Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Land That Time Forgot (1975)

Legendary writer Michael Moorcock wrote the adaption of the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs Caspak trilogy and he turned out a really good film.

The plot has a U-Boat sinking a civilian freighter in 1916. Some of the passengers make it to the life boats and eventually they end up on the submarine that sank them. A game of cat and mouse ensues as the people from the life raft take control of the sub, only to lose it only to regain it. When they end up lost in the South Seas they decide to work together- more so once they reach Caprona, a mythic island where time has stopped and cavemen walk with dinosaurs.

My initial interest in the film growing up was the monsters. In the pre-Star Wars days we'd take monsters any way we could getb them just so long as we got them. Here men in suits mix with puppets and miniatures. Its an odd mix that while not always success in in creating a real place or monster never fails to be entertaining.

The intriguing thing about this film is that if you walked in off the street and saw the film blind you'd have no idea where the film was going for the first 40 minutes. This long passage is a tense sea adventure as the Germans and British battle each other for control of the ship. While there is no doubt that the Germans are much nicer than a real sub crew would be, you are just swept along with the intrigue, which is good because this whole section is actually building characters.

Once the ship gets to Caporna aka the land that time forgot, the audience is bound to be split with half going with the adventure and forgiving the uneven special effects and the other half roaring with laughter at them. I'm one of the guys who just goes with the adventure. Sure the effects suck sometimes, but at least they are giving it a go. Are they the best? No. but I've seen worse and it's the story and characters which count here and they are dynamite. You really do care about them.

The film was one of three Burroughs adaptions turned out by Amicus in the mid 1970's, the other two being AT THE EARTHS CORE and a sequel to LAND called THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT. While each of those films deserve and will eventually get their own reviews, the best of the bunch is this film which over comes its problems to be a completely entertaining popcorn film. Its not high art  but simply a good time.

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