The next film to be explored in DK Canada’s hugely enjoyable Monsters in the Movies book as I continue my sojourn through the chapter on Dragons & Dinosaurs is this 1974 film that not only the land forgot, but time too. I can’t say I ever heard of it, and it should have been the thing to play on Saturday or Sunday afternoon movies on some television channel growing up.
Somehow I missed it.
Set during World War I, survivors of a torpedoed British ship are taken aboard a German u-boat, among them, Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure). Not wanting to be held by the Germans, a fight breaks out on board, all while the submarine is running out of fuel, which leads them to land on a remote unknown island.
An island populated by dinosaurs and the occasional neanderthal.
Of course problems arise with both.
The special effects are all fairly solid, except for the pterodactyl, they just look silly, and with the way they move (or don’t) you’d think the heroes would be able to easily avoid them. There’s some nice model work, rear screen projection, puppetry and makeup, unfortunately the story is just dull. There’s no sense of wonder and excitement to everything going on, and honestly McClure’s Tyler needs a slap or two.
He’s just such a typical era American stereotype, all fisticuffs and take charge, and not able to apparently reason or sort things out. He rolls his eyes at things, tries to make glib remarks, and otherwise just comes across as an annoying American tourist in the land that time forgot.
Interestingly, the German u-boat captain, played by John McEnery, seems more fascinated by science than he does his involvement in the war, and I honestly think he could have been the most well-realised character in the film.
Sure, he’s a bit of a baddie, but only because he’s supposed to be, half the time I was watching Tyler’s actions and thinking, really?
And that, and the poorly constructed story seems to be what is really holding this one back from achieving, at the very least, cult status.
There’s an attack on the sub right after their arrival at the island by some aquatic dinosaurs, supposedly plesiosaur, but not that I could tell, that is actually well put together, but that ends up being the only real dinosaur interaction the would be explorers have, except for the occasional meat hunting expedition. Everything else is watching them watch a special effects creation, and not interacting with it.
Jurassic Park is a long ways off.
There was the potential for something really fun, and epic in the seeds of this film, too bad it didn’t come to fruition. Still, at least the special effects were pretty cool. And if you are a Doctor Who fan, watch for an appearance by Anthony Ainley, who played The Master!
Pick up a copy of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies and check it out for yourself, or find a new monster mash to entertain you tonight!