The Land That Time Forgot (1975)

One from the to watch pile…

The Land That Time Forgot (1975)

Film: As a kid, I loved movies and TV that had obviously fake giant monsters and miniature related special effects in them. Harryhausen films and Godzilla flicks were of a particular high level of interest, but even stuff that came from Gerry Anderson, like Thunderbirds and Space 1999 were seen as a great time.

Another type of film, and TV show, I loved was the ‘Lost World’ subgenre. I poured over my Island at the Top of the World View Master set (this was pre-home Video, remember) and I always made sure I watched Sid and Marty Kroft’s Land of the Lost.

I’m assuming this addiction came from an early exposure to Gillian’s Island!

I guess most of these films and TV programs got their inspiration from the stories that legendary authors like Jules Verne (The Mysterious Island and Journey to the Centre of the Earth) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (The Lost World) and Edgar Rice Burrough’s The Land That Time Forgot. I imagine at the turn of last century, the idea of both discovering ancient beasts and exploring were things that young men particularly were enamoured by.

This brings us to this film, 1975’s The Land That Time Forgot, produced by Hammer’s rivals Amicus, directed by Kevin Conner, who also directed Motel Hell and Warlords of Atlantis, and was written by Elric creator Michael Moorcock with James Cawthorn and has a star studded cast: Doug McClure (seen in such films as Humanoids of the Deep and Shenandoah), Susan Penhaligon (Patrick) and Anthony Ainley (The Master From Doctor Who in the 80s).

During World War One, Bowen Tyler (McClure), biologist Lisa Clayton (Penhaligon) and a group of British sailors who are lost at sea, manage to find themselves onboard a German submarine of which they manage to take command.

Unfortunately, one of the Germans destroys the communications equipment and so they are stuck and decide to power on until they are lost, have no fuel left and food for only about a week, when they happen upon the mythical land of Caprona.

Caprona seems to be stuck in an ancient time, but has a mixture of creatures from the many ages of Earth and a bizarre secret.

To survive the two groups decide to band together and attempt to find a way to refine the oil they have discovered in Caprona, but with so many external threats… and maybe a few internal ones, will they be able to survive at all…

Whilst this movie tells an interesting story, it’s slow… especially the first 30 minutes which are disastrously slow. It’s a bright and attractive movie, but it has a few moments where it just doesn’t work. Night scenes that clearly take place in the day but in the thick of the woods, dinosaur puppets that are laughable at best (and remember, I LIKE stupid monster movies), and some creatures change in scale from scene to scene.

To its credit, though, some of the submarine miniature stuff is pretty cool, and it does have a surprising dark ending, which of course leads itself nicely to the sequel The People That Time Forgot, again by Amicus and Conner, two years later.

Basically, it’s an interesting scifi concept told in a slow and uninteresting way.

Score: **

Format: This region B Bluray, released by Umbrella Entertainment, runs for approximately 90 minutes, and features a decent (considering its age) 1.85:1 image with a fine mono DTS-HD audio track.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Sorry, no extras for you!

Score: 0

WISIA: Considering the first half hour feels like 6 days because of how painfully slow it is, if I do watch it again, I’ll be fast forwarding to the dinosaurs!

Torture Garden (1967) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Torture Garden (1967)

Australian Bluray cover to Torture Garden

Film: I’ve always loved anthology films. I probably started with ones in the eighties, like Creepshow, Twilight Zone, Tales of the Darkside and Cat’s Eye, but have since gone back and explored older ones too, like Dr Terror’s House of Horrors and other films of its generation and style. These all seemingly have their origins in EC’s horror comics, and most of the wear their influences well no truly on their sleeves… hell, some are even BASED on those very same comics, like 72’s Tales from the Crypt, and the TV show of the same name.

It’s amazing how most anthologies are horror movies too, as realistically, good horror is like a good joke: everything works to a payoff that’s over the top or unexpected. Horror films are more a long, well articulated anecdote, whereas a good horror anthology is a bunch of riddles, usually, but not always, strung together by a host of some sort, who acts as a kind of comedian sharing his laughs.

This film, Amicus’s Torture Garden fits cleanly into that category. It’s got some great pedigree too: directed by Freddie Francis, who previously directed the aforementioned Dr Terror’s House of Horrors and Tales from the Crypt, not to mention The Deadly Bees and The Skull! Just to round off that level of pedigree is that it was written by Robert Bloch, writer of The Skull, The House that Dripped Blood, no most importantly, Psycho!

Welcome to the Torture Garden, the most horrible house of horrors at the circus, where Dr. Diabolo (Burgess Meredith) will show you the horrors that mankind has subjected itself to with his display of various torture devices… but for an extra five pound, he’ll show you something even more special.

Burgess Meredith as Dr. Diabolo

In his back room, he has a fortune-telling dummy, Atropos, which has the appearance of a gypsy woman (Clytie Jessop) holding shears, and when you look into your reflection in the shears, your future will be told… your terrible, horrifying future.

Watch the futures of a murderous man, Colin (Michael Bryant) possessed by a cat to commit evil; an aspiring actress, Carla (Beverly Adams) who’ll do ANYTHING to become successful at her craft; pianist Leo (John Standing) who’s relationship with a young lady is threatened by jealousy from an unusual source and finally, Ronald Wyatt (Jack Palance), and Edgar Allen Poe collector desperate to see the secrets of a competitor, Lancelot Canning’s (Peter Cushing), collection.

Living doll Beverly Adams!

It’s a fun collection of tales, as mention above, written in that very deliberate style of the EC comics and their ilk. It’s a slow set up to each tale, with a satisfying, though not always surprising ending… you know those times you know the answer to a joke but you go along with it anyway, well this is like that.

It features a solid cast though, with some enjoyable performances and seeing greats like Meredith, Cushing and Palance together is a great treat, but in a world where things like Creepshow and Tales of the Darkside exist, it’s not one of the great anthologies, and this may have something to do with the pacing as the stories are all actually quite interesting.

Score: ***1/2

Torture Garden Bluray menu screen

Format: This Australian region B bluray runs for approximately 96 minutes and it’s presented is a clear, but not fantastic, 16:9 image with an excellent Dolby 5.1 audio track. There is a very occasional artefact, but they are rare.

Score: ****

Extras: No extra for you!

Score: 0

WISIA: If I feel like watching an anthology horror film I’ll probably watch something else before this, but I may watch it again.

Jack Palance and Peter Cushing… acting pedigree!