Latitude Zero (1969)
An attack of evil upon a fantastic city eleven miles beneath the sea!
— International tagline
Discover the incredible world of tomorrow... 15 miles straight down at Latitude Zero
— American tagline
Latitude Zero (緯度
Latitude Zero follows three men who are rescued by the super-submarine Alpha after their bathysphere is caught in the eruption of an undersea volcano. The sub's captain, Craig McKenzie, takes the trio to the hidden utopia of Latitude Zero to allow one of them to undergo live-saving medical treatment. When McKenzie's nemesis, the mad scientist Malic, abducts a scientist and his daughter who were bound for Latitude Zero, McKenzie and the three men board the Alpha and travel to Malic's base at Blood Rock for a showdown against him and his menagerie of monstrous creatures.
In the spring of 1969, the Japanese research vessel Fuji, the largest oceanographic ship in the world, is investigating the Cromwell Current in the equatorial South Pacific. It is studying the current because of its potential to be used by submarines in order to increase speed, just as a jet stream can be used by aircraft. The ship lowers a bathysphere under the sea to more closely inspect the current. It is commanded by Japanese physicist and oceanographer Dr. Ken Tashiro. He is accompanied by French geologist Dr. Jules Masson, and Perry Lawton, reporter for Trans-Globe News. As the bathysphere descends, the men notice all of the marine life in the area swimming away in the same direction. The reason for this is revealed as a nearby underwater volcano erupts, severing the line connecting the bathysphere to the Fuji and causing it to fall into an undersea trench. Two mysterious divers approach the bathysphere and find all three men injured and unconscious inside. They attach the bathysphere to a line and bring it up to a submarine.
Sometime later, Dr. Tashiro and Lawton awaken inside a cabin aboard the sub and are surprised to discover they possess no injuries from the ordeal. They are greeted by one of the divers who rescued them, who introduces herself as Dr. Anne Barton. She explains that Dr. Masson suffered more severe injuries than the two of them and is being cared for in another cabin. Tashiro and Lawton are given new sets of clothes and head to the submarine's control room, while Dr. Barton resumes caring for Masson. When they reach the control room, Tashiro and Lawton are greeted by Craig McKenzie, captain of the Alpha. He also introduces them to his assistant Kobo, the other diver who had helped rescue them. McKenzie explains that he was in the area to study the eruption of the underwater volcano, having predicted its eruption some time ago. Had the bathysphere been any closer to the volcano, he explains, all of the occupants would have been incinerated. Lawton asks McKenzie what nation he represents, since he appears to be American while Kobo is Japanese. McKenzie states that he represents no nation and is neutral, which the two men find hard to believe given how advanced his submarine is. They notice a plaque in the control room which states that the Alpha was launched in 1805 from Hebrides, Scotland. The men are incredulous since submarines did not exist until the 1880's, and ask McKenzie if this whole thing is a put-on, but he insists that the Alpha was really launched over 160 years ago, and explains that submersibles had been around since the 1600's. Dr. Barton enters the room and informs McKenzie that Masson has suffered internal injuries which they cannot treat aboard the Alpha. If he is to live, she says, they must return to Latitude Zero and care for him there. Reluctantly, McKenzie abandons the mission and the Alpha makes its way back to Latitude Zero.
Meanwhile, in his base on Blood Rock, the mad scientist Malic is informed by his companion Lucretia that the Alpha is leaving the volcano. Seeing this as an opportunity to kill Captain McKenzie, he orders his henchwoman Kroiga to pursue and destroy the Alpha using his advanced submarine the Black Shark. When the Alpha passes by, the Black Shark emerges from behind a nearby rock formation and begins to pursue it. McKenzie sees the sub pursuing them and tells Tashiro and Masson that their only hope is to find a way to escape, as the Black Shark is faster and more heavily armed. They ask McKenzie who the Black Shark belongs to, and he explains that it is owned by his arch-enemy Malic. Malic, he says, is an evil genius who aims to conquer the world, and has only been prevented from doing so already thanks to the efforts of Latitude Zero. He goes on to say that he and Malic were not always enemies, and were students together 100 years ago. Lawton does not believe this suggestion and asks how old McKenzie really is. McKenzie says that although he's sure Lawton will not believe him, he is 204 years old while Malic is 203. The Black Shark opens fire on the Alpha with torpedoes, but it is able to evade them. As the Alpha tries to escape by weaving in between rock formations, Kroiga fires heatseeking missiles at it, which track the Alpha's heat path. McKenzie uses freezing equipment to try and hide the sub from the missiles, and ascends just in time for the missiles to collide with each other and explode. Next, Kroiga mans the Black Shark's laser cannon and prepares to fire it at the Alpha. Thinking quickly, McKenzie projects a holographic ghost image of the Alpha, making it impossible to tell which is the real Alpha. Kroiga opens fire on one of them and believes she has successfully destroyed the Alpha. However, she soon realizes that she fired at the holograph as the real Alpha gets closer and closer to reaching Latitude Zero. As it approaches, a bright glow is visible underwater, which McKenzie states is the light from the artificial sun of Latitude Zero. The Alpha activates its equalizers and passes through the barrier into Latitude Zero, while the Black Shark is halted once it reaches the barrier. Malic is infuriated that Kroiga failed him, and tells Lucretia to order the Black Shark back to Blood Rock and inform his agents that they should have kidnapped Dr. Okada by now.
The Alpha docks in Latitude Zero, where McKenzie orders some of his men to begin making modifications to the craft. Dr. Barton accompanies Masson in an ambulance to be brought to the rehabilitation center. McKenzie then brings Tashiro and Lawton to Latitude Zero's great hall. There, he shows them a model of the entirety of Latitude Zero and tells them more about it. Latitude Zero is a scientifically advanced underwater utopia whose inhabitants work for the betterment of mankind. For centuries, the world's leading scientists have voluntarily come to live in Latitude Zero, where they now live forever while the outside world assumes they are dead. LZ's artificial sun provides light, warmth, and vitamin D, and its freshwater springs and evaporators grant an unlimited supply of clean water. LZ can easily extract gold from seawater, and uses it to fabricate clothing. While Tashiro is impressed by the utopia that is Latitude Zero, Lawton is ever skeptical and asks why if LZ supposedly works toward the betterment of mankind that it is kept a secret. McKenzie explains that until mankind can live in harmony, LZ would never be able to carry out its work if it were known to the world. Until then, LZ operates in secret, waiting until the rest of humanity is ready to join it and occasionally leaking its scientific discoveries to the outside world. McKenzie escorts Tashiro and Lawton to their quarters. He shows them around and says to meet him in his office in the morning. Lawton notices that a planter in the room is filled with diamonds, and asks McKenzie if they are real. McKenzie smiles and says they are and tells Lawton to take as many as he likes. Lawton opens a coin purse and fills it with as many of the diamonds that he can. When Tashiro asks what they are to do for dinner, McKenzie shows them a console which they can use to order any meal they want which will be prepared by the day's volunteer chef and delivered to their room by a conveyor belt. When McKenzie departs, Lawton debates the legitimacy of Latitude Zero with Tashiro. While Tashiro completely believes McKenzie, Lawton says there has to be some other explanation, such as the possibility they were injected with a drug that causes hallucinations. Tashiro laughs off the suggestion and sits down for dinner, sarcastically asking if he has to enjoy this "hallucination" all by himself before Lawton joins him.
Back at Blood Rock, Malic hatches a plan to use Dr. Okada as bait to bring McKenzie to Blood Rock so he can kill him there. He tells Lucretia to contact Kroiga and have her kidnap Okada, which he says will be her final mission before he "retires" her. At Latitude Zero the next morning, Dr. Masson joins Tashiro and Lawton in McKenzie's office. There, he shows them footage of some of the scientists who have left the surface world to come to LZ. One of them is Japanese bacteriologist Dr. Okada, who won the Nobel Prize in 1966 for his work. He explains that Okada has developed a serum which can immunize against radiation. Many nations and groups have tried to recruit Okada or steal his research, including Malic. Okada has refused to give up his formula until every citizen of the world has been immunized. Otherwise, he fears nations could immunize their own population and conquer the world. Right now, Okada and his daughter Tsuruko are on a ship en route to Honolulu, where they will be picked up and brought to Latitude Zero with identical body doubles being left in their place to complete their journey to San Francisco. At sea, the ship carrying them is attacked by the Black Shark and they are abducted by Malic's henchmen. The two are brought to Malic's base in Blood Rock, where Malic asks Okada to give him the formula for his anti-radiation serum. Okada adamantly refuses, prompting Malic to say he will give him some time to think it over. He and Lucretia prepare to escort Okada and his daughter to their quarters, but Kroiga asks Malic if she will be rewarded for bringing them to him. Malic responds that he will reward her and asks what she desires, to which she responds to be alone with him. Malic tells Kroiga to wait in a nearby room where they can be together, but after she enters a cage drops from the ceiling and traps her. Malic brings Okada and Tsuruko to a room where he again asks Okada to reveal his formula. When Okada refuses again, Lucretia presses a button that opens a wall in the room and reveals two Bat Men behind metal bars. Malic threatens Okada and says these creatures will be keeping him and his daughter company for the next 12 hours. If Okada does not willingly give up his formula by then, Malic will forcibly obtain the formula himself by removing Okada's brain and extracting its memory banks. He then grabs Tsuruko by the throat and warns that if her father does not cooperate, he will turn her into a creature like the Bat Men. When Malic and Lucretia leave the room, Okada pulls a pair of glasses from his pocket and activates a homing beacon on them. Malic and Lucretia discover the signal, and Malic realizes that Okada is broadcasting his location to LZ. Malic laughs and says this saves him the trouble of having to contact McKenzie himself and tell him he has Dr. Okada.
At LZ, McKenzie is able to pinpoint the location of Okada's signal to Blood Rock. He says he will have to postpone sending the three men back to the surface as he needs to mount a rescue mission. He says he will need three men to go along on the mission, for which Tashiro, Lawton, and Masson all volunteer. Dr. Barton asks to go along as well since they will need a doctor, which McKenzie accepts so long as she remains aboard the Alpha. McKenzie brings everyone going along on the mission to the "Bath of Immunity," a pool which grants anyone who submerges in it immunity to most forms of injury for about 12 hours. He demonstrates this by having one of his men shoot at them with a gun, only for the bullets to harmlessly bounce off of them. McKenzie then gives each of them a "Convexo-Suit," a full-body suit made of a gold and platinum alloy which protects the wearer from extreme heat. Malic meanwhile confronts Okada and informs him that he is well aware of his distress call to McKenzie. Because McKenzie is almost certainly on his way, Malic takes Okada's glasses and crushes them beneath his boot, then releases the Bat Men and orders them to bring Okada and Tsuruko to his operating theater. A Bat Men forcibly holds the two down in chairs on a balcony overlooking a large operating room where Malic has Kroiga on an operating table and a lion and condor in cages. Kroiga screams at Malic not to do this before Lucretia injects her with a sedative and instantly knocks her unconscious. Knockout gas pours into the lion's cage and incapacitates it, after shich it is placed on another operating table. Malic uses an electronic scalpel to cut open the lion's skull and removes its brain. He declares that he will now place Kroiga's brain inside the lion, creating a beast with a human mind. Okada pleads with Malic not to go through with this and says he will give up the formula, but Malic says that it is too late and he will dissect Okada's brain after he finishes his latest creation. Malic saws open Kroiga's skull and removes her brain, then surgically inserts it inside the lion's skull. Next, he has the condor sedated and surgically removes its wings before attaching them to the lion. When Malic's Griffon awakens, he asks Kroiga if she can hear him, to which the creature responds by roaring. Malic boasts that his creation knows its own name, and injects it with a growth serum which will cause it to grow three times its original size. Malic tells Kroiga to kill McKenzie, and the Griffon makes its way outside. He activates the growth serum, which causes the Griffon to grow to giantic size. He then has Okada placed on the operating table and prepares to remove his brain, ordering the Bat Man to force his daughter to watch the everything.
While all of this is transpiring, the Alpha reaches Blood Rock. McKenzie gives Kobo, Tashiro, Lawton, and Masson Helio-Elevation Belts and Rocket Pods which will allow them to scale the cliffs of Blood Rock. He also gives them gloves armed with a variety of weapons finger-mounted weapons. They include a flamethrower, knockout gas that stuns but does not kill, and a laser beam that is lethal up to 100 yards. He tells Barton to bring the Alpha onto an underwater shelf after they depart and wait there until she receives their signal. If she does not receive the signal by dusk, she is to return to Latitude Zero immediately. The Alpha surfaces and McKenzie, Kobo, Tashiro, Lawton, and Masson all exit and use their equipment to fly up onto Blood Rock. Barton then submerges the Alpha and parks it on the underwater shelf. As they make their way to the tower which they assume is Malic's base, they are trapped by a magnetic field which immobilizes them. Kobo is able to climb onto an overhang and pull everyone up and out of the trap one-by-one. They then head for a nearby cave. Malic detonates explosives on a cliff above the men and triggers an avalanche. Tashiro is buried under the rocks, but Kobo helps him escape and thanks to the Bath of Immunity he is unharmed. The men make their way deeper into the cave where they are confronted by another of Malic's creations: the Giant Rats. They use the gas bombs on their gloves to hold off the monsters long enough to escape and make their way through a field of sulfur vents a bubbling purple lake. With the Giant Rats fast approaching, McKenzie and Masson try to hold them off with their flamethrowers while Kobo tries to see if they can swim across the lake. When Kobo dips his leg in the water, his boot is immediately eaten away by the water. Lawton and Tashiro help pull Kobo from the water and remove his boot, while his Rocket Pod falls into the corrosive water. McKenzie and Masson kill one Giant Rat, but the others continue to get closer. The four all lock arms with Kobo in the middle and fly across the deadly lake. The Giant Rats mindlessly wade into the lake as they pursue the men, only to drown in the acidic water. Just as Malic is about to operate on Okada, McKenzie and the others breach the operating room. Malic unleashes all of his Bat Men which fly about the room and fight the men. They are able to kill them with their weapons while McKenzie confronts Malic. Malic grabs a scalpel and tries to stab McKenzie, but he throws Lucretia at him and Malic accidentally fatally stabs her. Malic apologizes to Lucretia and says it was an accident, and in her final words tells him that she knows it was. Enraged, Malic unleashes a swarm of regularly-sized bats which attack the men and escapes through a tunnel. McKenzie and Kobo try to pursue him but find he has escaped. They return to the operating room and rescue Okada and Tsuruko and make their way back to the Alpha.
When Dr. Barton receives the signal, she brings the Alpha to the surface and lets everyone board. Suddenly, the Black Shark begins to approach, piloted by Malic. The Alpha is pulled toward the rocky walls of Blood Rock by a magnetic field, leaving it helpless as the Black Shark bombards it with artillery. Malic orders his crew to ready the laser cannon and finish off the Alpha while it is helpless. McKenzie is forced to use one of the new untested modifications of the Alpha. If it works, he says, the Alpha will fly. The Alpha's rudders adjust and rockets on it activate, causing it to rise from the water and fly away from the magnetic field. Malic desperately takes command of the Black Shark's laser cannon and fires wildly at the Alpha as it flies overhead. The Black Shark then becomes caught in the same magnetic field from which the Alpha had just escaped and is pulled into the island. The Griffon, who had up until that point perched on a cliff and ignored all of Malic's orders to attack, takes flight and makes her way to the Black Shark. Malic sees the Griffon approaching and fires the laser cannon at her, but she lands on top of the ship and begins clawing viciously at the laser cannon. The Griffon's attack forces the cannon to fire at the cliff above, triggering an avalanche that destroys the Black Shark. The Black Shark then explodes, taking everyone aboard and the Griffon down with it. This sets off a chain reaction that causes Malic's base to explode as well, followed by the entirety of Blood Rock.
After returning to Latitude Zero, Tashiro and Masson have decided to stay there and enjoy a picnic with Tsuruko and Dr. Barton. Lawton, however, is insistent on returning to the surface and bringing his story and his fortune in diamonds along with him. McKenzie bids him farewell and has Kobo transport him to the surface. A ship preparing to recover an American spacecraft after it touches down in the ocean encounters Lawton aboard a raft and he is brought aboard. Lawton notes that the ship's captain looks exactly like Dr. Tashiro, despite the captain claiming to have no idea who that is. Lawton tells the crew his story, but they all laugh and completely dismiss it. One of the ship's officers enters the room and introduces himself as Commander Glenn McKenzie. Lawton is shocked because the commander looks exactly like Craig McKenzie. Lawton tries to show Commander McKenzie the photos he took of Latitude Zero, only to find that the film is completely blank. Finally, he resorts to showing the diamonds he brought back from LZ, but when he opens his coin purse he finds it filled only with dirt. McKenzie says that Lawton will be cared for in sick bay until their mission is complete. As McKenzie leaves, another officer who looks identical to Malic, Lieutenant Hastings, enters the room. Later, the captain, Commander McKenzie, and Lieutenant Hastings are gathered in the ship's control room. Hastings informs them that a large deposit of diamonds has been made in New York City and is being held in Lawton's name. The three have no idea who left the deposit or why. They are then informed that the pickup location for the spacecraft has been altered, and is now set at the equator, latitude zero.
- Main article: Latitude Zero/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ishiro Honda
- Written by Shinichi Sekizawa, Ted Sherdeman
- Based on the radio drama by Ted Sherdeman
- Executive producer Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Creative advisor Warren Lewis
- Music by Akira Ifukube
- Cinematography by Taiichi Kankura
- Edited by Ume Takeda
- Production design by Takeo Kita
- First assistant director Seiji Tani
- Director of special effects Eiji Tsuburaya
- First assistant director of special effects Teruyoshi Nakano
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Akira Takarada as Dr. Ken Tashiro, physicist and oceanographer / JSDF ship captain
- Joseph Cotten as Captain Craig McKenzie, captain of the Alpha / Commander Glenn McKenzie
- Cesar Romero as Malic, scientist / Lieutenant Hastings
- Masumi Okada as Dr. Jules Masson, geologist
- Richard Jaeckal as Perry Lawton, reporter for Trans-Globe News
- Mari Nakayama as Tsuruko Okada, Dr. Okada's daughter
- Patricia Medina as Lucretia, Malic's lover
- Akihiko Hirata as Dr. Sugata, Latitude Zero doctor
- Tetsu Nakamura as Dr. Okada, bacteriologist
- Hitoshi Omae as Kobo, Alpha crew
- Linda Haynes as Dr. Anne Barton, Alpha doctor
- Hikaru Kuroki as Captain Kroiga, captain of the Black Shark
- Susumu Kurobe as Chin, Black Shark crew
- Yasuhiko Saijiyo as Sailor on escort ship
- Haruo Nakajima as Griffon / Giant Rat / Bat Man
- Hiroshi Sekita as Warren / Bat Man
- Teruo Aragaki, Haruyoshi Nakamura as Giant Rats (uncredited)
- Susumu Utsumi as Bat Man (uncredited)
- Seiji Onaka as Sailor on escort ship (uncredited)
- Hiroshi Tanaka as Medic on escort ship (uncredited)
- Koichi Sato as Satellite officer on escort ship (uncredited)
- Minoru Ito, Ken Echigo, Enver Altenbay, Shigeo Kato as Sailors on the Fuji (uncredited)
- Akio Kusama as Fuji record clerk (uncredited)
- Yoshio Katsube as Fuji record clerk / resident of Latitude Zero (uncredited)
- Rinsaku Ogata, Yasuhiko Kakuyuki, Masaki Shinohara as Black Shark crew members (uncredited)
- Yukio Kawamata, Yasushi Matsubara as Fuji crew members (uncredited)
- Yutaka Oka, Tadashi Okabe, Eizaburo Komatsu, Ryoji Shimizu, Masaaki Tachibana, Seiji Yoshida as Reporters (uncredited)
- Takuya Yuki as Dr. Okada's assistant (uncredited)
- Osman Yusuf as McKenzie's subordinate (uncredited)
- Andrew Hughes as Sir Maurice Poeley (uncredited)
- Kathy Horan as Latitude Zero correspondent (uncredited)
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Goro Naya as Captain Craig McKenzie
- Kosei Tomita as Malic
- Ichiro Murakoshi as Perry Lawton
- Mahito Tsujimura as Soviet spokesman
- Junko Midori as Lucretia
- Michiko Hirai as Dr. Anne Barton
Weapons, vehicles, and races
- Main article: Latitude Zero/Gallery.
- Main article: Latitude Zero/Soundtrack.
- The Great Latitude Zero Operation (literal Japanese title)
- Latitude Zero: Battle in the Ocean (English Toho Champion Festival title)
- U 4000: Panic in the Ocean (U-4000 - Panik unter dem Ozean; West Germany)
- Where the World Ends (Donde el mundo termina, Spain)
- Panic in the Deep Sea (Paniek in de Diepzee; Dutch Belgium)
- The Destruction of the "Alpha" (De Vernietiging van de "Alpha"; Netherlands)
- Japan - July 26, 1969 [view poster]; December 14, 1974 (Toho Champion Festival) [view poster]
- United States - April 24, 1970 [view poster]
- Canada - June 5, 1970
- Israel - 1969
- West Germany - April 1970 [view poster]
- Dutch Belgium - 1970
- Italy - 1970
- Thailand - 1970
- France - October 3, 1971
- Pakistan - 1973
- Brazil - 1973 [view poster]
- Mexico - 1974
Toho DVD (2006) [Latitude Zero Collector's Box]
- Region: 2
- Discs: 3
- Audio: English (5.1 Surround, 1.0 Mono), Japanese (1.0 Mono)
- Special features: Japanese theatrical pamphlet image gallery; setting material gallery; Toho Champion Festival theatrical pamphlet image gallery; Japanese theatrical, newsflash, and international trailers; interview with Seiji Tani, Teruyoshi Nakano, Koichi Kawakita, and Motoyoshi Tomioka; unused special effects footage (2 minutes), drama EP record narrated by Goro Naya (8 minutes), audio commentary by Akira Takarada on Japanese theatrical version, audio commentary by Masumi Okada on international version, audio commentary by Goro Naya on Toho Champion Festival version, photo book (40 pages), booklet (6 pages)
- Notes: Contains the Japanese theatrical version on disc 1, the international version on disc 2, and the Toho Champion Festival version on disc 3. Out of print.
Toho DVD (2006, 2014, 2015)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (1.0 Mono)
- Special features: Japanese theatrical pamphlet image gallery; setting material gallery; Japanese theatrical and newsflash trailers; interview with Seiji Tani, Teruyoshi Nakano, Koichi Kawakita, and Motoyoshi Tomioka; unused special effects footage (2 minutes), audio commentary by Akira Takarada
- Notes: Standard edition of Japanese theatrical version disc from Latitude Zero Collector's Box release.
Tokyo Shock DVD (2007)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 2
- Audio: English (5.1 Surround, 2.0 Mono), Japanese (1.0 Mono)
- Special features: Photo gallery; Japanese theatrical, newsflash and international trailers; interview with Seiji Tani, Teruyoshi Nakano, Koichi Kawakita, and Motoyoshi Tomioka; unused special effects footage from Latitude Zero, Varan, The Storm of the Pacific, Atragon, Submersion of Japan, and The Imperial Navy (28 minutes)
- Notes: Contains the international version on disc 1, and the Japanese theatrical version and extras on disc 2. Out of print.
Though Latitude Zero is not available on Blu-ray, an HD version can be rented or purchased on the Japanese versions of Amazon Video and iTunes.
- Little is known about the radio show Latitude Zero was based on, but a 1941 TIME article states that the protagonist and antagonist were always Captain Craig McKenzie and Malic, the Alpha was called the Omega, and a griffon appeared in at least one episode.
- Unlike other Toho productions, Latitude Zero was filmed entirely in English. Even the Japanese actors, including Akira Takarada and Akihiko Hirata, deliver all of their lines in English.
- Latitude Zero was the last science fiction film for which Eiji Tsuburaya directed special effects, though he served as special effects supervisor on All Monsters Attack later that same year.
- Latitude Zero was re-released at the Winter Toho Champion Festival on December 14, 1974, with an edited re-release of Mothra and the Yomiuri Giants documentary The Burning Man: Shigeo Nagashima, Uniform Number 3. The film was edited down to 68 minutes and re-titled The Great Undersea War: Latitude Zero.
- Due to U.S. producer Don Sharpe's production company going bankrupt and the original contract not properly clarifying aftermarket distribution rights, Toho did not release Latitude Zero on home video until 2006, after the original contract expired.
- Interview with actress Linda Haynes about her experiences working on the film
- All footage removed from the American version of the film
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