Friday, April 30, 2010

The Land That Time Forgot (1975) / The People That Time Forgot (1977)

When Dinosaurs Ruled The UK!
The Prehistoric Films Of Amicus In The 1970s

Written By: Ken Hulsey

In the early 1970s’ Amicus Pictures (Owned by Milton Subotsky and Max J Rosenberg) decided to pump some life into the declining British fantasy film industry by bringing the works of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs to the big screen. At about the same time the film company’s rival, Hammer, had abandoned its standard horror films for features starring half naked women in an attempt to put more bodies in the seats. Amicus felt that the time seemed right for a series of films based on Burroughs strait forward action tales to fill the cinematic void.

The first of the four Burrough’s stories to be produced by Amicus would be an adaptation of the short story “The Land That Time Forgot” which was first published in Blue Book Magazine in 1918. Milton Subotsky had first penned a screenplay for the film back in the early 1960s’ but his first draft was initially rejected by the late Burrough’s estate. It was under their prodding that the script was rewritten by Jim Cawthorn and Michael Moorcock. Their dialogue heavy, light on the action script however didn’t meet Subotsky’s approval, so it was reworked yet again.

"The Land that Time Forgot" began production at Pinewood Studios in April 1974 with a meager $750,000 budget that had been put up by American International Pictures in exchange for the American distribution rights. This extremely low budget forced the film-makers to settle for cost cutting measures in the effects department. Hand puppets were used for the films dinosaurs in many scenes where costly stop motion animation had intended to be used. The effect looks primitive when compared to modern CGI effects, but for the time period in which it was created, these effects in "The Land That Time Forgot" fared well against most rival productions.

Script problems and hand held dinos were not the only problems the production would face in its early stages. Originally Stuart Whitman was cast as the American engineer Bowen Tyler, but Samuel Arkoff of AIP protested. Their next choice, Doug McClure, finally agreed to take the role after initially passing on it. McClure was billed as the perfect leading man by director Kevin Connor. McClure had earned a reputation as a marketable lead on the TV Western “The Virginian.” On the set however, McClure earned another type of reputation after his tendency to hit the bottle caused him to miss a couple of days shooting and punch a hole in producer Johnny Dark’s office door. Despite this McClure was considered a nice guy by his costars. He even held the hand of a nervous Susan Penhaligon (cast as biologist Lisa Clayton) during the explosions of the films volcano erupting climax. John McEnry, who played the German U-boat Captain von Schoverts, was continually acting up on the set due to his belief that the production was beneath him as an actor. This lead to his voice being dubbed over by Anton Diffrin due to his demeanor and lackluster tone. Aside from this however none of the other off screen troubles manifested themselves in the finished product.

The films plot is a strait forward Burroughs adventure story. The survivors of a torpedoed allied cargo ship turn the tables on their German attackers and seize control of their U-boat. The ever scheming German crew manage to damage the ships compass and instead of steaming to a neutral port, the group finds itself off the coast of the legendary island of Caprona, where time has stood still since prehistoric times. Forced to venture ashore in search of food, supplies and fuel, the crew encounters a bevy of dinosaurs that intend on making sure no one escapes alive. As in all good adventure stories of this type, just about everything and everyone the group encounters is set on doing them mortal harm and danger lies behind every turn. The groups focus is a simple a straight forward one, keep from being eaten and figure out a way to get off the island before it consumed in a river of molten rock. Seems all good dinosaur flicks have to end in some kind of volcanic catastrophe, and this film is no exception, even though Moorcock had originally written it with a different ending.

Two years later, in 1977, Amicus would again visit the prehistoric island of Caprona in a sequel to the surprise hit "The Land That Time Forgot", entitled "The People That Time Forgot."

Again Kevin Connor, would be at the helm of another dinosaur heavy film, based on the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. This time, however, the production team would have a bigger budget to work with, which would lead to the use of higher grade effects, more imaginative sets and more sexy women in the cast.

The film, like it's predecessor featured both a great adventure story and excellent miniature special effect work. However, I couldn't get past the fact that the story was very similar to that of the "Planet of the Apes" sequel "Beneath the Planet of the Apes." Which brings up the question of whether "The People That Time Forgot" was altered to be more like the "Apes" sequel? Or was "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" inspired by the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel? It all may be a coincidence, but there are too many similarities to get into here. Fans who have seen both films should be able to pick them out rather easily.

The film features enough dinosaurs and attractive women to have kept any 70s teen boy on the edge of his seat for the full 90 minutes. Any sci-fi buff would have been satisfied with the cool dinosaur scenes, but the "jiggle factor" didn't hurt the films appeal. Don't get me wrong. The film has a lot more to offer then "eye candy", but if you could keep your eyes off Dana Gillespie (Ajor) for more than a minute you would be a stronger man than me.

The heroines of the film are not just for show. The are both strong and sexy at the same time. In fact probably stronger and smarter than the male characters, attributes many female fans may find very liberating in a 1970s film aimed at a male audience.

The story starts off shortly after the events of "The Land That Time Forgot." The message that Bowen Tyler cast into the sea has been discovered and has made it into the hands of his comrade, Ben McBride, who has assembled a team to search for the fabled island of Caprona.

The team follows Tyler's instructions and Caprona is located. A small group consisting of McBride, Lady Charlotte Cunningham (Who's father fronted the money for the expedition), Dr. Edwin Norfolk (A paleontologist) and Hogan (Pilot) take flight aboard a seaplane in hopes of flying over the islands mountain peaks in an attempt to find Tyler's prehistoric oasis. Their flight however is interrupted by a menacing Pterodactyl who buzzes the plane several times before crashing into the propeller breaking it into several pieces. The team is forced to land on a very rocky hilltop.

No worse for ware the group decides to press on with the search for Tyler while Hogan remained behind to fix the plane. Their trek through jungles of Caprona produce several hair raising dinosaur encounters and one English speaking cave women, Ajor, who befriended Tyler before he was captured by an advanced race known as "The Skulls".

The Skulls, who are clad in Samurai armor, capture the group and take the women to be used as a sacrifice for the Volcano God. Through some trickery and handy sword fighting the men manage to find Tyler, rescue the women and escape the monster filled catacombs.

The Volcano God becomes angry that it did not receive it's sacrifice and begins to destroy the island with explosions and fountains of molten rock.

In the ensuing chase Tyler is killed by the Skulls who intern fall victim to the river of lava. The rest of the group, however, manages to get to the already repaired plane just in time to escape the destruction and return safely to the ship.

Amicus would also produce another film based on the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs, helmed by Kevin Connor and starring Doug McClure in 1976 called "At The Earth's Core". The duo of Connor and McClure would again come together for "Warlords of Atlantis" in 1978, but this time not for Amicus, but rival EMI instead.

Today, both "The Land That Time Forgot" and "The People That Time Forgot" are fan favorites and hold a special 'cult' status among film buffs. I just goes to show that sometimes great films don't need huge budgets to succeed, just dinosaurs and sexy cave women.

The Land That Time Forgot (1975)
Amicus Pictures

Directed By: Kevin Connor
Written By: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jim Cawthorn, Michael Moorcock, Milton Subotsky

Doug McClure as Bowen Tyler
John McEnery as Captain Von Schoenvorts
Susan Penhaligon as Lisa Clayton
Keith Barron as Bradley
Anthony Ainley as Dietz
Godfrey James as Borg
Bobby Parr as Ahm
Declan Mulholland as Olson
Colin Farrell as Whiteley
Ben Howard as Benson
Roy Holder as Plesser
Andrew McCulloch as Sinclair
Ron Pember as Jones
Grahame Mallard as Deusett
Andrew Lodge as Reuther

Runtime: 90 Minutes
Color: Color
Sound: Mono
Released: August 13, 1975

The People That Time Forgot (1977)
American International Pictures

Directed By: Kevin Connor
Written By: Edgar Rice Burroughs & Patrick Tilley

Patrick Wayne as Ben McBride
Doug McClure as Bowen Tyler
Sarah Douglas as Charlotte Cunningham
Dana Gillespie as Ajor
Thorley Walters as Dr. Edwin Norfolk
Shane Rimmer as Hogan
Tony Britton as Capt. Lawton
John Hallam as Chung-Sha
David Prowse as Executioner
Milton Reid as Sabbala
Kiran Shah as Bolum
Richard LeParmentier as Lt. Whitby
Jimmy Ray as Lt. Graham
Tony McHale as Telegraphist

Runtime: 90 Minutes
Country: UK
Language: English
Color: Color
Sound: Mono

More Photos From "The Land That Time Forgot" and "The People That Time Forgot":

1 comment:

  1. oi eu sou surdo, eu compra dvd filme , preço , telefone?



Burbank, CA – March 29, 2010 – Legendary Pictures announced today that they will develop and produce a new film based on Toho Company’s famed GODZILLA character. Through the terms of the agreement, Legendary Pictures has acquired the rights to produce a movie inspired by Toho’s Godzilla, a franchise the Japanese company created and has nurtured for over fifty years.

Toho’s GODZILLA franchise boasts one of the most widely recognized film creatures worldwide, resulting in a series of books, television programs, video games and more than 25 films worldwide. Legendary intends to approach the film and its characters in the most authentic manner possible. The company will, in the near future, announce a filmmaker to helm the film for an intended 2012 release. The film will fall under the company’s co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Toho will distribute the film in Japan."

"Godzilla" is coming back -- this time, with Legendary Pictures taking the lead, co-producing and co-financing with Warner Bros. for release in 2012.

Legendary announced Monday it had obtained rights to the iconic monster character from Japan's Toho Co., which has overseen more than 25 "Godzilla" films. Toho will release the pic in Japan.

Legendary said it's planning to announce a director shortly.

In addition to Legendary, producers on the new film will be Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Brian Rogers. Yoshimitsu Banno, Kenji Okuhira and Doug Davison will exec produce.

"Godzilla is one of the world's most powerful pop culture icons, and we at Legendary are thrilled to be able to create a modern epic based on this long-loved Toho franchise," said Thomas Tull, Chairman and CEO of Legendary. "Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop-culturally relevant for as long as it has."

Legendary noted the film will fall under its co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Legendary's productions with Warners have included "The Dark Knight," "300" and "The Hangover."

Speculation about a new "Godzilla" has been active since last summer. The Bloody Disgusting web site reported in August that the project was in development.