Warlords of Atlantis

Warlords of Atlantis is a 1978 British science fiction/fantasy film directed by Kevin Connor and starring Doug McClure, Peter Gilmore, Shane Rimmer, and Lea Brodie. The plot concerns a trip to the lost world of Atlantis. The screenplay was by Brian Hayles. It was filmed in colour with monaural sound and English dialogue, and runs for 96 minutes. Warlords of Atlantis received a Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating of PG. It was novelised by Paul Victor. The film has also been released under the title Warlords of the Deep.

Warlords of Atlantis
Directed byKevin Connor
Produced byJim Brown (producer)
John Dark
Written byBrian Hayles
StarringDoug McClure
Peter Gilmore
Shane Rimmer
Lea Brodie
Music byMike Vickers
Edited byBill Blunden
Distributed byColumbia
Release date
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$2 million[1]


Around the beginning of the 20th century, British archaeologist Professor Aitken and his son, Charles, have chartered a ship called the Texas Rose to take them out to sea, where they plan to dive underwater in a diving bell designed by engineer Greg Collinson. Although everyone aboard the ship, including Greg, thinks that the Professors Aitken are just going to look at fish, Charles and his father are secretly searching for proof of the existence of the lost city of Atlantis. He and Greg find it on their first dive, but are attacked by a reptilian sea monster, which comes through the bottom of the diving bell, but Greg is able to fend it off by sticking a live wire into its mouth, electrocuting it.

Immediately following this, Greg and Charles discover a statue made of solid gold, which is then hoisted up to the Texas Rose. Deckhands Grogan, Fenn and Jacko desire the gold statue for themselves and hatch a scheme to steal it. Grogan cuts the line to the diving bell, trapping Greg and Charles at the bottom of the sea, and then one of the three mutinous sailors shoots the elder Professor Aitken in the back. As Grogan goes to attack Daniels, the Texas Rose's captain, a gigantic octopus known as the Sentinel, sent by the inhabitants of Atlantis, attacks the ship. Daniels, Grogan, Fenn and Jacko are kidnapped by the octopus and taken to Atlantis along with Greg and Charles in the diving bell.

The six castaways find themselves washed ashore within a vast, air-filled cavern beneath the ocean floor. Here they are greeted by Atmir, one of the Atlantean ruling class, and the eyeless-helmeted, spear-wielding Guardians, who promise to take them "to safety". En route, Greg, Charles and the others are told by Atmir that Atlantis is not just one city, but seven cities, the first two of which have been "lost beneath the waters of the outer limits forever" and the third one, Troya, is now deserted and empty. Atmir takes the surface-dwellers through the causeway, a prehistoric swamp inhabited by a millipede-like monster called the Mogdaan, and then on to Vaar, the fourth city. Once here, Greg and the others are thrown into a dungeon — all, that is, except for Charles. As a scientist, he is deemed intelligent enough to be granted an audience with Atraxon and Atsil, the king and queen of Atlantis in Chinqua, the fifth city. They wish to make Charles one of them, and explain how they originally came from Mars and are using their mind powers to shape human history.

Meanwhile, Greg and the Texas Rose crew make friends with Briggs, the captain of the Mary Celeste and unofficial leader of the Atlanteans' human slaves, and his daughter, Delphine. Briggs informs them they are to be slaves to protect Vaar from the constant attacks of creatures known as Zaargs. They will be given gills so they can never leave Atlantis and return to the oxygen-rich surface world, as the Atlanteans, being originally from Mars, breathe a different atmosphere. A convenient Zaarg attack allows Greg and the others to escape from their cell, but also claims the life of Briggs who is devoured by a Zaarg. With her father dead, a distraught Delphine helps Greg and the crew escape from their cells and shows them a way into Atraxon's palace in Chinqua through the sewers so that they can rescue Charles.

Greg, Daniels and Grogan go with her, leaving Fenn and Jacko to guard the tunnel entrance. Charles is enjoying his newfound status amongst the intellectual Atlanteans and may not even want to be rescued, especially once they show him the "utopia" they aim to create on Earth, leaving him drunk with dreams of power.

When they finally reach Charles, he refuses to leave, but Greg deals him a knock-out blow and they carry him away from the influence of the Atlanteans. After regaining consciousness, Charles then clears his head and chooses to escape with Greg and the rest. They steal some rifles the Atlantians have acquired from a ship they plundered and retrace the route they took through the causeway when being brought to Vaar.

They again encounter the Mogdaan, which kills Jacko, and just about make it through a swamp filled with piranha-like fish that leap out of the water, before finally reaching the diving bell. However, Admir and the Guardians are there waiting for them, having used underground canals to rush ahead to retrieve Charles. Using some form of telekinesis, Admir causes the sea water to erupt violently so as to discourage Greg and the rest from fleeing. But they take a chance and dive into the water, while Delphine, who Greg knows cannot leave with them, covers their escape.

Greg bids Delphine farewell and joins the rest in the diving bell, which he manages to get working, and they escape from Atlantis. They rise to the surface (somehow without a cable lifting) and make it back to the Texas Rose. Once on deck they are met by Sandy, the ship's cabin boy, who has been caring for Charles' father since he was shot. Holding Fenn and Grogan at gun point, he tells Greg and Charles what had happened while they were in the diving bell.

Daniels convinces Sandy to hand over the pistols, but then points them at Sandy, Greg and Charles, revealing that it was he who shot the professor, who had refused his offer to make a profit out of their discovery. Fenn and Grogan lock them up with Charles' father, but as they ponder on what to do with them, the Sentinel attacks and begins to tear the ship apart. Daniels is crushed by the statue, while everyone else escapes by life boat. Adrift, Charles jokes “We'll just have to be better prepared next time”.



The film was the fourth action-fantasy collaboration between Kevin Connor and Doug McClure. The first three were made by Amicus Productions, which had since wound up: this movie was made EMI Films, then run by Michael Deeley and Barry Spikings, and Columbia.[2][3]

Filming started 5 September 1977. Location filming on Malta began on 1 October. A large amount of footage was shot on the island of Gozo. Filming ended 13 January 1978.[4]


The film was originally known as Atlantis. However it was decided to change the title to avoid confusion with Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961). So the title became 7 Cities of Atlantis. Then the TV series The Man from Atlantis flopped and executives did not want to associate the film with that show, so it became Warlords of the Deep. However Columbia, who partly financed, thought this was too close to The Deep so the title was changed again to Warlords of Atlantis.[5][6]


Box office

The film was the 15th most successful movie in the UK in 1978.[2][7]


Variety noted "The one not inconsiderable virtue of the script is that it keeps the pot boiling. Direction by Kevin Connor and the editing keep the eye-filling pace brisk. The cliched characters are played in workmanlike fashion by all hands";[8] Time Out wrote "As always, Connor's approach is commendably stolid, but this production lacks almost all the more pleasing elements of the earlier movies, and is sickeningly vulgar in its portrayal of Atlantis, right down to the leering emphasis on Cyd Charisse's legs";[9] TV Guide wrote "It's silly but harmless and won't offend anyone under 12 years of age";[10] and The Spinning Image noted the film was "scripted by former Doctor Who writer Brian Hayles, and has a similar strain of British idiosyncrasy about it, despite being an American co-production. Rest assured, the rubber monsters familiar from the first three films are present and correct, as is the piling on of incident and special effects, regardless of how convincing they are on screen...it's a fairly enjoyable ride with generally witty perfomances [sic] and plentiful action. And where else can you get to see Doug McClure beat up Cliff from Cheers?"[11]


The novelisation by Paul Victor was published in 1978, as a tie-in to the film, by Futura Publications Limited. Told entirely from the point of view of Greg Collinson, it follows the movie more or less faithfully. Notable changes, however, include the addition of a fourth crew member, Chuck, and the attack by flying fish — which in the film occurs as the surface-dwellers are escaping across the causeway — happens much earlier during their approach to Vaar.


  1. Alexander Walker, National Heroes: British Cinema in the Seventies and Eighties, Harrap, 1985 p 195
  2. Ed. Allan Bryce, Amicus: The Studio That Dripped Blood, Stray Cat Publishing, 2000 p 152
  3. Can Rank say they 'proudly' present this film? Barker, Dennis. The Guardian 26 Nov 1977: 17.
  4. O'Brien, Catherine; Crawley, Tony (1978). "Warlords of the Deep". Halls of Horror. pp. 34–41.
  5. "Media Macarbe". House of Horror (15 ed.). 1978. p. 15.
  6. "7 Cities of Atlantis". Cinefantastique. 1978. p. 41.
  7. Harper, Sue (2011). British Film Culture in the 1970s: The Boundaries of Pleasure: The Boundaries of Pleasure. Edinburgh University Press. p. 273.
  8. Staff, Variety (1 January 1978). "Warlords of Atlantis".
  9. "Warlords of Atlantis, directed by Kevin Connor - Film review".
  10. "Warlords Of Atlantis - TV Guide". TVGuide.com.
  11. "Warlords of Atlantis Review (1978)". www.thespinningimage.co.uk.
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