The Neptune Factor

The Neptune Factor
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDaniel Petrie
Written byJack DeWitt
Produced bySandy Howard (as Sanford Howard)
StarringBen Gazzara
Yvette Mimieux
Walter Pidgeon
Ernest Borgnine
CinematographyHarry Makin
Edited byStan Cole
Music byLalo Schifrin
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • August 3, 1973 (1973-08-03)
Running time
98 minutes
Budget$2.5 million
Box office$2,750,000 (US/ Canada)

The Neptune Factor, also known as The Neptune Disaster, is a 1973 science fiction film directed by Daniel Petrie, featuring underwater cinematography by Paul Herbermann. The film's special effects utilized underwater photography of miniatures with actual marine life.


Marine scientists prepare to leave their underwater ocean lab after an extended stay performing oceanographic research. An underwater earthquake interrupts their plans. Dr. Andrews (Walter Pidgeon) enlists experimental sub captain Adrien Blake (Ben Gazzara) to survey the damage and rescue the oceanauts. He brings along chief diver "Mack" MacKay (Ernest Borgnine) and Dr. Leah Jansen (Yvette Mimieux), fiancée of one of the scientists.

Blake finds the lab has been ripped from its moorings and has tumbled down an unexplored, deep sea trench, presumably intact. With the lab's reserve air supply dwindling, the team descends into the unexplored trench and finds an incredible ecosystem populated with monstrously oversized fish.

After surviving encounters with unfriendly denizens, they find the lab partially intact, the surviving scientists breathing from scuba tanks and fending off giant, hungry eels. Diver Moulton sacrifices his life distracting the eels in order to enable the others to be rescued. The submarine returns to the surface with the two rescued scientists.



Sandy Howard, a film producer from the United States, brought the idea of The Neptune Factor to David Perlmutter and Harold Greenberg, who chose to produce the film. Howard wanted the film to be made in the United States, but Greenberg was able to have the film shot in Canada. The film was based on an original story by writer Jack DeWitt. Gazzara and Borgnine's casting was announced in August 1972. The movie has a subtitle of "An Underwater Odyssey".

The film was shot from 25 September to 16 December 1972, on a budget of $2,500,000 (equivalent to $16,164,384 in 2021). The Canadian Film Development Corporation contributed $200,000 to the film's budget under the demand that Daniel Petrie be the director.

The nature of the Oceanlab underwater facility bears a resemblance to real-world projects of the 1960s such as the ConShelf Two project of Jacques Cousteau, NASA's NEEMO, and the US Navy SEALAB.


The film was released on 26 June 1973, in Ottawa. The film premiered in Florida in May 1973 and grossed $203,000 in its first four days.


TV Guide gave the film one out of 5 stars, stating that while its underwater photography was well done, the film was predictable, the characters stereotypes and the story lacking. The New York Times also praised the photography, but found little else of value in the film.

See also

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