When it comes to doing movie reviews, television reviews, or any other kind of media reviews, I have to admit that I pale in comparison with the reviews that my brother writes at Clyde's Movie Palace which you can see by going to http://clydemovies.blogspot.com/. Not only are his reviews well thought out, but they are also well written and entertaining. I don't have the patience when writing that he has to explain everything or to gather images from the film that highlight parts of the movies that he may be discussing. That is why I post so few actual reviews on my blog.
So, why am I writing a review on a movie from 1975 that most of you would probably never think of watching unless you were desperate? I would feel the same way because I know what kind of schlock movies American International used to release and ultimately, old dinosaur B-movies have never really been my thing ever since the Jurassic Park movies were released.
Well, today I was at Wal-Mart looking for season three of Mannix (which they didn't have) and while I was there I was lookin in what they call their dump bin (if you have ever looked at the price tag on these films, you sometimes see it labeled as such), which in essence is their bin for five dollar DVD's. I just happened to see what MGM called their Midnight Madness Double Feature DVD, which contained "THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT", along with "THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT." I have no ideal what prompted me to buy this over so many other selections, other than I guess I must have been in the mood for some schlocky B-movies.
When everyone else went to bed, I popped it in the player, amd began to expect the worse. The first 30 minutes of the movie barely held my interest, and that deals with their journey to the land, but from then on end it was full blown entertainment.
The movie begins with Doug McClure as Bowen Tyler narrating the events. The story takes place during World War I and opens with the sinking of a British Merchant ship being sunk by a German U-Boat. There are just a handful of survivors as the ship was laden with military weapons which caused the ship to sink abruptly when struck. The survivors are able to take over the submarine when it surfaces. (A little ludicrous but essential to the story continuing.)
However, the Germans, by sabotaging the compass are able to send the British on the wrong course and eventually regain control of the ship which was in actuality heading for a supply ship. It is only when Tyler manages to sink the supply ship that the British and Germans must work together in order to survive, as their supplies and fuel are running low.
Drifting in the South Atlantic, the ship arrives at an uncharted island called Caprona, a fantastical land of lush vegetation where dinosaurs still roam, co-existing with primitive man. There are also reserves of oil which, if the Germans and British can work together, can refine and escape the island.
The rest of the film deals with how the crew deals with the dinosaurs, the warring factions of different tribes of primitive man, and how they go about the task of refining the oil that one of the primitive men, Ahm (Bobby Parr), led them to. Poor Ahm suffers a terrible fate in the jaws of a massive pterodactyl.
Going into to much more of the film would give away the ending. So instead of doing that I will tell you what it is about the movie that I liked.
It has to do with the special effects, which for 1975, and especially since the film was from American International, were pretty much top notch. The dinosaurs were surprisingly well done, and the green screen and rear projection as well as the matte shots that was done in the film were of such quality that I often could not tell that any of it was being done.
Most dinosaur films during that time, and earlier, were usually done with stop-motion animation, just like the original King Kong and the present day The Nightmare Before Christmas. Of course this always resulted in somewhat jittery images of the creatures that has something to do with your brain noticing the lack of blur that would normally occur with actual movement.
Another trick that they used back then was to use actual animals on model sets and then would either the earlier mentioned processes. In the cases of dinosaurs they would take lizards and attach spiny plastic backbones or whatever to give them more the appearance of being a prehistoric creature. This was probably the worse of the special effects and was really hilarious.
In The Land Before Time they used puppets and while the close up images of the dinosaurs teeth were pretty lousy looking, the medium and long shocks were pretty impressive. Plus, throughout the film there was a good variety of the prehistoric creatures.
The set designs and scenery used on the film were spectacular. The integration between actual location shots, stage shots, and matte paintings were so good that I actually never thought about what was real and what wasn't, something that I usually take notice of right away.
The acting is not great, but at the same time wasn't that terrible either. Besides Doug McClure, the film also starred John McEnery as Captain Von Schoenvorts, Susan Penhaligon as Lisa Clayton, and Keith Barron as Bradley. Stuart Whitman was originally slated for the role of Tyler. This being an adventure film, the acting wasn't vital to enjoying it. After all, look at the acting in the original trilogy of Star War's. The acting of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher wasn't exactly Shakespeare.
So, I have to say for a film that I had no faith in, I have to admit that I really enjoyed it, as well as the sequel, The People That Time Forgot which I ended up watching shortly after I began the beginning of this review. That film, which starred John Wayne' son, Patrick Wayne, as well as Superman II villainess Ursa (Sarah Douglas) had something going for it that this film didn't in the form of a young sexy cavewoman played by Dana Gillespie. I'll write a review on that film maybe in the future.
For now, the Blog-o-Rama finishes it's review of The Land That Time Forgot by awarding it an "B+" in it's B-movie reviews.
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