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May 1978: Warlords of Atlantis

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May. 15th, 1978 | 08:00 pm

In “Warlords of Atlantis”, Michael Gothard plays Atmir, a minor dignitary and spokesperson for a race of alien Nazis from Mars, whose space-ship crashed on Earth, and who, from their network of monster-infested cities under the sea, are trying to manipulate Earth’s human population, so that it can one day supply the technology to get them home again.

Charles Aitken (Peter Gilmore), Greg Collinson (Doug McClure), and the treacherous crew of their expedition ship, are dragged to the bottom of the sea, where they are captured by Atmir and his fish-headed guards, who aim to enslave them, and – due to Charles’ high IQ – make him the brains behind their operation.

During an attack by what look like some kind of plant-eating dinosaurs, and the help of one of the slaves, Delphine, who has already developed the gill-like structures that will prevent her returning to the surface with them, they escape. Atmir sends his fish-men after them, and bombards their diving bell with unspecified explosives, or possibly thunderbolts, but they escape back to the surface.

“Warlords of Atlantis” was filmed on Malta, Gozo Island, and at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, and is generally regarded as one of those B-movies to be enjoyed because it is so preposterous in both concept and execution.

Hal Galili, who played Grogan, previously appeared as an obstreperous Villager in "Arthur of the Britons", in the episode, "Rowena."

Watch extracts, including Michael Gothard’s scenes as Atmir


Jacob Milnestein on 2012 Movies

Finding themselves beneath the waves, the crew of the vessel are mystified to encounter a hidden underwater realm, a pocket of oxygen and sunken land surrounded on all sides by the water and various encroaching monsters.

Greeted by Atmir (Michael Gothard), who is dressed almost exactly like one of the Thals from the Peter Cushing Doctor Who films … the survivors learn of the fate of the missing civilisation, and of the remaining crews of countless other lost ships.

Split up from the others, Aitken (Peter Gilmore) is taken before the monarchy of Atlantis and learns that he is to become one with the collective brain that powers their culture … From here, the film takes a momentary break to dwell on the science gone wild trope, as the former captain of the Mary Celeste … reveals the genetic reconfiguration needed to survive beneath the waves for a prolonged amount of time.

The Atlanteans are then revealed as aliens … intent on returning to their home world and predominantly indifferent to humanity save for their use as resources ...

… Warlords is perhaps one of the finest films Amicus left us with. Far from perfect yet still capable of holding its own against anything Hammer put out at the time, this film deserves to be a lot more popular than it actually is.

Full review

The Film Pilgrim

… Warlords in Atlantis is another solid entry in the ‘lost civilisation’ genre … that has enough twists and turns to keep an audience interested …

Kevin Connor’s direction is a return to the form of The Land That Time Forgot too, and is helped by an interesting script from former Doctor Who writer Brian Hayles, who brings some of the social/political commentary that he brought to that series to the undersea civilisation here.

Like the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs that was previously adapted, Hayles shows the differing social strata of the lost civilisation in much the same way. So we have the alien race, led by their intellect and spirituality, ruling over the working class slaves.

In one of the more interesting strands of the film, the posher and more learned Charles Aitken is seen as a potential ally for the Atlanteans and shown a glimpse of the future which involves scientific breakthroughs and the rise of fascism. Blinded and flattered by the fact his intellect has been recognised he is far from appalled by what he sees. Instead he sees the potential good that could arise. It’s the film’s approach to subject matter like this that gives Warlords of Atlantis a slight edge.

The acting is variable. Doug McClure gives pretty much the exact same performance across all the Amicus films … Peter Gilmore gets the slightly more interesting role of Charles and is very good, whilst Shane Rimmer (recently seen in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows) is a typically gruff and salty sea-captain … Michael Gothard makes for a rather camp bad guy as one of the Atlanteans, whilst Cyd Charisse and Daniel Massey also turn up memorably as elder Atlanteans.

Warlords of Atlantis isn’t a perfect film by any means but it’s an enjoyable, watchable one. That it also attempts to have more of a subtext than most films of its kind also gives it an extra something …

Full review

MacReady on Love Horror

After attacks by a giant octopus (Thrilling!) and what seems to be the Loch Ness Monster (Heartstopping!), Aitken, the American and the crew are dragged down to the underwater city of Atlantis (Unbelievable!) to meet their fate.

As it turns out, their fate arrives more than a little resembling Flight of the Concords Jemaine Clement’s impersonation of David Bowie. His name is Atmir, and he is a badass. Unsurprisingly Atlantis isn’t the friendliest under the earth and the whole thing turns into one big nightmare from here on in.

The group are split up and enslaved (Boo!), everyone is threatened with gill-related surgery (Hiss!), and the rulers of Atlantis turn out to be little better than Nazis from Mars (Genius!).

Full review


… Another nice addition to the cast is Michael Gothard who is quite adept at playing menacing roles, although his character is not exactly menacing in Warlords of Atlantis he still has that ability to instil a sense of authority as the spokesperson for the Atlantean aliens.

Full review

Shaun Anderson on The Celluloid Highway

Apart from a few unimpressive and stodgy monsters which can barely move, their main threat is the preposterously attired Atmir played by a very embarrassed looking Michael Gothard.

Gothard’s descent into low class and low budget mediocrity in the wake of his startling performance in Herostratus remains one of the most perplexing misuses of a career in film history.

Full review


Shaun Anderson's comment is a back-handed compliment if ever there was one …

Perplexing, it may be, but it was not always easy to get work in the 1970s and 1980s. Oliver Tobias, who starred with Michael in "Arthur of the Britons", has spoken of how he often had to work abroad after that series ended.

In any case, it seems unlikely that Michael Gothard’s gut-wrenching performance in "Herostratus" under Don Levy’s harsh tutelage has provided anywhere near as much genuine enjoyment to cinema audiences, as "low class and low budget" cult favourites such as “Scream and Scream Again”, “Warlords of Atlantis”, or “Lifeforce.”

IMDB entry

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