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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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: ROLLERBALL (1975)

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ROLLERBALL (1975)

In a future where the world is no longer run by governments, but by corporations, the world is taught the importance of teamwork and the folly of individual achievement through the vicious sport of Rollerball. Rollerball was created specifically to be a total team sport emphasizing the importance of being one of the team…in other words, following orders and doing what you’re told…but against the game’s intentions, a hero rises, Jonathan E (James Caan). Jonathan is the greatest player the sport has ever known, but a hero is the last thing the corporate heads want and they seek to stop his example of the true power of individual achievement, at any cost. At first he is asked to retire after an illustrious 10 year career. But as Jonathan resists, they begin to change the game’s rules making each competition more and more dangerous till Jonathan submits or is killed. They even interfere in his personal life taking away the woman he loves and giving her to one of their own. But fueled by the obvious assassination of his best friend (John Beck) during a game, Jonathan E has other ideas, even if it costs him his life.

Rollerball has it’s flaws, the movie is very somber and talky and the pace is a bit slow, until the game sequences, which is when the film really comes alive with a furious energy. Director Norman Jewison has a bit more of an artsy style than the film needed, but the contrast between the sober almost sterile everyday life and the brutal viciousness of the Rollerball games does actually work to the film’s advantage. We can see how this game has become the only excitement for the masses and the only avenue to vent their negative emotions.

The good cast all perform well. Caan’s performance echoes the film’s tone. Outside the arena he is soft-spoken and somber, but comes alive when thrust into the competition of the game he loves. At first he is confused and frustrated, but the more he resists and the more he realizes how scared his hero persona makes the corporate leaders, the more powerful he realizes he is. This sets up for a final showdown when the corporate heads (represented by a sinister John Houseman), who…desperate to destroy him…remove all the rules and time limits from the final championship game, turning it into a virtual blood bath.

The film’s portrayal of a corporate run world is probably more relevant today than when the film was first made in 1975 and the depiction of the audience’s bloodthirsty love of the violent game is also more relevant as our own sports events suffer more and more violent incidents at stadiums. So to a degree, this 70s sci-fi thriller actually works better in context with today’s world, than it did in ’75.

A cool flick despite it’s flaws. Also stars Moses Gunn, Shane Rimmer, Maud Adams and John Beck as Jonathan’s ill-fated friend and teammate Moonpie. Avoid the 2002 remake.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) Rollerballs!

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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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