People That Time Forgot, The (1977)

The People That Time Forgot (1977)

FIRST ‘The Land That Time Forgot’. THEN ‘At The Earth’s Core’. NOW a fantastic incredible world of savage mystery…

After finding an SOS message in a bottle, Major Ben McBride organises a mission to the Antarctic to search for his friend, Bowen Tyler, who has been missing in the area for two years. But in order to find him, the search party must brave Caprona, the hostile prehistoric land populated by dinosaurs and cavemen.

 

Amicus seemed to hit a winning, if somewhat shallow, formula in the late 70s with a string of loose adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs books starting with The Land That Time Forgot in 1975 and following on with At the Earth’s Core in 1976. Starring Doug McClure and featuring a load of plastic dinosaur on miniature sets, the films were modest hits and to a young, impressionable child like me, they were the best thing since sweets. The imagination and scope of the films extended far, far beyond their meagre budgets and so what you ended up with are films with wear their hearts on their sleeve and try their hardest but at inevitably let down by the stodgy special effects.

Following on from The Land That Time Forgot, this sequel does a reasonable job of continuing the story of Bowen Tyler and how he survived in Caprona. It’s good to see Doug McClure back in the role to add continuity to the series. McClure starred in all four of these Amicus fantasy films and takes the films by the scruff of the neck. Nothing phases him and he emits cool whilst kicking caveman ass. McClure’s characters always had an uncanny knack of instantly understanding and communicating with primitive cavemen before falling in love with scantily-clad cave girls. McClure doesn’t turn up until half-way into proceedings, such is the nature of the rescue mission plot, but when he does, he immediately bosses the film.

There’s a solid cast of familiar actors in supporting roles too. Thorley Walters does another of his ‘bumbling brainy person’ roles he used to do all of the time for Hammer, Shane Rimmer is there as the token American whilst Patrick Wayne must have been hoping that his attempts to become a dashing hero would have more success with Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger because he makes for a bland lead. Also of note must be Dana Gillespie’s cleavage as the cave girl Ajor. If all cavewomen were as hot as she is (and Raquel Welch was in One Million Years BC) then it must have been a grand time to be a man alive on the planet. The characters are decent enough, if somewhat one-dimensional, and they all do the necessary jobs of either explaining the plot or provide the physical attributes to keep the plot flowing.

But for all of the talking that the characters do, it’s the dinosaurs which are the real attraction here and the special effects look just as cheap as they ever did. Combinations of stop motion, model work and men-in-suits are tried with various degrees of success. But no attempt has been made to make the dinosaurs even resemble actual dinosaurs. The clay, plastic, cardboard and pipe cleaner monsters aren’t scary in the slightest. The pterodactyl at the start clearly has no movement apart from an opening and closing jaw and in a later scene there is a hippo-like monster which explodes and is clearly just an immobile prop. There are lots of miniature sets too for these model monsters to stomp around on and there’s a few toy planes and ships flying and sailing around for good measure. This is 1977, the year of Star Wars, for goodness sake, not 1933! For all of the scope and imagination that the film tries to convey (and the cinematography for this ‘lost world’ is nothing short of amazing), it’s let down by the shoddy special effects.

 

The People That Time Forgot is a decent sequel and good cheesy fun with plenty of plot holes, special effects disasters and ridiculous dialogue. For the kids (or the adults who saw this as a kid), this one is pretty harmless and entertaining. It’s got a perfectly timeless quality to it which creates a mild sense of awe and wonder that many a modern blockbuster lacks.

 

 ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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