Monday, January 28, 2008

The People that Time Forgot: Part 1

The film opens with a view of a very nineteenth century looking ship, considering it’s supposed to be 1918. The ship is supposed to be a Royal Naval one which makes all the sails even odder. Perhaps it’s a special Antarctic survey vessel.

Anyway, on the bridge is a collection of largely British character actors being photographed by Sarah Douglas with a Princess Leia hairdo. Patrick (son of John) Wayne plays Ben McBride a friend of Tyler (Doug McLure) who was lost on the island of Caprona in earlier The Land That Time Forgot. That film was a surprise hit, hence this less well thought of, sequel. McBride has organised this expedition, having found Tyler’s message in a thermos, and it is being funded by Lady Charlotte Cunningham’s (Douglas) father, a newspaper magnate. Son of John (Johnson?) doesn’t want a woman on the trip, of course, and this leads to much not very witty repartee between the two leads (with one exception, see below).

Nice ship, shame about the mountains

Eventually the ship gets ice bound as it reaches Caprona which is quite a bad matte painting which is a shame as the ship model is not bad. Four of our adventurers, Son of John, Lady Charlotte, a bumbling British scientist, Norfolk (played by classic character actor Thorley Walters who in a fifty-five year career was usually cast as a major in the army) and Hogan an American from McBride’s fighter unit in the Great War, set off in an amphibian plane. Hogan is played by Shane Rimmer. Yes, it is Scott Tracy from Thunderbirds. Rimmer made a very good career by playing Americans in lots of British films (although he is actually a Canadian from Toronto). This must be one of his bigger roles.

Nice plane!

After a flight over snowy mountains (a mixture of real ones and models) they barely crest a rise and suddenly there is Caprona.

Equally suddenly there is a pterodactyl. It’s not actually a pteranodon, either, which is surprising for this sort of film.

It's behind you!

The rather rubber pterodactyl attacks the plane whilst Scott Tracey ineffectually blasts at it with his nose mounted machine gun. He was a much better shot in Thunderbirds!

In fact, it is the stupid flying reptile sticking it’s beak in the pusher propeller that does for it rather than the marksmanship of the adventurers.

Ark! Ark!

It squawks pathetically and drops like..well, like a rubber pterodactyl, actually.

Not surprisingly, the plane crash lands and skids across a model landscape before coming to a halt in a barren valley somewhere in Spain. Actually, the locations in the film are far better than the earlier The Land that Time Forgot and convincingly give the idea of a lost continent. Scott, sorry Hogan, is forced to get to work on the plane whilst Lady Charlotte climbs a hill (in a very nice, tight pair of jodhpurs) so she can take a photograph of the plane. She spots some moving spikes and persuades Son of John to pose with them in the background.

All our budget went on flying you over from America

Poor SoJ is surprised to discover that the spikes belong to a rather lumpy Stegosaurus. The dinosaurs aren’t up to much in the film, sadly, and there is no attempt at a realistic skin texture which you would have got if they could have afforded Harryhausen. They use the Stegosaurus to drag the plane out of wherever it was stuck but stupidly hadn’t worked out how to stop the dinosaur running off with the plane. Yes, they hadn’t realised that if you couldn’t get the dino to stop you would need to untie it or be ready with an axe. Sof J has to make a heroic dash with a knife.

Eventually, they leave Scott to fix the plane whilst they trek off to find Tyler. After some typical walking shots we hear a dinosaur followed by a scream.

Dana Gillespie goes for cavegirl immortality

An impossibly busty cavegirl appears pursued by two lumpy dinosaurs which our hero eventually scares off.

Somehow I think they may not be on location in this shot.

The cavegirl speaks English and has a Bowie knife so they soon work out that she was a friend of Tyler. A very close friend of Tyler. And why not?

Ajor, the cavegirl (played by Dana Gillespie, more of whom another day) isn’t wearing a fur bikini but rather a short mini dress. With no front, and slits up the side. But who cares? She looks tremendous in it. Sarah Douglas delivers her line to Son of John “a genuine cavegirl; suit you perfectly!” beautifully and she is one of the best things in the film.

Tyler and Lisa (Susan Penhaligon in the first film) lived with the Ga-lu, Ajor’s stone age tribe and taught them useful things like agriculture, science and how to make low cut dresses. But then a more advanced tribe (there was all that nonsense about evolution at different rates in the first film), the Naga, captured them four months previously and will sacrifice them to their volcano god. They realise that they must set off to rescue Tyler.

Meanwhile. Scott Tracy is happily blasting pterodactyls out of the sky whilst he repairs the plane.

As the others trek over the spectacular scenery Lady Charlotte has to show that she is really a girl underneath, and not a tough old feminist, when she screams like a girl just because a tarantula lands on her. Fair enough, I say.

Suddenly there are two cavemen from Ajor’s tribe running towards them, pursued by a nasty looking bunch of bad guys. What next? Part two soon.

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