Follow TV Tropes


Film / Undersea Kingdom

Go To
A Republic Film Serial from 1936, in twelve chapters. The plot is basically the classic "Atlantis found" story.

U.S. Navy Lt. Crash Corrigan, Professor Norton and his son Billy, Joe the panicky sailor, and Intrepid Reporter Diana Compton (and two other guys with a parrot, but they show up so little it doesn't count) journey to Atlantis, a "continent" that is under a dome of a gold/copper alloy at the bottom of the ocean. There they have misadventures trying to prevent the evil Unga Khan from destroying/conquering Atlantis, and eventually the "upper world."


  1. Beneath The Ocean Floor (30 min 51 s)
  2. The Undersea City (19 min 13 s)
  3. Arena Of Death (18 min 58 s)
  4. Revenge Of The Volkites (18 min 7 s)
  5. Prisoners Of Atlantis (17 min 33 s)
  6. The Juggernaut Strikes (16 min 40 s)
  7. The Submarine Trap (17 min 20 s)
  8. Into The Metal Tower (16 min 49 s)
  9. Death In The Air (16 min 48 s)
  10. Atlantis Destroyed (17 min 28 s)
  11. Flaming Death (19 min 23 s)
  12. Ascent To The Upperworld (16 min 54 s)

See here and here for episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 which featured the first two installments of Undersea Kingdom.

Undersea Kingdom contains examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Briny and Salty, captured by the Black Robes, accidentally arrange for their guard to sit on a stick of dynamite (literally, he actually sits on it) during an escape attempt.
  • Accidental Pervert: At about 17:30 into Chapter 1, Crash Corrigan (as Crash Corrigan) rejoins the group and, apparently trying to place his hand on the shoulder of Lois Wilde (as Diana Compton), instead places it squarely on her (clothed) right breast. She reacts with perfect aplomb and removes the hand from her breast with a motion worthy of a Wing Chun master.
  • Affably Evil: When Diana and Prof. Norton are brought before Unga Khan, he is charming and polite, painting High Priest Sharad as the true villain. Subverted when, after Norton lets slip about his rocket-powered sub and how those same rockets could be used to raise Unga Khan's tower/fortress to the ocean surface, Unga Khan drops the pretense and shows his true Card Carrying colors.
  • Alien Invasion: Well, if you consider undersea dwellers to be aliens; but the main plot revolves around wicked Unga Khan trying to raise his technology tower to the surface in order to conquer the world above.
  • Ambition is Evil: Unga Khan wants to conquer the Upper World, and everyone calls him mad because of it.
  • Atlantis: Sunken underwater for centuries and protected by a huge metal dome, this is where the bulk of the story takes place.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The White Robes' wall-mounted flame throwers can pack a wallop, but due to the way they are mounted they cannot be aimed, making it easy to evade their fire.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: For the first chapter and half of the second, Crash wears his dark blue Navy dress uniform.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Upper World is saved, of course; but Atlantis is destroyed and all her people dead.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • Mooks on both sides of the war are stabbed and arrowed with impunity, with nary a red drop to be seen.
    • In keeping with their role as Plucky Comic Relief, Briny and Salty's Accidental Murder (which see) leaves behind a dead body which is fully intact and free of visible injury.
  • Cataclysm Climax: Not quite the climax; but leading into it, Unga Khan's technology tower does indeed rocket out of Atlantis toward the ocean surface... puncturing Atlantis' protective dome and flooding the underwater continent.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: At one point Crash is chased into a cave with a set of bars at the other end. He quickly bends the bars apart, slips through and bends them shut again; and, even though his pursuers are as beefy/bulky as he is, they cannot replicate the feat.
  • Chekhov's Skill: At the start of the serial, Crash is shown to be a skilled wrestler, which comes in handy when fighting mooks down in Atlantis.
  • Choke Holds: One of Crash's favorite methods of dispatching his enemies. He's even strong enough to take down two men at once.
  • Cliffhanger: The first chapter ends with an almost literal example — Crash and Billy are trapped at the top of a cliff while Unga Khan shoots missiles at them, and we actually see the cliff collapse with both of them still standing there.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: The Other Wiki's entry on Undersea Kingdom has a list of all the times this happens, but a few concrete examples for our purposes:
    • Regarding the literal Cliffhangar mentioned above — in the following episode, Crash and Billy simply climb down the back of the cliff before it is destroyed.
    • Chapter Two ends with Crash being shot by a Volkite and falling down an elevator shaft, and we see the body fall. Next episode: the Volkite's shot misses Crash (barely), and Crash jumps into the shaft and grabs hold of a ledge, then climbs down to the bottom.
    • The end of Chapter Five sees Crash and Defector from Decadence Moloch falling to the ground in the middle of a battle plain, with enemy horses and chariots visibly running over the bodies. Next chapter: The chariots are clearly shown going around the two.
    • And, in a bizarre example which isn't even the episode cliffhanger: Moloch the Sixth Ranger gets very clearly stabbed through during a sustained battle. Next episode: Moloch staggers to his feet and shakes it off.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Well, it is black and white, but good guys = White Robes, bad guys = Black Robes.
  • Compilation Movie: Released for the TV market in The '60s as "Sharad of Atlantis" (after the leader of the good "White Robe" Atlanteans).
  • Cool Airship: Unga Khan's Volplane, a sort of "flying chariot".
  • Cool Boat: Prof. Norton's submarine, which is rocket-propelled. This, in fact, is what gives Unga Khan an idea for how to raise his tower to the Upper World.
  • Cool Car: The Volkites' tank, the Juggernaut, looks like a cross between a Chrysler town car and the C.S.S. Virginia (aka Merrimac).
  • Death by Looking Up: Sharad is killed during a bombing run when part of the Atlantean temple collapses on top of him.
  • Dirty Coward: Joe The Panicky Sailor is nervous from the start about taking the professor's submarine so deep into the ocean; but when they actually do it he completely loses his shit and tries to crash the sub into the ocean floor. Later, when confronted by the Volkites, Joe ditches the gang and runs away, ironically making himself an easier target in the process.
  • The Dragon: Black Robe Ditmar is never far from Unga Khan's side and operates most of the villains' technology from a control box on his belt.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Crash sneaks into Unga Khan's tower, overpowers a couple of soldiers and steals a uniform. It's apparent that he wouldn't want to draw attention to himself whilst sneaking around, but it never really comes into play because the very next scene is him arriving in the tower's control room to rescue his friends. He later does it again to impersonate the Mook Lieutenant.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Joe The Panicky Sailor goes Space Happy and tries to wreck the submarine, to the point where Crash has to slug him to get him under control. Afterwards, everyone is perfectly fine with letting Joe run around loose and continue hanging with them; no one ever so much as mentions his near-fatal panic attack, not even to dismiss it.
    • Crash kills a White Robe (allegedly), breaks a statue of Poseidon (accidentally), and refuses to execute his foe after winning a Forced Prize Fight. For all of this he is sentenced to death; but after rescuing High Priest Sharad from a kidnapping attempt Crash is not only pardoned on the spot, he is immediately appointed Captain Of The Guard.
    • Crash's Forced Prize Fight foe himself, Moloch, switches loyalties and is accepted into the White Robe army without question.
  • Emperor Scientist: Unga Khan is the despot ruler of Atlantis, and it is notable that only his faction employs what could be described as high technology. Even if he is not the inventor/engineer of said technology, he is highly conversant with it.
  • E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: In the Dénouement, Prof. Norton is attempting to reverse-engineer a scavenged Volkite.
  • Forced Prize Fight: What the White Robes do with their Black Robe prisoners.
  • Heel–Face Turn / Defector from Decadence / Sixth Ranger: Moloch, Crash's opponent in the Forced Prize Fight whom Crash refuses to execute, switches allegiance as a result.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Briny and Salty, after their Accidental Murder of the guard watching over them, utterly fail to take advantage of the situation and escape. It's possible they were still chained together, but evidence from the film would suggest they're just idiots.
    • Crash and Company grab the Ball tightly every time they try to rescue Prof. Norton from the Black Robes. They reason with him and carry him around unbound and unsecured, in full knowledge that he has been brainwashed by Unga Khan. Inevitably, Norton evades/disrupts their rescue attempts and returns to the villain's side. At least, until they finally buy a clue and actually undo the brainwashing.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Diana Compton, who for the first couple chapters does nothing except gush on about what a great story this is going to be.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • This is the intent behind the White Robes' wall-mounted flame throwers, but... well, see Awesome, but Impractical above.
    • For the Cliffhanger to Chapter Eleven, Crash and Company attempt to disable the rockets that will launch Unga Khan's science tower to the surface; Unga Khan lets them try, confident that the fire from the rockets will kill them. In the next chapter, everyone escapes the rocket flames except Moloch.
  • Large Ham: Sharad pronounces the name of Unga Khan in a ridiculously dire tone and with a bug-eyed expression, like he's warning his grandkids about the Boogeyman.
  • Last of His Kind: One of the episode-starting intertitles reveals that Sharad is the "last of the line of true Atlanteans."
  • Mauve Shirt: Moloch the Sixth Ranger becomes Crash's generic sidekick early in the serial, replacing Joe The Panicky Sailor. He remains loyal to Crash and Company right up until his death in Chapter Eleven's Cliffhanger.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Tin-Can Robot Volkites.
  • Mooks: Unga Khan's Black Robes. The White Robes could count as well, at least until Crash and Company fall squarely on their side.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Captain Hakur of the Black Robes, played by Lon Chaney Jr..
  • More than Mind Control: Unga Khan has a phone booth / Frankenstein device / smoke machine which can bend anyone's mind to his will. The good news is, it's reversible.
  • Neutral Female: Zig-zagged with Diana. In scenes where the group is held captive, the guys will be tied up (even the child and the old man) but Diana is always left unbound, as if even the villains know she will never take any action. On the other hand, in one instance she grabs a dropped gun to hold the bad guys at bay during an escape attempt, and on another occasion helps Billy try to sabotage Unga Khan's tower-raising rockets.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Unga Khan's "Projector" weapon is a giant rocket launcher which shoots flying torpedoes.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • "Awesome" part inverted as follows: In Chapter Two, Crash tells Billy to head back to the submarine before he himself heads off to infiltrate Unga Khan's lair. In the recap cards for Chapter Three, we learn that Billy was captured offscreen by the White Robes and brought before Sharad, High Priest Of Atlantis.
    • Briny and Salty ultimately escape from their captors offscreen, with absolutely no hint of how they managed to pull it off. It's not a huge Plot Hole, since they have no effect on the actual Plot; but it's still a Hole.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Briny and Salty, whose exploits are concurrent with, but entirely discreet from, the main story.
  • Plummet Perspective: At the end of Chapter Two, Crash is clearly shown falling down an elevator shaft, leading to Chapter Three's blatant Cliffhanger Copout.
  • President Evil: Unga Khan. It's even implied that he's not the legitimate ruler of Atlantis, as High Priest Sharad calls him a "usurper"; another hint that this is so is that he "rules" from his tower rather than from a palace in the capitol city.
  • Previously on…: Downplayed to the extreme. Whereas most Film Serials utilize some sort of title card at the start of each chapter to recap the story and/or the Cliffhanger, Undersea Kingdom employs a series of intercards, each giving a single-sentence sketch of the main characters — which may or may not relate any updates on their individual situations.
  • Prisoner's Work / Working on the Chain Gang: Briny and Salty's insular subplot involves them being captured and put to work by the Black Robes, first at breaking boulders and later cleaning out the horse stables. The latter trope is downplayed as the two are chained only to each other.
  • Ray Gun:
    • Unga Khan's "Disintegrator Ray", which can blow up mountains but mostly generates earthquakes to menace the Upper World.
    • The Volkite Mecha-Mooks are armed with lightning rifles.
  • Redshirt: Joe The Panicky Sailor doesn't even live out the first chapter.
  • Schizo Tech: The Black Robes have robots and armored cars, elevators and electricity, an earthquake machine, the USS Enterprise, flying torpedoes, Video Phones and Ray Guns. The White Robes have only flame throwers. The vast majority of everything else is swords, bows, and chariots.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Unga Khan's "Reflector Plate", which can see/hear to any remote location. Any remote location (including the Upper World). It even automatically knows what location he wants to see without his having to specify.
  • Tagalong Kid: Billy, though on rare occasions he makes himself actually useful — in one instance, by stealing a Volkite's Ray Gun and rescuing Crash and Diana from Unga Khan's clutches.
  • Talking Animal: Sinbad the Parrot.
  • Those Two Guys: Briny and Salty; as noted above, practically all of their scenes and adventures are separate from the main group.
  • Tightrope Walking: Crash does this on a few occasions, walking across high-tension lines to sneak into/out of Unga Khan's tower.
  • Underwater City: Technically, Underwater Continent (or "island", as the case may be). Well, to be fair, there is a city.
  • Video Phone: The Reflector Plate, which is both a communications device and Surveillance as the Plot Demands.
  • A Villain Named Khan: O hai, Unga Khan!
  • A Villain Named "Z__rg": One of Unga Khan's mooks is named Zogg.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: While Unga Khan clearly has enough loyal followers (and technology) to form a credibly threatening army, the average citizenry of Atlantis appears to live inside the city and support Sharad the High Priest.
  • Yellow Peril: Unga Khan, who is totally not Ming the Merciless.