Fantastic Voyage (Richard Fleischer / U.S., 1966):

Inner space to 2001's outer space, half planetarium, half lava lamp. The normal world offers dull-colored intrigue, the headquarters lab is a huge garage filled with monitors; the party doesn't start until the miniaturization commences on the honeycomb tiled floor, with a giant pressure-cooker lid hovering over a kind of '60s version of Verne's Nautilus. An invaluable scientific mind has been struck in a skirmish with "the other side," a vessel is shrunk to test tube size and injected into the patient's circulatory system for a bit of micro-laser surgery. A saboteur lurks in the crew. Blocky hero Stephen Boyd? Poetry-spouting head doctor Arthur Kennedy? Token piece-of-ass Raquel Welch? Or nice, cuddly, honest... Donald Pleasance? The human body becomes a pulsing navigation canal, each organ is a psychedelic pit stop -- the heart has to be halted for a minute ("Each beat separates a man from eternity," Kennedy sighs), the lungs become a wind tunnel encrusted with tobacco rocks, the submarine ventures past the inner ear towards the brain, a jungle of electrified webs. The Blob informs much of the effects, red cells and gelatinous corpuscles swim a purple ocean while Edmond O'Brien and Arthur O'Connell hold court in their military greens. The voyage never dares venture below the bellybutton, though Richard Fleischer nevertheless sneaks in a kinky gag as Welch, in buxom diving suit, gets tangled in waving fibers ("If the antibodies reach her, they'll attack as if she were bacteria!") and must have the critters peeled off her gasping torso in a zesty group grope. Closer to the Irwin Allen of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea than to the Méliès of Le Voyage dans la Lune, yet often endowed with the absurd poetry of microscopic travelers climbing an optical nerve and exiting in the flood of a tear. With William Redfield.

--- Fernando F. Croce

Back to Reviews
Back Home