|THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT
|Copyright 1975 American International Pictures
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 22 April 2008
- Bowen Tyler - Doug McClure! Not only is he an expert on submarines, he is also physically tough and willing to get a lot closer to an erupting volcano than I would ever want to be.
- Lisa Clayton - "Please, oh please, won't some strapping man rescue me?"
- Mr. Bradley - The practical British captain was easy to like. I was sorry to see him overcome by poisonous fumes and then sinking into the dark depths of the sea (aboard a German U-boat; life is criminally unfair at times).
- Ahm - Caveman. A Pterodactyl mistakes him for his brother, "Yum."
- Numerous English & German Crewmen - Dino treats!
- Captain Schoenvorts - He might be German, but he is a learned man and not totally unreasonable. Sinks with his beloved U-boat.
- Dietz - He is German and completely unreasonable. Another passenger on the U-boat destined for the River Acheron.
|This is a classic "story in a bottle" film. Some old sea dog (a lighthouse keeper, I think) finds a bottle that contains dozens of handwritten pages. Somewhere far away and long ago, the movie's protagonists inscribed their experiences on paper and cast them into the sea. Fortunately, the bottle is carried by the wind and current to a place where someone could read the story and recognize its fantastic nature. Which begs the question: just how many bottles wash ashore somewhere inopportune? Right now, the greatest story in history is probably being carried around by a pygmy tribesman who is more interested in the bottle than the paper inside.
A German U-boat torpedoes a British ship during the dark days of World War I. Only a few members of the crew and passengers manage to escape before it sinks. Mr. Tyler saves Mrs. Clayton (I think that he and Mrs. Clayton are Americans), while Mr. Bradley's lifeboat is filled with sullen crewmembers (interesting that they didn't rescue any women and children when they abandoned ship). While the two lifeboats bob about, the U-boat commander makes a fateful decision: he orders the submarine to surface to recharge the batteries. The German vessel pops up right next to the lifeboats and the angry British climb aboard. Armed with a pistol or two and a number of wooden clubs, Mr. Tyler, Mr. Bradley, and the men intend to take control of the U-boat when the hatches pop open.
Ha! They are going to play "Whack-a-Jerry!" (At the time, was it "Whack-a-Hun?")
Faced with a bunch of indignant Brits with clubs, the Germans quickly surrender their submarine. Never screw with people who are proficient at beating other people over the head with heavy objects. Anyway, with the U-boat under his control, Mr. Tyler turns them toward England. The first attempt to make contact with a U.K. warship results in the submarine taking fire, so they stop attracting the attention of sailors who shoot first and ask questions later; the men set course for New England. Too bad for them that the Germans subtly sabotage the compass. It is not long before they are far off course and near the coast of South America. Then the Germans retake the boat; Captain Schoenvorts promises Mr. Tyler that he will be executed as a pirate.
Well, that's gratitude for you. If I ever go back in time and take control of a German U-boat, the first thing I am going to do is lash the Kapitan to the conning tower and spend a few hours submerged. Actually, I can see most of the German officers and senior enlisted enjoying a firsthand look at the deep.
Luck shines on the English, because Mrs. Clayton frees them from the makeshift brig and they once again take control of the ship. Bowen pulls a good one, too. He torpedoes the German supply ship that Schoenvorts planned to rendezvous with. The result is something that vaguely looks like "Titanic," but with all Germans. "Auch, mein leiben!" **SPLASH**
Completely lost now, the U-boat navigates through a field of icebergs and discovers a mysterious land mass. Captain Von Schoenvorts believes that the continent is a legendary place named Caprona. Beyond the thrill of discovering an unknown continent, the ragtag U-boat crew needs to find a source of fresh water and fuel. So, when they spot the entrance to an underground river, Mr. Tyler makes the fateful decision to guide the submarine upstream, like a giant metal salmon seeking its spawning grounds.
On the other side of the barrier mountains, Caprona is a lush, tropical world. It is also filled with prehistoric monsters that are incredibly dangerous to humans. Plesiosaurs and Mosasaurs lurk in the freshwater sea, while various dinosaurs populate the land. One of the crew becomes a snack, but Mr. Tyler and the others kill a plesiosaur with a fusillade of rifle fire, so meat will not be an issue. Potable water is a different problem (despite the jungle environment, it never rains). The fresh water that the U-boat glides through is teeming with millions of protozoa. Desperate to find suitable drinking water, a party goes ashore and heads inland along the river. More danger lurks in the interior; the party is beset by a group of cavemen that attack from the rear as a pair of Allosaurus charge the expedition from the front. Again, bullets and desperation save the British and German coalition. I like it that the rifles are lethal to the large carnivorous dinosaurs. You need to shoot them a couple of times, but eventually the bullets do cause the predators to fall to the ground, wracked by death spasms.
One of the cavemen is captured during the pitched battle. He befriends Mr. Tyler and tells the fascinated men that his name is "Ahm." Good old Ahm does not have a large vocabulary; in fact, I think that his sum total of words translate into his name, death, the names of three caveman tribes, and fire. It is the fire bit that interests Tyler, Bradley, and Schoenvorts. They follow Ahm to the land of fire, which turns out to be a pool of bubbling crude oil. The national factions put aside their differences and build a stockade around the oil. Then a simple refinery is constructed with spare parts from the U-boat. Usable fuel for the German vessel is soon being produced and poured into metal drums.
What amazing quality of men populated the world back then! These days, I've seen whiners complain when their new iPod runs out of juice because they forgot to charge it. Mr. Tyler and the others shoot their way through dozens of man-eating dinosaurs, build a fort, and then throw together a system to process fuel for their damaged U-boat. Granted, the film is based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel and the writer's heroes were always men of exceptional talents, but, by God, those were men.
In the course of one expedition into the jungle, the men run afoul of an advanced tribe of cavemen who Ahm calls the Sto-lu. The Sto-lu are mean campers! Their weapons are jawbones (horses, I think, though we never see any horses) lashed to large sticks. They either hurl the weapons or use them like a military pick to impale the German and British men. If anyone else thinks that some stinking caveman using a big jawbone to chop at British sailors is likely to offend the sensibilities of a refined Englishman - well, you are correct.
Eventually, another hunting expedition takes a combined party far up the river. They discover that the river's source is a weird spring that is filled with bathing Sto-lu women (that certainly explains all the parasites in the water downstream). The men are unable to return to camp with their knowledge, because a hunting party of Sto-lu ambushes them. Ahm is snatched and carried away by a hungry Pterodactyl during the battle, while Lisa is taken prisoner by the violent cavemen. Bowen is the only one left who is capable of saving the damsel in distress; with the help of a fortuitous volcanic eruption, he successfully rescues the young woman. Back at the stockade, the violent volcanic activity causes the men to panic. They grab the refined fuel and seek shelter on the submarine. Dietz mutinies and takes control of the U-boat. Bowen and Lisa can only watch helplessly as the doomed submarine attempts to escape the inland sea, but sinks in the boiling water, going down with all hands.
The film has one plot arc that is never completely explored. As the setting moves farther and farther North, the life forms become more advanced. That weirdness was largely abandoned after the volcano erupts, but I kept waiting for Bowen and Lisa to discover an Arcology or fusion reactor. Don't laugh, Edgar Rice Burroughs tended to throw weird plot twists like that at his readers.
The Tomb of Anubis asked everyone to participate in a "Nature runs amok" roundtable in honor of Earth Day. This film has Germans and dinosaurs; that has to count for something. Click on the banner for the supersoaker page.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- The British version of "Marco! Polo!" is "Ahoy! Ahoy!"
- First aid for shock is the liberal application of brandy.
- Never trust the Germans.
- Submarines are perfectly suited for navigating underground rivers.
- Irish cuisine includes several recipes for Plesiosaur.
- "Mauser" is German for "kills dinosaurs."
- Dumb animals take longer to die.
- After earning enough experience, a Neanderthal will level up and turn into a Cro-Magnon.
- There are times when it sucks to be aquatic.
- 4 mins - I used to play the same game all the time at the boardwalk arcade!
- 11 mins - Good gravy, but that must have been painful for the German submariner.
- 21 mins - You could do something useful, like jabbing a pencil into his jugular.
- 30 mins - Quite the understatement.
- 38 mins - Check it out, the dinosaurs love German food.
- 42 mins - Maybe ingesting water with those protozoa in it will be beneficial. Probably not, but maybe...
- 52 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THE TREE OF SKULLS!
- 60 mins - Is Mr. Tyler hunting that Styracosaurus? Did they eat all the Plesiosaur already?
- 69 mins - I think that Ahm might be the first Amish.
- Mr. Tyler: "You tell your men that we're in control and, if you don't, you'll find you and your crew where you found us: in the water."
- Capt. Schoenvorts: "It's the same in the microscopic world: creatures at every stage of evolutionary development - the same with the men, the same with the animals - millions of years of evolution embraced on this island."
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Mr. Bradley: "It's a U-boat. Must be the one that sunk us. Let's take cover until he submerges." |
Mr. Tyler: "No, wait, if we get aboard we can surprise them as they come through the hatch."
Mr. Bradley: "We wouldn't stand a chance!"
Mr. Tyler: "It's the only chance we have! I know these boats like the back of my hand. Now, we've got about two minutes before that hatch opens."
||Mrs. Clayton: "I'm a biologist, Captain. I study the structure of living things, their motivations, and their behavior, but I don't understand you. How can anyone who is so interested in life follow a profession which is devoted to destruction and killing?" |
Capt. Schoenvorts: "The study of nature, Mrs. Clayton, has taught me that life is founded upon killing and destruction."
||Pterodactyls: "Gggggrrraaaaaaahhhhh!" |
Mrs. Clayton: "They look like Pterodactyls, but they can't be. They've been extinct for millions of years."
||Mr. Tyler: "With the sinking of the submarine, all our hopes of getting away from Caprona have disappeared. We are alone, spurned by even the highest, the Ga-lu. So we have to go on in the way of Caprona, until we find peace."
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