THE INCREDIBLE PETRIFIED WORLD: An Incredible Petrified Movie.
By Steve Stones
By Steve Stones
This is certainly not Jerry Warren’s worst effort, but it’s also not his best. I give my vote to Warren’s Man Beast as his best. Like all his films, it suffers greatly in budget and runs short in length. It helps that veteran actor John Carradine is cast in the film, and Robert Clarke, star of The Hideous Sun Demon and The Astounding She-Monster. Carradine was known as one of the busiest and hardest working actors in the entertainment industry. Somehow he was able to squeeze this turkey into his busy schedule.
Although the film has an interesting plot, it is full of unintentional humor as a result of its hampered budget. For example, oceanographer Carradine launches a diving bell from his boat near the Florida Keys. The bell contains four ocean explorers who are former students of Carradine’s. As the bell is launched, it’s obvious that the bell is too small to hold a five-year-old child comfortably, let alone four grown adults who are supposed to be inside the bell. When the bell breaks from the chain that connects it to the boat, the four explorers leave the bell in scuba gear. The bell is so small that the divers have to pretend as if they are leaving the top of the bell, but actually they are swimming up from behind it. A much larger diving bell should have been
Another ridiculous scene shows Robert Clarke inside the bell dressed in his scuba gear sharpening the ends of three spears by rubbing them on the top of the radio gear. The spears are to be used to hunt for fish. Anyone who was ever a Boy Scout knows that the only way to sharpen something is to use a sharpening stone, or to carve a sharp point on the end with a pocketknife. Why Clarke is using the top of the radio gear to sharpen the spears is a bit odd, yet funny and typical of a low budget movie.
Seeing the lovely Phyllis Coates run around inside the underground ocean caverns in high heels is also very ridiculous, yet adds some unintentional humor to the film. Coates is best know as the panther girl in the 1950s serial Panther Girl of The Congo, and as Lois Lane in the 1950s Superman TV show. It’s unfortunate that Coates is not running around in her sexy panther girl outfit for this film. It would add greater interest to the film, especially for male viewers.
A question that always enters my mind every time I’ve seen this film is: If the divers have the ability to leave the diving bell after it breaks from the chain connected to the boat, why don’t they just swim to the top to get help? Why go through the effort of swimming to some underground caverns in the ocean only to be stranded for a longer period of time? This is a part of the plot that doesn’t make any sense to me.
The divers eventually encounter a man in the caverns who has been stranded there for fourteen years. He wears a phony wig and beard, and is dressed like a caveman. In Michael J. Weldon’s book The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, Weldon identifies John Carradine as the actor playing the caveman. I have great respect for Weldon, but it is obvious that he has never seen The Incredible Petrified World; otherwise he would clearly know that Carradine is the oceanographer in the film, not the caveman.
The lesson to be learned from this film: If you’re going to explore the ocean in a diving bell with several people, use a much larger bell, and take enough supplies with you to last for several days. If you leave the bell, swim to the surface for help. Don’t go swimming around looking for non-existent ocean caverns. Always carry a pocketknife in case you need to carve spears to hunt for food. And lastly, don’t allow John Carradine to design your diving bell. If a small bell that barely fits a child breaks when he launches it into the ocean, imagine what would happen if
he designed a bell big enough to actually fit four grown adults? In the meantime, don’t forget your scuba gear, and be careful not to get “the bends” from being in the water too long. Keep an eye out for those sharks too!