Sep 5, 2014

Review: The Land That Time Forgot (1975)

Dinosaurs and "forgotten" or "lost" lands seem to have been very popular subjects back in the 70's. From 1974-1977 there was the TV series Land of the Lost which was relaunched in 1991 and had a movie adaptation with Will Ferrell and Danny McBride in 2009. I suppose the TV series got enough attention that British film studio Amicus Productions decided to adapt the 1924 novel The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

There's some sort of charm to watching these old low budget movies try to do big special effects. Having dinosaurs in a movie is no small feat. Without CGI, it's a lot more of a pain for filmmakers trying to make do with puppets. Not only does TLTTF have puppet dinosaurs, but it also has German U-boats, cavemen and volcanoes. Going by the poster alone, it certainly paints a pretty action-packed picture.


Genre: adventure, fantasy
Directed by: Kevin Connor
Produced by: John Dark, Robert H. Greenberg, John Peverall, etc.
Written by: James Cawthorn, Michael Moorcock
Music by: Douglas Gamley
Running time: 90 minutes
Production company: Amicus Productions, Lion International, Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., etc.
Distributed by: British Lion Film Corporation, American International Pictures, Astral Films, etc.
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Doug McClure, John McEnery, Susan Penhaligon, Keith Barron, Anthony Ainley, Godfrey James, Bobby Parr, Declan Mulholland, Colin Farrell, Ben Howard, Roy Holder, Andrew McCulloch, Ron Pember, Grahame Mallard, Andrew Lodge, Brian Hall, Stanley McGeagh 



Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure) is a survivor of a German U-boat attack. While on a safety boat with some other survivors including Lisa Clayton (Susan Penhaligon), they notice that their aggressors are surfacing above the water. They lie in wait as the hatches open and then take over the submarine. Since the radio on board has been sabotaged, Tyler's only hope is to reach a neutral American port. Instead, their trip strands them in a land where dinosaurs still roam without any fuel left.


The Land That Time Forgot isn't any sort of cinematic classic, but there's something to it. Doug McClure holds his own quite nicely and he handles the more physical requirements well enough. When it comes to the U-boat takeover sequence, it's actually pretty well done and promises some pretty fun low budget amusement. Other action sequences aren't as well executed as this one unfortunately.

I was impressed with the use of miniatures for the ships and submarines as well as for the dinosaur puppets. It's not Toho quality but it's good all the same. It's true that when the dinosaurs are mixing it up with the human characters that it comes off as wonky and unconvincing, but when the dinosaurs are just doing their thing they look great for 1970's effects. The only dinosaur that doesn't come out too nicely are the pterodactyls but that's only one dinosaur failure when there could've been many more. The setting of Caprona which is where the characters find themselves is pretty well executed as well and it looks the part of some sort of prehistoric location.

One thing that became too frustrating to watch however was how dumb some of the characters are. For example, the Germans at one point are able to retake control of their vessel and lock up the men in the brig, all except for Lisa. She gets to stay in the captain's quarters without a single guard. She unlocks her friends when she gets the chance and Tyler and his friends retake the U-boat. There's also another sequence which sees a group of men armed with guns separate in heavy brush only to be taken out one by one by cavemen who are only armed with axes and spears.

The Land That Time Forgot is much better than I was expecting but doesn't quite reach that good B-movie status. I'm surprised at how well the effects are executed but besides McClure, there's no one else who's really any fun to watch. With cardboard people getting taken out by dumb decisions, there aren't very many reasons to become too invested in what's happening to Bowen Tyler's party and that makes it pretty dull in quite a few places. It's not that terrible of a B-movie romp though.



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