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Undersea Kingdom (1936) is one of those great science-fiction "cliffhanger" serials that used to play before theatrical films in the 30s and 40s. In this a fun, 12-part adventure, Ray "Crash" Corrigan plays a naval officer/hero who accompanies a professor and crew on a submarine to discover the cause of recent earthquakes. The crew quickly discovers that the quakes are originating from the lost civilization of Atlantis. When they arrive in the undersea city, they are immediately captured by Unga Khan, evil ruler of Atlantis. The remainder of the story concerns the ongoing battle between Kahn's forces, the crew of the submarine, and the kind-hearted citizens of the Atlantis Sacred City.
As with most serials, you have to check your brain at the door when you watch UNDERSEA KINGDOM and just enjoy the fun story and action. Typical for these programs, the acting and dialog is laughably bad. The effects and costumes are pretty silly (and are reused several times) and the plot has HUGE gaps in logic. But, that is all part of the fun... and there are great things here as well, including an early role for Lon Chaney Jr. and a wonderful design for the evil robot soldiers.
The Roan print is very good, as expected. The picture is slightly grainy, soft, and has its share of minor print damage but is very watchable. As a point of reference, it is similar in quality to the Image Entertainment FLASH GORDON serial DVDs. While not perfect, there is nothing major to distract from enjoying the viewing experience.
The mono sound is rough, but acceptable. There is occasional hiss, pops, and distortion and dialog is not always crystal clear. However, much of the problems likely arise from the original recording techniques used to make the film (which was low-budget even by 1930s standards). As with the video, there is nothing major to complain about concerning the audio.
The DVD includes some artwork and text-based notes as supplements, but not other extras.
UNDERSEA KINGDOM is a real treat for fans of serials. While it certain isn't the best one ever made, it is a real blast to watch. It's truly unfortunate that the advent of television resulted in the demise of this type of serialized theatrical entertainment. The Roan Group's DVD is of very good quality and is an excellent value for the amount of program provided. Highly recommended.