Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Land That Time Forgot (1975) & The People That Time Forgot (1977)


          Based on a novel by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Land That Time Forgot is executed with amiable B-movie aplomb. The outlandish tale begins in the Atlantic Ocean during World War I, when a U-boat sinks a British ship. Survivors from the wreck, conveniently led by American submarine expert Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure), manage to hijack the U-boat, only to have the German commander (John McEnry) covertly steer the ship due south, instead of toward America. Soon, the U-boat reaches Antarctica, where the submarine cruises through a tunnel beneath an iceberg and emerges in, well, the land that time forgot: a continent-sized valley populated by cavemen and dinosaurs. You can pretty much figure out what happens next. Sworn enemies have to work together for survival against hostile natives and hungry dinosaurs, and before long everyone’s in trouble because the land that time forgot is about to go kablooey thanks to persnickety volcanic activity. Hate when that happens!
          A joint presentation of U.S. drive-in supplier American International Pictures and cheapo English outfit Amicus Productions, The Land That Time Forgot is silly but fun, a fast-moving lark with laughably bad special effects, so there’s plenty of harmless amusement to be found watching the heroes and their primitive buddies battle carnivorous mega-reptiles. Discriminating adult viewers won’t have a whit of interest in The Land That Time Forgot, but those who remember the joy of getting whisked away by goofy matinee attractions will get a nostalgic charge out of the flick.
          Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine anyone getting any sort of a charge out of the sequel The People That Time Forgot, which cops a few tricks from the playbook of the original Planet of the Apes film series. Like the first Apes sequel, The People That Time Forgot kicks the previous film’s leading man into a minor supporting role and goes for a simultaneously darker and more simplistic story. And like the first Apes sequel, The People That Time Forgot lacks nearly everything that made its predecessor enjoyable.
          Patrick Wayne stars as Ben McBride, an adventurer who travels to the site of the first movie in order to find his lost friend, Tyler. Soon Ben and his companions hook up with a sexy cavewoman, Ajor (Dana Gillespie), who somehow has immaculate makeup and a push-up bra built into her animal-skin costume. Excepting an amusingly goofy mid-air fight between an biplane and a pterodactyl, dinosaurs mostly take a backseat to the creepy primitive tribes who capture Ben’s crew. And whereas the first picture had all sorts of plot complications stemming from things like how to fuel the U-boat for an escape voyage, the second picture is just a series of insipid cliffhanger moments, and the production design is so tacky it would barely pass muster in an episode of Land of the Lost.

The Land That Time Forgot: FUNKY
The People That Time Forgot: LAME

1 comment:

thingmaker said...

Rating these movies in any rational way would be impossible for me.
The first one is rather dull but it does use its primitive special effects fairly well... And, it is not a bad representation of the novel.
The second one has generally worse effects, a star duller than Doug McClure and a plot which, as you say, owes a bit to Beneath the Planet of the Apes, but which only vaguely resembles a combination of the second and third novels. The thing is, I like the second film a lot more. A very big part of this is down to the music by John Scott. Scott's score became part of my playlist: Music to listen to while reading lost world/Tarzan pulp fiction.
I swear, if Scott had written a score for "At The Earth's Core", I'd probably watch the movie again.