Beyond Atlantis, I don't get you...

I know we’ve got a whole huge thread to discuss the MST3K episode and the livestream and all but I want to stop and talk about the movie itself.

I think this is the first MST3K movie where I just don’t understand what anyone is actually trying to do. Well, almost anyone.

Usually, even if it’s poorly written and acted and everything, I can piece together the intent behind it. The motives. The narrative thread. But this movie is just… I don’t even know.

East Eddie is a local crime lord who just saw his first major success, having killed the previous local crime lord and taken his place. He’s young and ambitious, and all he wants to do is expand his power (turf, wealth, influence, etc.) no matter whom he has to exploit or kill to make it happen. Okay. I get that. Fairly boilerplate, but it makes sense.

Logan is… a guy who lives on this unnamed island. Just a broke nobody trying to get somewhere. All he cares about is money, and he’ll do anything to grab more for himself no matter what. He’s not even one-dimensional. He’s a single point.

Dr. Vernon is a science lady who doesn’t actually have a specific field of study and is also sexy. She’s not an archaeologist or an anthropologist. More of a historian, maybe? She has this old mask in the museum’s collection that came from the Minoan era of Crete’s history, and she wants to know what happened to the tribe that made it. Except she pretty much does know what happened to them. But also she thinks they might be from Atlantis even though they’re Minoans from Crete. Anyway, the mask is made with pearls and she overheard these guys talking about pearls so there must be a connection! Even though it’s 3000 years later and they’re on a different island and pearls are all made from oyster secretions. Anyway, she only speaks English. But somehow she’s able to translate Eddie’s words from English into Slow English so the islander can tell them where to find the right Manuel. Her job is museum curator, but her self-described life’s work is to find the tribe and learn about them and she’s made no progress at all until she happens to overhear Logan’s meeting with Vic. But once she actually meets the tribe, they want nothing to do with outsiders. So she gives up after trying twice, and then agrees to blow up their temple for some reason. Also, due to Movie Law, she falls in love with Vic even though they’ve basically got nothing in common and have known each other for like two days.

Vic is a guy who owns a boat. He’d like more money, but he has his limits and a modicum of morality. He’s Our Hero, but he doesn’t actually do much of anything. Still, being Our Hero, the women are compelled to instantly fall in love with him. Then again, given their other options, you can almost see why they’d settle for him.

Manuel is a fisherman who ferries supplies out to the tribe and gets paid in pearls. Despite having done this repeatedly, he doesn’t actually know what pearls are worth. Whatever. He’ll take whatever he can get in life, as long as it’s not too much trouble.

The tribe are… Uhm… Well, they’re apparently maybe possibly the descendants of Atlantis? But at no point is that confirmed, and at no point are we given any information about the fate of Atlantis, how the tribe came to this island, what their connection is to the pearls, or why they do literally anything that they do. They’re very good swimmers. And most of them have weird bug eyes for some reason. The tribe is highly inbred. Mostly because they kill all outsiders. (Except for Eddie’s crew, who are allowed to come to the island and take all the pearls.) But they have guest huts for some reason. Which are a safe zone (except when they’re trapped with a pit trap that was apparently dug overnight in utter silence and then filled with bloodthirsty crabs). At no point do we learn why they don’t accept outsiders or what it is they don’t want outsiders to see, learn, or take.

The island is… somewhere. Crete is in the Mediterranean but the movie was filmed in the Philippines, which are on the edge of the Pacific ocean, clear on the other side of Asia. Most of the water is safe to swim in, but they have one pond of fish which definitely are not piranhas (because those are native to South America) but will devour any animal in a matter of seconds. The fish are called “cannibal fish” because even though they don’t eat each other they do eat people. Apparently, a lot of the Filipino Greek islanders are named Manuel.

Nereus is the king of the tribe. Or whatever title they use. He’s the last man with human eyes. But he says that the tribe are no longer the same species as humans. But they are able to breed with humans and they look and act human except for the eyes and the fact that they can stay underwater for an unspecified length of time even though they don’t have any kind of gills or anything. Probably they’re just pearl divers who can hold their breath a long time? Anyway, Nereus is played by George Nader, who was also in Robot Monster and The Million Eyes of Sumuru, so welcome to the MST3K Hat Trick Club.

Syrene is the daughter of Nereus and the only woman with human eyes. Her job is to breed with an outsider so as to get some fresh material in the gene pool. She’d rather run away from it all, but Vic doesn’t want to marry her on their first date and she’s not interested in Eddie, Logan, or Manuel. Can’t really blame her there. But her dad says she has to have sex with one of them that week. Which I guess means that he’s aware that she’s ovulating? And he expects her to get pregnant on the first try and carry the baby to term and that one baby will be enough to repopulate the tribe even though they don’t seem to have kids? So she lures Vic to the bottom of the ocean and then kisses him right on the SCUBA mask while the others throw a net around them. Vic gets the bends or something. The doc thinks maybe Syrene is a Greek Siren, who were monsters who appeared to be women, who used magical song to lure men to their deaths women who could make men feel euphoria and then black out. Apparently, the islanders have sex underwater for some reason, and I guess she got pregnant from their first try? But it’s not actually ever mentioned. Because Patrick Wayne insisted that the film be PG (which is also why there’s no swearing, very little gore, and no topless scenes, despite being a Filipino exploitation film). But apparently implied rape was okay.

So… Eddie’s crew could come to the island and collect pearls and leave as long as one of them had sex with Syrene (a condition they were not made aware of). And apparently pearls like that don’t grow anywhere else. But instead of taking a good haul back home, selling it off, and then coming back next year to harvest more, they were overcome by single-mided greed. The whole reason the pearls are valuable is that they’re extremely rare, but these guys are just going to flood the market with an entire suitcase of them in one go.

The tribe desperately need to expand the gene pool. But they don’t want anything to do with outsiders. Syrene is allowed to go with Manuel to get the supplies, and thus can meet any number of men on that island. But she has to choose from the guys who came to the island to plunder it. Because she absolutely has to have a baby this year no matter what. For some reason. The tribe will kill anyone who invades except these guys. And also their only weapons are big pointy sticks that they use as crude spears, they have no defenses whatsoever, and they have no strategy to deal with guns. The island’s sole source of income is from the pearls, but they don’t do anything to actually protect those. Nigel from Spinal Tap put more thought into the Druids than the writers put into this tribe.

With Syrene’s death… Uhm… I don’t know. Is it just that Nereus is depressed and grieving? Or is it that she was the only fertile woman the tribe had left? Are all the bug-eyed ones (including the men)infertile? Nereus only cares about getting some outside genetic material without allowing the outsider to interact with the tribe in any other way, and he doesn’t care what means are used to make that happen. So it seems like they could have used just about anyone.

Nothing about this makes any sense. I can’t even really put a plot together. Manuel sells the pearls to Eddie, but Eddie doesn’t bother finding anything out about Manuel or how to find him. So instead he gets Logan to recruit Vic, but Logan doesn’t know how to be subtle about it so Katherine joins them. And they all go to the island. But none of them can make sense of what the tribe is doing because nothing the tribe does makes sense and we’re never given a reason for it. So they blow up the temple and kill the princess and leave with all the pearls, but of course they’re all so greedy that they end up throwing the pearls overboard and everyone laughs.

There’s supposed to be a romance, but there isn’t. There’s supposed to be action, but there isn’t. There’s supposed to be a plot, but there isn’t. There’s supposed to be some level of characterization, but there isn’t.

I just… what is even happening here?

I can’t even formulate this into a sensible post. I just end up with as much of a confused, disjointed ramble as the movie itself.

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If there’s any sort of theme between these last three movies, it’s incoherence.

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And in the last two, racism.

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I’m used to racism and incoherence. Like I said, though, usually I can find some thread of underlying reason or intent.

El Santo isn’t that different from, say, Batman. Except that he’s a Mexican wrestler instead of an American costumed adventurer. There are plot holes and silly things and whatnot. But there is an actual plot. A century ago, Dracula seduced a bunch of women and turned them into vampires, but ultimately was staked and buried. Now he’s been released and Santo has to defeat him and save his girlfriend (who is the reincarnation of Dracula’s intended queen). It holds up. It has a plot and characters and its own internal logic.

Robot Wars has the implicit anti-Asian racism. But I could make sense of the plot by putting together the pieces and clues.

Heck, I even made sense of Fu Manchu, despite all its flaws.

Up until now, I’ve been able to explain the intended plot of pretty much every movie the show has featured.

But I can’t even figure out where to start with this one.

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Ah, well, you see, if you step right over here I’ll explain it. Just around the corner here to my crab pit!

Legs it

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Ooo, you got me there! I won’t be crabby about it. But did you have to act so shellfishly?

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lmao at “Slow English”
:rofl:

Yup, the movie made no sense, but it was just the right combination of insanity to produce the Mothercrabber rap, and for that I am thankful.

:crab: :pray: :pray: :pray:

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Mothercrabber rap was indeed excellent. And the riffs were solid throughout.

But really. We had a whole scene where Eddie, who not only lives on the island (or the next one over) but makes his living as a waterfront crime lord that everyone knows, is unable to talk to a local fisherman. Even though everyone speaks English, including the isolationist Atlantean tribe. (And it bugs me that at no point does the tribe have a name.) So the scientist whose life work was studying the local tribes and culture has to translate for him. But all she can do is repeat his words, except more slowly. Like every caricature of American tourists. Except it actually works perfectly. Apparently the guy speaks Slow English. Go figure.

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Beyond Atlantis is the wind baby.

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Wait, you were looking for coherent plots, sane motivations, good acting, or even basic logic in a movie being riffed by the MST3K crew?

May I introduce you to the previous 12 seasons of MST3K as an example of why that’s not going to happen.

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I can’t wait to get home this evening and see this. I have read every spoiler—whatever. It appears they will make no difference at all.

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Well, except you’ll miss the surprise where that thing happens you knew about in advance.

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I was going to make this comment.

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Here’s my theory: Manuel orchestrated the whole thing. He planted the idea of getting the pearls with greedy idiot Eddie, then followed him and waited for him and his crew to collect the pearls, so that he could swoop in and steal them. It’s possible that since Manuel is known to the tribe, he also convinced them to allow these mooks to land on the island, perhaps by suggesting (promising?) to Nereus that one of the men would mate with his daughter. (This does not excuse Nereus from springing the whole mating thing on his daughter and pressuring her into it, though. Hmph!)

The ending still belongs in the all-time WTF Hall of Fame. But I think if Manuel is the puppetmaster, it does make slightly more sense.

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Except your synopsis pretty much covers it, and more coherently than the movie does.

I suspect the thing that throws you are the whiplash tonal shifts and incomprehensible characterizations. It’s supposed to be “family friendly” and then an Islander tosses a lamb into a pool of “cannibal fish”. East Eddie is supposed to be a nasty gangster but then is the only guy not trying to double-cross everyone else. I can’t tell Vic from…uh…Rick? Dick? Bic? Seriously, I could tell Ken from Ken from Ken in Fugitive Alien, but those two mothercrabbers are indistinguishable.

I think I’m not making my case here.

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Not that I doubt it, but I laughed out loud when someone said in another thread that this movie was intended to be family-friendly. It’s a movie about a bunch of skeezebuckets betraying each other out of sheer greed! It’s more like a gangster movie than an adventure movie. But that does explain why there even is a hero and a love interest, which are otherwise out of place and shoehorned in.

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I don’t feel like it is a synopsis? It’s more a statement of random confusing details that don’t actually connect to each other. Eddie is the only character who makes any sense and has any depth. Katherine is the only one with ethics. And then stuff happens except nothing much really happens and the only motives are greed, curiosity, and whatever the heck Nereus thinks he’s doing.

Katherine is introduced to us as a Sexy Lady In A Nightclub, and Logan thinks he’s going to score with her. Except, pysch! She’s actually a Very Serious Scientist with no romantic interest in him. Comedy! But then, after wandering around in the sun wearing a succession of halter tops, she decides that she’s suddenly in love with Vic for no reason. And so they go on their first date, having sex in the ocean. Which seems like it would be rather uncomfortable and inconvenient, what with the salt water and the seasickness and the tendency of loose clothing to float away and whatnot. But it doesn’t matter because it’s never mentioned again and really was only there so Syrene could see them and be jealous. And that’s the whole romance plot.

There’s no plot line at all. It’s just dots that don’t really connect.

As for the two 70s white guys… They do look very similar and there’s almost no characterization. But they do have distinct characters, as much as anyone has a character in this movie.

Logan is pure greed. All he wants is money and more money. And he doesn’t even have ambitions for it. The best thing he can think to do with a pile of cash is to buy a rooster so he can hopefully make more money by having it fight. Whenever anyone says “Maybe we have enough for now,” he’s the one who pushes for them to get more. And when they have all they can take and are ready to flee the island, he goes to grab the funeral net.

Vic is a half-decent guy. He’s Our Hero. He’s played by John Wayne’s son, who is the reason this movie even attempts to be PG. He wants money, too. And he wants Katherine. He’s the one who tries to limit the others’ greed. He owns a boat. He’s a good diver. He’s happy to settle for a decent life of chartering tourists around and living on a tropical island. Hopefully with Katherine. Syrene approaches him because she wants to escape the island to have a life of comfort, freedom, and civilization. Even though it means abandoning her tribe and any hope they have of surviving. She’ll do anything if he promises to take care of her. Now, your stereotypical guy would agree to take her off island, screw around with her, and make no promises about the future. Vic just straight up tells her that he’s not in love with her. Like, he could have said “I’ll take you to the mainland and teach you what you need. Maybe it’ll work out between us, maybe it won’t. But I’ll make sure you’ve got a chance at the life you want.” Something like that. He could have even said “I’m not going to marry you. I barely know you. But if you want to come back with me, I’ll take you. We’ll see how it goes.” But no. He knows that all of a sudden he’s in love with Katherine and somehow senses that she’s fallen for him. So he just turns Syrene down because he’s Our Hero and he’s got morals.

Very different characters who just happen to look and sound the same, and there just isn’t enough of a plot to make them distinguishable. Honestly, I’m not even certain whether it was Logan or Vic who met her at the museum. I think, given that they met in a gambling den and she had zero romantic interest in him, that it’s Logan. But I don’t think it really matters.

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He had the hat trick well before this, since he was also in The Human Duplicators.

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It’s a Filipino exploitation film. Beast of the Yellow Night is another. You can get that one from Rifftrax, and you’ll recognize the actor who plays Manuel in another minor role. They were churned out by Americans who wanted to make a movie on a budget, with maybe a couple of C-list American actors surrounded by underpaid locals. Gore, sex, and whatever else they could throw in to make up for the low budget and lack of plot. But for this one, they got John Wayne’s son to be the nominal star, and he agreed to do it only if they kept it PG. So they had to drop the topless scenes and the swearing and stuff. It’s apparently one of the only movies produced there in that era which isn’t rated R. So it’s “family friendly” in that sense. But still has greed and murder and underwater rape. It’s just that they cut away before any clothing is removed. I think in this case “fit for broadcast on TV” is a better descriptor than “family friendly.”

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I don’t know if I can make it make sense, but I think it would have if the ending hadn’t been so absolutely insane. In any other movie, Eddie and Logan would have got their deserved comeuppance for being such low-lifes, with Eddie getting it after blowing up the temple (thinking it would be a distraction but instead lead the natives right to them) and the Logan getting it when diving down to get the pearls when they were thrown overboard.

If that had happened, then, what we would have had was a typical “greedy scum go after treasure and lose it all due to their greed” kind of story. The individual motivations wouldn’t matter so much because the characters would be more tropes than characters. We’d go along with the story to see the moral at the end.

But the ending messes all that up because Logan not only doesn’t die, he doesn’t learn anything and the last lines of the movie are him talking about some other source of wealth and everyone laughs because… I don’t know.

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