered a genius but 20 men were lost on the island blast. Crane dives Seaview to 500 feet--Seaview theme again which it the flavor of being an ocean show. Commander Adams calls--there is a noise in the lab hydrophonic gear--he tells Crane to set course 215 in a pushy way and over the mike. Glancing at Chip--both thinking Adams is an arrogant nuisance, Crane asks what depth but Adams doesn't answer. Nelson wants them also looking for an ultrasonic sound device that might have interfered with the missile. Adams turns to Nelson when Lee and Nelson enter the lab, "Admiral. Oh and you too, Crane, c'min." Adams tells them the signal they are following is school of porpoises. Sonar tells Chip they are following porpoises. Crane says nothing much but his face tells it all. Adams figures they can rule the porpoises out. Washington DC asked Nelson to undertake this mission. Adams is arrogant and calls Crane a "school bus driver" using a comparison since Adams is always asking Nelson to give the sub orders to change course. In the Mess, Ski tells Pat and Patrick Culliton's crewman, "The Seaview following a herd of porpoises." He heard Adams may face a court martial, perhaps he was testing his ultrasonic flipper theory. Pat figures next they will track a school of tuna. Culliton says, "20 men died on that missile test site." Crane tells Adams via a mike, "Commander Adams, we lost the porpoises when they broke up and scattered." 4000 feet under the keel they get a something. Sonar bursts flashes. Something partly within the human hearing range and partly out of human hearing range. Adams comes into the Control Room and starts giving orders, ignoring Crane. Sparks calls to them but it is not Sparks voice--there is interference and static. The viewer shows the initial pattern but also gets static. Adams says, "We're blind." He wants to go outside and Crane tells him he will go with him. Adams says, "If you wish." Nelson tells Crane, "Be patient, Lee." Adams is under a lot of tension and strain. The sonic sound gets louder and breaks three glasses in the Mess Hall. Ski shows this to Capt. Crane. A light bulb on the wall blows. A sonic barrage is hitting. Lee wonders if this happened on the island--why didn't Adams stop the countdown. Adams tells him his continuing had nothing to do with the blast. The two swim outside. The audible part of the sounds is painful to their heads--Adams feels worse than Crane, who wants to go back. 10 to 20 thousand cycles per second. Nelson wonders what is causing it. Adams tells him it is what caused the disaster. Crane orders an emergency descent but Adams tells him no. They must have the source triangulated closer. Nelson will use the bathysphere. He wants coffee and goes down to the observation nose. He sees a giant devilfish--a giant manta ray near the Seaview. Lee is with Nelson and sees it too. It scraps the top of Seaview, which shakes.
Nelson tells Lee to hold on his wanting to surface. Adams joins them. Crane tells them both his responsibility is to the crew and the ship. He puts the men on battle readiness. Crane says of the creature, "It hasn't done any harm...YET." Adams records the sound it is making. Nelson calls the noise strange but the largest of these beautiful, graceful creatures are 20 feet and 3000 pounds. this is ten times that size. Mantas are usually harmless although a its supposed blood brothers---the manta shark will attack boats. Although known to produce grunts, barks, and even musical bell tones, a manta never produced a sound like this creature is. Adams says, "Well, the answer is obvious...it must be some new species." The manta ignores Seaview, slows down and settles on the bottom. Control Room personnel watch it on the TV screen. Seaview has neutral buoyancy. Bats use sonar and so do porpoises. The interference they received was from THE CREATURE. It senses and reacts to sonar. They see a smaller one--the younger of the giants. Adams asks for another trip out; Crane says, "I'll take the chance." They use a tranquilizer. When they go outside, the smaller one looks much too small. They bring it in through the Missile Room. In the lab tank, it regains consciousness and sends out its own signal. The giant responds to it--some kind of distress call. Nelson wants more facts. Adams tells him, "I want to kill that monster that destroyed that missiles and those men." Nelson wants to know about its effects on other missiles since every ship in the Navy carries missiles. Adams has a one track mind. Chip tells Crane the men are getting bugged by that thing out there. Crane says, "So am I--by the sheer size of it." The little one seems harmless enough. Crane wants Seaview ready to move out at any minute. The little creature and the larger one are not stirred up enough to use their weapons as potently as before--so Adams wants to arouse them both into attacking. Nelson tells the men to disarm every nuclear warhead on the ship since its beam is coming at Seaview. The manta hits Seaview dead on. Adams turned up the signal recording. Seaview shakes twice. The ballast tanks are cold. Nelson runs to Adams and tells him he will wind up in the brig. Crane tells them the vent steam is coming from the emergency valves. The sound waves are heating the water in the buoyancy tanks. Crane wants to get out of the area while they can. Nelson tells him they must balance the risks for knowledge. He accepted Adams' apology. Alone with Nelson, Crane insists on leaving--they are getting warnings, Adams ignored the risks -and Lee tells Nelson, "And we are too." In Crane's judgement there is nothing but danger here. Nelson tells Adams not to interfere with Crane's running of the ship. Nelson tells Adams to hold his tongue, when he comes in to the nose and snaps at Crane. Nelson tells Adams to do nothing to excite the creature. Since the manta uses ultrasonics on prey, they will follow it and observe it attacking its prey...which could take a long time...so Nelson advises Adams he better be patient. Later, Adams tests the smaller one by giving it food. The large one is near Seaview again. Control wires smoke and there may be fire Nelson is told by Pat. Nelson in the nose tells them to bring Seaview up. The manta hits the conning tower and downs Seaview to the bottom.
Nelson and Crane both want to release the smaller creature. Chip tells Adams if he has any objections, he better talk to Capt. Crane in the nose. Chip and Ski and other men come in and go behind the lab tank and carry the manta in a net to the escape hatch. They put it in the tube--why not let it out via the mini sub launcher area? Adams tries to get them to listen. Crane snaps, "We've listened to you too much, Mr. Adams." Adams tries to stop Ski from closing the hatch but Crane tells him this was the Admiral's idea and his own order. The Reactor is burning fuel. The Air Recirculating has trouble--oxygen is down, CO2 is up. Crane tells them to use emergency supplies. Nose: Adams goes to Nelson. NOTE: We a sign behind Adams which gives dates about the Seaview. Nelson tells him that they may have to destroy the creature before they get proof of his not having overlooked the signs of an accident. Nelson says, "Are you that far gone that you can't get that through your head." Seaview rises past weeds, sea growths, and rock without sonar. The manta is behind the sub. Nelson found out there is heavy weather topside. Crane tells Kelly on the hydrophone to keep vigil. There is nothing thus far. Crane tells Chip to take over. Adams turns on the sonic machine and blocks the door to the lab with a ladder. Nose: Crane and Nelson watch the manta. Nelson figures it is Adams with his recordings again. They find the lab blocked. Crane calls engineering for two cutting men and two electricians. Nelson tells Adams through the door, "I never thought you were responsible for the loss of life on the project." Adams says safety is not one of his own virtues. Crane tells the crew to overload the reactor and worry about fuel loss another day. Air Conditioning is on emergency full but the heat continues to go up! Crane wonders if they go topside and put the crew on life rafts. Nelson tells him they will lose some men in the heavy seas. Seaview shakes. The manta is above and on the side of them. Depth is 225 feet, then 300 feet. Crane orders all back full. They hold at 450. We hear a loud shaking sound effect as they shake some more. Drive shafts and props are jammed. Seaview goes down again with bubbles steaming out. The manta is over Seaview now and looks darker than before. Steam breaks in the Control Room and men are hurt. They are taken to Sickbay. The cutters are cutting a hole in the lab wall. One passes out from the heat. Crane takes him to Sickbay as the manta lands over Seaview.
Adams works in his T-shirt. The electrician is working on the wiring in the wall and it sparks. A cutter begins cutting the inner wall. Nelson has an idea about the ultra sonic barrage--maybe they can use their own ultra sonic beam that will drive the manta away. Crane quips, "If we can do half as much damage to him as he has to us--I'll be satisfied." Nelson tells Chip to order a sonic panel set up in the nose--disconnecting the dish antenna and putting triple leads to the hull. The manta hits the side by the conning tower. The cutter falls with the torch in his hand and is hit against the back wall. Crane looks up, "It's fighting mad!" The cutter is taken to Sickbay. Ski takes over to finish cutting the wall--ten more minutes. Nelson calls maneuvering for double voltage. Missile Storage Room is critical. Crane tells them not to flood it yet. The hull temperature drops slowly. The manta moves away. Crane calls Adams and then goes into the lab (via good stock music). He opens the door. Adams has all the proof he needs now. Nelson doesn't care--he's going to see that Adams go to prison for this MUTINY. A guard takes Adams to the brig. Nelson follows--there will be no vindication now (nice move Nelson, disturbing this nutcase even more)---Adams' judgement put them all at risk. Adams admits it--a calculated risk--he blames the creature and wants to kill it. He throws Nelson at the guard and runs off. Adams runs into Ski and hits him down. Nelson, Crane, and Ski follow Adams who locks himself in the Missile Room now. Nelson sends Ski through the vents. Adams suits up. He is in the diving tube when Nelson tells him they will torpedo the manta ray. Adams goes out with a device on his harpoon gun to make the thing follow him and to make it mad--a compact ultrasonic signal sender. A torpedo concussion now would kill Adams. Crane and Nelson suit up and follow him to save him. They have explosive devices on the end of the harpoons. They grab Adams and try to convince him to come back with them. Adams swims off, slipping free of their grip (good action music). Nelson and Crane fire their harpoons at the monster and it blows up. Nelson and Crane get the hurt Adams back to Seaview. Nose: Nelson and Lee learn (from an off screen Doc) that Adams is in Sickbay under heavy sedation. Doc informed them he will be okay. Nelson says, "Poor Adams," and realizes he was carrying around a heavy load of guilt. The smaller one is following Seaview around and they see it at the windows. Crane smiles, "You don't suppose it thinks the Seaview is its mother, do you?" Nelson says, "Why not? It's the only thing that's big enough." The two laugh.
REVIEW: Leslie Nielsen, nowadays known for his comedic roles, plays the tough but worried man who demands absolution for the death of many men. His tenacity is admirable but he uses a giant manta and its offspring---a truly wonderful array of fantastic effects sequences. The fight between Seaview and the mother manta is outstanding, even if the noise the creature makes is annoying. Somewhat reminiscent of GORGO and GAPPA, THE TRIPHIBIAN MONSTER in that a giant monster wants its baby back. At one point, the baby thinks the Seaview is its mother, something which was stolen by STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION when a space "whale" thinks the Enterprize is its mother. Why not--NEXT GENERATION stole lots from SPACE: 1999 and LOST IN SPACE, so why not VOYAGE!
The idea that they have to kill the monster is somewhat irritating but kill it they do and consider that it has no parent now, somewhat funny!!! Not very nice. This is also somewhat reminiscent of THE GHOST OF MOBY DICK with a man carrying around a heavy guilt and wanting to kill the giant beast that caused that guilt--even though they feel responsible. Was Adams really the cause of the disaster? Probably not whereas Walter Bryce in THE GHOST OF MOBY DICK was totally responsible for the death of his son and the loss of his yacht (and presumably crew?).
NOTE: Robert Lipton as "Radio Man" and Nigel McKeand as "Sonar".
MANTA NOTES: The statistics stated by Nelson and Adams about manta rays are true. They resemble sharks in having gill slits but under the pectoral fins. Eggs are fertilized and hatched inside the female.