Latitude Zero (1969)

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Latitude Zero
The Japanese poster for Latitude Zero
Alternate titles
Flagicon Japan.png The Great Latitude 0 Operation (1969)
See alternate titles
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Producer(s) Tomoyuki Tanaka
Written by Shinichi Sekizawa, Ted Sherdeman
Music by Akira Ifukube
Distributor TohoJP,
National General PicturesUS
Rating GUS
Budget ¥289 million[1]
Box office ¥170 million[1]
Running time 89 minutesJP
(1 hour, 29 minutes)
99 minutesUS
(1 hour, 39 minutes)
105 minutesINTL
(1 hour, 45 minutes)
Aspect ratio 2.35:1
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Discover the incredible world of tomorrow... 15 miles straight down at Latitude Zero

— Tagline

Latitude Zero (緯度 (ゼロ)大作戦,   Ido Zero Daisakusen, lit. The Great Latitude 0 Operation) is a 1969 tokusatsu science fiction film produced by Toho and based on the radio serial Latitude Zero created by Ted Sherdeman. The film was released to Japanese theaters on July 26, 1969, and to American theaters starting in December 1970.

Plot[edit | edit source]

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, Lieutenant Hastings, enters the room, and who looks completely identical to Malic. 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.

Staff[edit | edit source]

Main article: Latitude Zero/Credits.

Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

Cast[edit | edit source]

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)

Japanese dub[edit | edit source]

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

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Monsters[edit | edit source]

Weapons, vehicles, and races[edit | edit source]

  • Alpha
  • Black Shark
  • Research vessel Fuji
  • Bathysphere
  • Escort ship Isonami
  • Convexo-Suit
  • Helio-Elevation Belt
  • Rocket Pod

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Main article: Latitude Zero/Gallery.

Soundtrack[edit | edit source]

Main article: Latitude Zero (Soundtrack).

Alternate titles[edit | edit source]

  • The Great Latitude Zero Operation (literal Japanese title)
    • The Great Undersea War: The Great Latitude 0 Operation (海底大戦争 緯度0大作戦,   Kaitei Daisensō Ido Zero Daisakusen, Toho Champion Festival title)
    • The Great Undersea War —Latitude Zero— (海底大戦争-緯度ゼロ-,   Kaitei Daisensō Ido Zero, production title; third draft)[2]
  • 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)

Theatrical releases[edit | edit source]

  • Japan - July 26, 1969  [view poster]Japanese poster; December 14, 1974 (Toho Champion Festival)  [view poster]Japanese 1974 poster
  • United States - December 1970  [view poster]American poster
  • Israel - 1969
  • West Germany - April 1970  [view poster]German poster
  • Belgium - 1970
  • Italy - 1970
  • Thailand - 1970
  • France - October 3, 1971
  • Pakistan - 1973
  • Brazil - 1973  [view poster]Brazilian poster
  • Mexico - 1974

Video releases[edit | edit source]

Tokyo Shock DVD (2007)

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.

Videos[edit | edit source]

Japanese Latitude Zero trailer
Japanese Latitude Zero newsflash/
special announcement trailer
International Latitude Zero trailer
American Latitude Zero trailer
American Latitude Zero TV trailers
German Latitude Zero trailer

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • 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.[3]
  • Unlike other 1960's Toho productions starring American actors, 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 special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya before his death.[4]

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

This is a list of references for Latitude Zero. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Steve Ryfle and Ed Godzizewski (2017). Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film. Wesleyan University Press. pp. 250–252. ISBN 9780819577412.
  2. Toho Special Effects Movie Complete Works. villagebooks. 28 September 2012. p. 128. ISBN 4-864-91013-8.
  3. Latitude Zero (1969)
  4. Stuart Galbraith IV (1 May 1998). Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo! The Incredible World of Japanese Fantasy Films. Feral House. p. 164. ISBN 0922915474.
  5. Steve Ryfle (1998). Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of "the Big G". ECW Press. p. 157. ISBN 15550223488 Check |isbn= value: length (help).


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