MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: AT THE EARTH’S CORE and WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS

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This week’s double feature is actually a sequel to one done a while back featuring two of the Doug McClure/Kevin Connor/John Dark rubber monster fantasy flicks The Land That Time Forgot and The People That Time Forgot. Now we have the other two in this ‘quadrilogy’, the bizarre At The Earth’s Core and, the only one not based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs book, Warlords Of Atlantis. Enjoy this double bill of cheesy monster madness!

 

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AT THE EARTH’S CORE (1976)

Another fun cheese fest from the Land That Time Forgot people, this time based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first Pellucidar novel…adapted by Milton Subotsky…The story has adventurer David Innes (Doug McClure) and his friend, Professor Abner Perry (the legendary Peter Cushing) test driving a deep earth drilling machine and ending up in a bizarre world at the center of the planet. While there, they battle strange creatures, tyrannical bird men and Innes finds love with the beautiful cave girl Dia (Hammer honey Caroline Munro). Will they get home alive?… will David want to, with his Earth’s core cutie now at his side?

The effects are quite cheesy with it’s styrofoam sets and rubber monsters, but free from traditional dinosaur design, the rubber monsters are quite weird and the landscape is quite psychedelic. Director Kevin Connor (Land That Time Forgot, Motel Hell) doesn’t take things too seriously and keeps the flick moving at a fast pace. His cast play their roles straight…though Cushing is delightfully over the top…but do seem to be having fun and so do we. Add some beers and both Land and People That Time Forgot and you’re good to go with a fun Saturday night of rubber creatures and cave girl cuties. Special to me because it was the first film (second film of a double feature with Bug, actually) I saw at the legendary Oritani Theatre in Hackensack, New Jersey.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 buxom cave cuties!

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WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS (1978)

Warlords is the 4th and final of the Doug McClure/Kevin Connor collaborations and this one is based on an original story, written by Brian Hayles, whereas the last three were based on the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. As with the previous films, we are treated to the usual formula of action, adventure and an assortment of rubber monsters. This story finds McClure as engineer Greg Collinson, diving bell builder and part of a expedition in the early 1900s to find evidence of the existence of Atlantis. The crew of the Texas Rose find more then evidence, when they are taken prisoner and brought to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis itself. The Atlanteans are actually survivors who crashed here from the dying planet Mars. They now capture seafarers as slaves and plan to take over our planet with our own advancing technology. But there is one problem, their presence here has mutated a number of lifeforms and now these monsters are slowly destroying the Altantean cities one by one. Can Collinson and crew escape? Will the Atlanteans survive an attack by the giant turtle-like Zaargs?

Warlords isn’t quite as entertaining as some of the previous Connor adventures, the story does get a bit convoluted even for this type of flick, but it’s still fun and the added nostalgia of pre-Jurassic Park rubber monsters and model work really helps. There are an assortment of creatures to amuse, along with the Star Trek-ish sets and, of course, a busty slave girl (Lea Brodie) to add jiggle and love interest to the proceedings. Warlords may not be the best of the McClure/Connor collaborations, but it’s still charming enough for those in the mood for an old school monster movie and the kind of romantic adventure flick that they just don’t make anymore. Also stars Shane Rimmer, John Ratzenberger and dancer/actress Cyd Charisse who still had a great pair of legs here at age 56. I saw this flick in 78 at Edgewater, New Jersey’s ShowBoat Cinema, another favorite movie haunt of mine as a kid.

NOTE: Warlords is not currently available, but I luckily found my old VHS copy for today’s revisit. It’s now transferred to DVD. The first three films were released in the US by American International Pictures and Warlords was released by Columbia Pictures which might have something to do with Warlords’ unavailability.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 buxom… there’s a pattern here… Atlanteans!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT and THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT

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When I was a kid these rubber monster flicks were favorites and when I watch them today they bring back a lot of memories and are filled with fun nostalgia!…

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THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975)

The Land That Time Forgot is a beloved childhood favorite of mine. It’s a cheezy but fun prehistoric lost world pic based on a great story by the legendary Edgar Rice Burroughs. Survivors of a ship sunk by a German U-boat in WWI take over that same sub, but due to sabotage, sub and crew become lost at sea. They find themselves in the Antarctic and an underwater channel leads them to a hidden prehistoric lost world where they now must fight together to survive against giant carnivores of all shapes and sizes and tribes of savage cave people.

Land can be thoroughly enjoyed now as a camp classic from the pre-Jurrasic Park days when dinosaurs were rubber puppets and every movie ended with an erupting volcano. Kevin Connor directs with just the right blend of seriousness and old fashioned charm and the cast, including Doug McClure as Bowen Tyler and the adorable Susan Penhaligon as Lisa Clayton, play their roles straight enough to get us to follow along despite all the table top models and rubber beasties. The SPFX may be cheesy as can be, but the flick has it’s heart in the right place. A very fun flick and a great Saturday night viewing with some of your favorite brews and buds. A rubber monster blast and a lot of cheesy fun! The type of flick they just don’t make anymore!

Personal Note: Saw this with my parents at the now long gone Park Lane Theater in Palisades Park, N.J. where I also saw classics like The Towering Infern, Poseidon Adventure and Jaws. So this flick holds a lot of nostalgic memories for me!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 rubber carnivores!

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THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977) 

Sequel to Land That Time Forgot is also based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs story and is a bit less cheesy as it focuses on the primitive tribes more than the dinosaurs, but is also slightly less fun because of it. Still there is enough to entertain such as  busty cavewoman Dana (Dana Gillespie), who always looks like she just stepped out of a salon and the incomparable Shane Rimmer as a crusty pilot with a grudge against pterodactyls. Flick has Major Ben McBride (Patrick Wayne), a friend of Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure), launching an expedition to the lost world of Caprona after Tyler’s journal is found floating in the sea. Along for the ride is a spunky reporter (Sarah Douglas from Superman 2) who provides McBride with a nuisance/love interest as they search the prehistoric land for his long lost friend. They encounter the usual rubber monsters and Caprona’s ruling tribe, a vicious blend of caveman and samurai.

Kevin Connor once again directs, but doesn’t bring as much fun to this one as he did Land That Time Forgot and At The Earth’s Core. An amusing romp nonetheless and is loaded with nostalgia and charm. Did I mention there’s an erupting volcano? Not as enjoyable as the first flick, but still good fun and another old fashioned action adventure made with a lot of heart! Sadly this flick didn’t open near me and I had to catch up to it when it aired on TV.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 curvy cave girls!

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REVIEW: JOHN CARTER (2012)

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JOHN CARTER (2012)

As a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian Chronicles, I have been waiting for someone to adapt these nearly 100 year-old pulp sci-fi adventures to film since I was a boy. Now after years in development hell, Disney finally brings the adventures of Earth-man John Carter and his adventures on Mars to life. And it’s not quite the classic epic I was hoping for, but definitely not the bomb it’s sadly labeled.

The simply named John Carter takes a lot of liberties with Burroughs’ stories, too many to list here and in result comes up with a tale that is a bit talky and more plot heavy than needed. Burroughs’ books were short, action packed and to the point. So should have John Carter been. The book based story tells of Confederate Captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) who is whisked unintentionally by a series of events to the planet Mars, where he finds an ally in four-armed, green warrior Tars Tarkus (voiced by Willem Dafoe) and love with beautiful princess Dejah Thoris , who has now graduated from the damsel in distress in the books to also being a scientist and woman warrior here, played by Lynn Collins.

Adaptation is directed by Andrew Stanton (director of Finding Nemo and Wall-E) and is not bad. Stanton may have written a lot of dialog scenes, but when there is action, it is fast moving, epic in scale and exciting and he gets good performances out of all his cast. He does set a good pace for a film with an over-complicated plot and he does capture some of the pulp charm nicely in many scenes as well. It‘s too bad he couldn’t follow Burroughs’ lead and keep John Carter a bit simpler and get to the spectacular action a bit sooner. It’s never boring, but there is a lot of traveling back and forth before the plot really gets moving and Carter, with his enhanced abilities due to Mars‘ thinner atmosphere and lesser gravity, gets to the business of saving Mars and his lady love from the devious Therns, who weren’t even in the first John Carter novel A Princess Of Mars. Plot and character development are obviously important, but I still feel the film’s 132 minutes could have been better managed.

Criticisms aside, the film is sumptuously, though somewhat derivative-ly, designed. The SPFX are flawless and spectacular and there is nice atmosphere from Michael Giacchino‘s (Star Trek 2009, Super 8) beautiful score. Stanton does give the film a lot of charm and charm is what makes those century old books it’s based on still so enjoyable. The enormous budget is on screen and despite it’s flaws, the end had me wanting to see more of Carter’s adventures on Barsoom (their name for Mars) as there are 11 books and now that the central characters have all been introduced, we can get right to the fun. And John Carter wasn’t without fun, it just needed a bit more of it and a little less of the politics and conspiracy elements which fill it.

The film also stars Mark Strong as Matai Sheng, Dominic West as Sab Than, James Purefoy as Kantos Kan and a vocal performance by Thomas Hayden Church as Tars Tarkus’ dangerous rival, Tal Hajus. Despite it’s flaws I like John Carter and it has grown on me even more with repeated viewings and it’s status as a box office bomb gives it a bad reputation that it doesn’t really deserve. It’s a good movie, but just not the great one that the source material warranted. But I still recommend you give it a chance if you haven’t seen it.

3 Woolas!

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