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The Land That Time Forgot DVD Review

Director: Kevin Connor

Starring: Doug McClure, John McEnery, Susan Penhaligon, Keith Barron

Running Time: 86 minutes

Certificate: PG

Extras: Interview with Susan Penhaligon, Interview with Director Kevin Connor,

Synopsis: After sinking a ship, a German submarine is taken over by the survivors of the wreckage. They soon find themselves stuck on a mysterious island where prehistoric creatures have survived…

To celebrate the 50th birthday of Amicus Productions, StudioCanal are releasing a number of previously unavailable titles. First up is THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT. It’s based on a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs (The man behind TARZAN and JOHN CARTER), which means plenty of questionable science and fun adventure.

The film starts with the pounding drums reminiscent of so many adventure B-Movies from the 1950s and ’60s. One must bear in mind that this film hit just between JAWS (1972) and STAR WARS (1977), and as such was somewhat lost amongst the pioneering effects of Hollywood. We follow a container thrown from a mountain as it washes through the sea. Once it is found, a man discovers a note inside and begins to read the account of Bowen Tyler (McClure). This first person narrative proves to be a problem later on as we begin to see things that Tyler would have no knowledge of. (But hey, it’s a B-movie!)

Tyler’s tale begins out at sea, where the mist only further drains the colour from the image. The cinematography is lifeless throughout this film, but it does help disguise some of the more obvious effects. It also adds to the isolation out at sea. A German submarine sinks a boat of civilians, the survivors of which approach the submarine on a lifeboat. They take it over in a rather invigorating action sequence which is played out almost silently. This, like many of the action sequences, doesn’t use music, which is fine because the visuals are enough. There are some discrepancies when it comes to sound design throughout the film. Sometimes punches make a sound, sometimes they don’t, and there are scenes when we hear the same effect two or three times in a row.

After the surviving crew take over the sub, the conflict becomes very interesting. The radio is destroyed, so although they are now in control of the German vessel they cannot approach their allies unless they wish to be blown away. The two sides make a bizarre truce once they reach a mysterious island hidden away in some glaciers. Away from the world of war, they decide to work together. Surprisingly, it’s the German captain who is most understanding – he lives for exploration and science. This is in contrast to our American protagonist, who is actually pretty unlikable as he always uses his fists to sort out his problems. He doesn’t have much of a character arc which leaves us with little emotional connection to the characters.

The island is inhabited by a variety of prehistoric creatures. They all look convincing enough, until they start to move. Despite being hand puppets, they wobble around uncontrollably as if they were marionettes. The flying dinosaurs, though ambitious, just glide along string without a single flap of their wings. When alone on screen, the dinosaurs are kind of realistic in their own way. It’s the details that have been put into the textures of the skin that truly allow our imaginations to accept them.

As the film proceeds we get many interesting ideas on evolution. These are never fully fleshed out, and by the end, one character speaks strongly of God, but they never bring up the conflict between science and religion. I liked that it didn’t pit these two subjects against one another, but it would have been great if they could have said how they are able to live in harmony.

The end is all a bit hectic as a volcano comes alive, dinosaurs attack, and Neanderthals swing clubs. We are also given a selfish villain that is just there to rush an ending. His actions seem rather inexplicable, and are perhaps just an excuse to finish on a dramatic note.

THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT is an enjoyable B-Movie to enjoy on a rainy Sunday. It has strong performances throughout, even if the British cast often seem uncomfortable when interacting or reacting to events that aren’t really there.

Extras: The DVD has two very interesting interviews. Director Kevin Connor and leading lady Susan Penhaligon recount their memories of the film. It was nice to hear Penhaligon’s confession that she often wished she hadn’t turned down a part in The Royal Shakespeare Company to do this.

THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT is available to buy from 30th July.

Luke likes many things, films and penguins being among them. He's loved films since the age of 9, when STARGATE and BATMAN FOREVER changed the landscape of modern cinema as we know it. His love of film extends to all aspects of his life, with trips abroad being planned around film locations and only buying products featured in Will Smith movies. His favourite films include SEVEN SAMURAI, PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, IN BRUGES, LONE STAR, GODZILLA, and a thousand others.

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