Though the fantasy flick “Beyond Atlantis” is too watered down to make a splash, it allowed future family-friendly B-movies to make waves.
One of the most polarizing subgenres of horror is B movies. Many love them for the schlock and over-the-top action they provide. Its detractors look down on it for the same reasons. Most will agree that, while there is a child-like quality to them, few are family-friendly.
Enter Beyond Atlantis.
The 1973 film is about a group of adventurers looking for sunken treasure. When they find the island the precious pearls are at, the crew also find inhabitants that may be from a fabled land. The people of the island seem willing to help at first but also have their own plans.
Beyond Atlantis answers the question, “Can you make a good B movie for the kiddos?” with a resounding “No!”
The film teases gore that it can never quite follow up on.
This makes a huge difference since there are no over-the-top moments to break the monotony.
It is clear the film originally had something else planned. Some scenes were obviously shot with nudity in mind. There are also some surprisingly graphic moments involving a pool of piranhas. There is even the staple of 1970s B cinema, the rape scene (albeit, with a different power dynamic and on the ocean floor.)
Beyond Atlantis tried to get around all of this at the insistence of star Patrick Wayne, who wanted a family-friendly picture. The end result is an already plodding movie becoming watered down. At times, it is as if the movie used its many long underwater scenes in place of more visceral action.
The film shows its full potential in the last half hour.
The long swimming sequences and nonsensical dialogue are replaced by a surprisingly violent gunfight and an underwater catfight. It is the kind of ridiculous action that could have made Beyond Atlantis a little more passable.
Everything culminates in a strange ending that simultaneously underscores everything about one character while contradicting the recent actions of others.
There is an irony to the ending that does not fit with the rest of Beyond Atlantis. If anything, it comes off as weak and uninspired.
While the film left no lasting impression, its DNA can be felt today in many of the low-budget fantasy and horror films found on streaming networks today. There is the attempt to be true to the genre while also doing so in a safe way that anyone can watch.
PG: Psycho Goreman is as close as a B movie can get to being safe for the whole family. Though it has an aesthetic that is very child-friendly, it is a hard R. It is a fantastic movie that is able to meld its differing influences without compromise. If PG tried to make itself more accessible to a younger crowd, it would have ended up weaker. Much like Beyond Atlantis.