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Author Topic: ATTACK OF THE GIANT KILLER THING FROM 20,000 FATHOMS  (Read 9476 times)
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« on: December 28, 2006, 02:31:56 PM »

THIS THREAD IS DEDICATED TO THOSE WEIRD, WILD AND WONDERFUL MOVIES THAT THRILLED YOU AT THE MATINEE AND LATE NIGHT TELEVISION.

In 1951 a movie was made that changed the way sci fi was perceived for years to come. That movie was THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD directed by Howard Hawks. Based upon the short story WHO GOES THERE? by John Campbell. The story dealt with an unfriendly alien that assumed the form of its human host in an effort to destroy the human race. For the film the story was changed quite a bit although years later John Carpenter would base his remake on the original short story.

Basically, some scientists in the Arctic find something frozen in the ice. It's taken back to their lab where it thaws out and wrecks havok before being electrocuted. Turns out the Alien is more or less a vegetable from outer space that needs blood to survive. Also, it can regenerate damaged tissue. If a piece of it is cut off, a new creature will grow in its place. James Arness (soon to portray Matt Dillon on GUNSMOKE) is very effective as the alien menace. The music is one of the main components to the films enduring qualities and adds greatly to the elements of horror within the film.

NOTE: Although Christian Nybe is credited as director, Howard Hawks was on set during the entire production and much of the film bears his trademarks and it is widely considered to be his film.

NOTE: Another movie that was integral to the success of the alien invader movies is 1953s classic THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. The award winning effects work, that still stand out today amidst all the overdone CGI flicks that have flooded the modern multiplexes, feature some startling scenes of the alien war ships annihilating everything in their path. The ending is also unusual in that it is alluded to that God ultimately brings about the end of the alien forces.

(continued from above) One of the most notable things about the film is that you never get a really good look at THE THING. It's mostly hidden in silohuette or masked in darkness. Kenneth Tobey is the typical hero of the time and went on to act in numerous other sci fi creature features but never as good as here. Arness of course, went from here to another sci fi opus-the classic from 1954, THEM!. This film started another wave of sci fi films- the giant bug movies of the 50s.

Whereas THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD begat movies such as DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS, THE MAN FROM PLANET X, IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE, all films about unfriendly alien visitors. THEM! bore films with such titles as THE BEGINNING OF THE END (1957), THE DEADLY MANTIS (1957), TARANTULA (1955 features a young Clint Eastwood as a fighter pilot), THE BLACK SCORPION (1957), EARTH VS THE SPIDER (1958), MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL (1957) and THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD (1957) to name a few.

NOTE: The Giant Bug flicks would enjoy a rennaisance during the 70s and would eventually be supplanted by the Nature Gone Amuck flicks during the late 70s-early 80s. These also enjoyed a revival of sorts in recent years with a slew of awful movies made for, or sold to, the Sci-Fi Channel.

The Giant Bug movies were born from the Atomic Bomb scare of the time. Actually the Bug pictures were the result of a film that came out in 1953 entitled THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS from Eugene Lourie and special effects by the great and beloved Ray Harryhausen. Only in that film atomic testing is responsible for releasing the creature from its prehistoric slumber, not its gigantic size. For the bug films, radiation resulted in the various bugs enormous growth.

NOTE: For you Lee Van Cleef fans out there, the man plays a supporting role here as the man who fires the weapon that kills the monster during the finale. Van Cleef also had the main role in the Roger Corman cheapie, IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1956) featuring the first ever giant cucumber from outer space.

THEM!, directed by Gordon Douglas, begins with a little girl wandering alone in the desert. Some police officers find her and eventually stumble on her parents mobile home which has been destroyed. Strange footprints are also found but no bodies. They hear a strange sound off in the distance. In the background, the little girl, in shock, sits up with a look of terror on her face. A house is found later also destroyed and a body is found this time with the same strange footprints outside. The FBI gets involved and sends James Arness to help out on the case. The odd footprints are sent to an entomologist who along with the police officer, played by James whitmore and Arness journey into the desert where they come face to face with the creatures in a great scene.

They eventually scour the desert for the nest. Finding it, they use strong poisonous chemicals to kill the many giant ants then later descend the nest to make sure all are dead in one of the best and most suspensful sequences in the film. They find out that two queens have escaped and must be found quickly before they make more nests and thousands more of the giant monsters. One of them is killed at sea while the other makes its way into the NY sewer systems. There the remaining creatures are destroyed along with the new nest.

The film has many things going for it. The music is very suspenseful and accentuates the terror of the attack scenes. Several scenes have no music which makes those scenes work all the more better. The performances are all very good as well. Although James Arness stars, James Whitmore is the main actor and the shocking finale goes against the formula most films followed during this time. Fess Parker, who would later go on to fame in the DANIEL BOONE movies and tv show has a small role of an airplane pilot who spots the giant ants. The film gets better with age and seeing it again recently, one gets the feeling a remake is right around the corner.

THE BEAST FROM 20,OOO FATHOMS  which came in 1953, started a series of popular movies (some good, some bad) about giant creatures from this planet or another. Titles like IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955), 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957), THE GIANT CLAW (1957), MONSTER FROM THE OCEAN FLOOR (1955), THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN and its sequel WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST (1958-59) and KING DINOSAUR (1955).

Without doubt, the most famous and popular offspring to be born from the box office success of BEAST FROM...didn't come from the US but from Japan. Famed Toho producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was on a flight back to Tokyo and was trying to think of an idea for a homegrown hit in the vein of the American monster film that was also a hit in Japan. As Tanaka looked out the window of the plane and over the sea he imagined a great beast rising from the depths. This is how the inspiration for GOJIRA, or GODZILLA, as it would come to be known in the States, was born.

NOTE: Legend has it the name Gojira, which means 'gorilla-whale', came from a name that was given to a portly worker in Tohos promotional department but no evidence has surfaced to confirm this.

The first film was a serious allegory for the Atomic Bomb and the weapons aftermath. The film was a smash success and was quickly snatched up and released here minus 20 minutes under the name GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS. Raymond Burr, fresh off of PERRY MASON starred in the American added footage which is edited seamlessly into the feature.

Much of the serious dramatic elements were removed for the US release including the several scenes involving Dr. Serizawa and his fiance who is having an affair with another man because he has no time for her, only his work. There is also a hint that Serizawa may be impotent. Other snippets involve additional scenes of burn victims including little children the result of the monster's attack. Scenes suc as this must have really hit home emotionally with the Japanese people during the time as they are hauntingly similar to the news footage of the ravaged victims after the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There are a handful of other powerful sequences that were removed I assume for there rather nightmarish and doom-laden qualities.

With GODZILLA'S popularity at both the Japanese and American box office sequels were assured and 27 followed over the years (the last installment premiered in America in 2005 before it came out in Japan believe it or not) some more serious than others. There are three sets of GODZILLA films- the Showa series from 1954 to 1975. The Hesei series from 1984 to 1995 and finally the Millenium or X series from 2000 to 2005.

Back in America a new type of Fantasy film was born in 1958. The film was shot in color and featured effects by the man who had brought many a monster to life beginning with BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, Ray Harryhausen. The film was the classic SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD...

 

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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2006, 01:07:21 PM »

NOTE: Harryhausen had assisted famed animator Willis O'brien (KING KONG) on the original version of MIGHTY JOE YOUNG.

The first in the famous trilogy, SEVENTH VOYAGE...starred Kerwin Matthews (JACK THE GIANT KILLER) as the Arabian adventurer. Sinbad must travel to a danger filled island to free his betrothed from a spell put upon her by an evil wizard. The film is filled with many stop motion animated monsters, a painstaking process of filming an object one frame at the time. THE SEVENTH VOYAGE...was Harryhausen's first film in color and in 'Dynamation', I presume was the term used for the stop motion color photography. The film was a major success and a highly enjoyable movie for young and old  alike. However, it would be 16 years before Sinbad would grace the silver screen again.

Harryhausen's next projects were 1961's MYSTERIOUS ISLAND which also combined another Jules Verne adventure, 20,000 LEAGUES...when civil war prisoners from both sides, end up stranded on an island inhabited by numerous giant creatures (Bees, chickens, crabs, etc) they put aside there differences to survive until they meet up with Captain Nemo played by Herbert Lom who informs them the island will be destroyed by an erupting volcano. Another hit for the Howard H. Schneer-Harryhausen team. Likeable characters and a sense of adventure similar to the Sinbad films hold the piece together.

NOTE: Harryhausen and Schneer teamed in the 50s on the B/W films BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, IT CAME FORM BENEATH THE SEA, 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH and EARTH VS THE FLYING SAUCERS.

After FIRST MEN IN THE MOON came Harryhausen's most famous film, JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (1963). A timeless and classic motion picture, one of the greatest fantasy films ever made, it tells the story of Jason who searches for the Golden Fleece going from one peril to the next. Harryhausen's best work without doubt. Probably the most fondly remembered sequence involves Jason and a few of his men doing battle with an army of skeletons. An intricate and difficult scene to pull off that took months to finish as the men had to perform the scene against invisible opponents, then the stop motion skeletons were inserted carefully to match the actors movements. The scene where Jason and Hercules (played by Patrick Magee) confront the gigantic living statue Talos and the duel with the 7 headed Hydra are also memorable moments.

Harryhausen even teamed up with Hammer for one film-ONE MILLION YEARS BC (1966) starring John Richardson, Raquel Welch and Martine Beswicke. This film was also a success and Hammer wanted to do another dinosaur picture but Harryhausen proved too costly and meticulous as Hammer wanted to get the film out as quickly as possible. Jim Danforth was hired to do the next dinosaur film for them entitled WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH starring the beautiful Victoria Vetri.

Harryhausen next did a film that was supposed to have been done earlier by Willis O'brien THE VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969). This was a western with dinosaurs. James Franciscus stars in this one. A group of cowboys find an Euhippus, the earliest form of the modern horse only it's very, very tiny. Some local gypsies protest that the creature must be returned to the valley lest suffer the wrath of Gwangi. The tiny animal is stolen and Franciscus and team go after it and into the valley where they encounter many dinosaurs including Gwangi, an Allosaurus. Gwanji is eventually captured and taken back to be put on display in a circus. The gypsies free the monster and it runs rampant eventually doing battle with a circus elephant before being trapped in a burning building where it is killed.

Next came the long awaited return of Captain Sinbad this time essayed by John Phillip Law who Spaghetti western fans will remember from DEATH RIDES A HORSE. Law's portrayal is the best of the series as he (along with a cast of able performers) fully captures the flavor of the Arabian Knights Adventures. In it Sinbad must find the remaining gold tablets that once put together reveal a map of a magic fountain that grants immortality. Tom Baker, most famous from the classic British show DOCTOR WHO, plays the main villain here and does an appropriately menacing job. There are many memorable scenes here but one of the most impressive is the battle with the six armed stone God Kali. The beautiful British actress Caroline Munro, a favorite of horror fans everywhere, also stars. An absolutely stunning soundtrack by Miklos Rosklov (I think I spelled his name correctly) befits the Arabian ambience.

NOTE: John Phillip Law also played Jane Fonda's winged friend Pygar in BARBARELLA and the star of the Mario Bava comic book styled DANGER: DIABOLIK.

In 1977 the third and final Sinbad film came-SINBAD & EYE OF THE TIGER this time starred Patrick Wayne (son of the Duke) as Sinbad. Jane Seymour, Patrick Troughton (another DOCTOR WHO) and Damien Thomas (TWINS OF EVIL) fill out the cast. Sadly, Patrick Wayne is the weakest of the three Sinbads although the film features some of Harryhausen's most impressive work.

NOTE: Patrick Wayne also appeared the same year in the AIP-Amicus co-production THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT, the third in a series of Edgar Rice Burroughs adventures that included THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, AT THE EARTH'S CORE and WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS (all starring Doug McClure).

Initially there was to be a fourth Sinbad picture but it was put aside as Harryhausen and Schneer noticed a changing trend in the Fantasy genre. People were growing tired of these types of adventure films and likened the heroes in movies to be a bit more rough around the edges. The team of Harryhausen-Schneer would ultimately go out with a bang with the classic MGM production CLASH OF THE TITANS.

NOTE: For years CLASH OF THE TITANS was the number two (I think it was number two) most requested movie on television.

A great cast filled out this one with Sir Lawrence Olivier as Zeus, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress, Harry Hamlin and Burgess Meredith. Many brilliant sequences fill out this excellent film from the giant Kraken to the suspense filled (and scary as hell seeing it as a kid) duel with Medusa.

NOTE: The Medusa scene was copied almost note for note (but very sloppy) in Luigi Cozzi's incredible "comedy" HERCULES 2 (1984) starring Lou Ferrigno.

Although CLASH...was very successful, Harryhausen had written a script for a follow-up entitled FORCE OF THE TROJANS. The creatures for this one were very impressive (seen in the exhaustive hard back book on Harryhausen's films released last year) Although MGM at first was interested, the picture never got made. Realizing audiences had lost interest in their kind of heroes, CLASH...was the last of the Harryhausen-Schneer films.

NOTE: Hamlin and Andress fell in love on the set and had a child together from doing this movie. Andress was over 20 years older than Hamlin.

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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2006, 01:12:00 PM »

During the 50s, the Big Bug movies had proved to be big box office and the genre was revived sort of in the 70s with the Nature-gone-Amuck genre. Some examples of them are WILLARD, the sequel BEN (Michael Jackson did the theme song!), BUG, PHASE 4 (a classic that desperately needs a DVD release), NIGHT OF THE LEPUS (giant killer rabbits with De Forest Kelley), JAWS (the most successful), GRIZZLY, DAY OF THE ANIMALS, THE PACK, DOGS, ORCA, DEADLY EYES, THE SWARM, THE DEADLY BEES, TERROR OUT OF THE SKY, THE SAVAGE BEES, PIRANHA, ALLIGATOR, SQUIRM, KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS, SPASMS, EMPIRE OF THE ANTS, FOOD OF THE GODS, TARANTULAS-THE DEADLY CARGO...ETC...

Aside from JAWS and JAWS 2, the most successful (and one of the most successful films of 1976) of these was GRIZZLY. Promoted as "JAWS with claws", the film starred Christopher George, Andrew Prine and Richard Jaekal who try to stop a rampaging Grizzly that's been making meals of vacationers. Some startling violence for a PG film shows just what could be gotten away with at the time. seeing the film today it's not very memorable but the three main leads do a good job of holding the film together. The largest Grizzly alive was used for several scenes. Director William Girdler fired back the following year with in my opinion a superior film, DAY OF THE ANIMALS.

NOTE: GRIZZLY made millions in 1976 and producer Edward L. Montoro made off with much of the profits and was taken to court by Girdler and others to get a piece of the box office pie.

DAY OF THE ANIMALS (1977) starred Chris George again along with his wife (who did numerous films with her husband) the beautiful Lynda Day George, Leslie Nielsen, who plays the polar opposite of his later comedic roles. Here he is the films human villain. Richard Jaekal and Michael Ansara also stars. The hole in the Ozone layer has caused all manner of wildlife to go berserk and attack humans. The finale where the remaining survivors are trapped in a small shed by a half dozen crazed canines is very well done.

NOTE: The films animal trainer was the first victim at the opening of JAWS.

NOTE: Shortly after filming the 1978 film THE MANITOU about an evil Indian medicine man that takes up residence in a woman's back, director William Girdler was killed in a helicopter crash scouting locations for GRIZZLY 2.

KNIGDOM OF THE SPIDERS (1977) is one of the best, as well as one of the best remembered nature-amuck films from the 70s. Here repeated use of various pesticides has killed off all manners of arachnids food supply so they begin attacking small animals then ultimately humans. William Shatner plays the hero along with 70s fave Tiffany Bowling and Woody Strode familiar from countless italian crime and western films. Some truly spine tingling sequences and it's obvious the actors are not faking their terror in the many all too real spider attack scenes. One helluva cool ending caps the film off. The soundtrack is one of the best ever horror scores and was music lifted from the original TWILIGHT ZONE show.

NOTE: Shatners wife at the time also features as the wife of his brother that is in love with him.

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« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2006, 01:14:53 PM »

Bert I. Gordon who had done many of the Bug movies as well as many of the Giant creature films of the 50s started up again with his 70s entries EMPIRE OF THE ANTS and FOOD OF THE GODS, both HG Wells stories.

NOTE: Bert I. Gordon was famous for his less than steller effects work in his films. He was known for usually writing, directing and doing the special effects himself. His effects were taking a real creature spider, locust, etc...and using a macro lens to enlarge it then compositing the shot with live actors. Some of these were KING DINOSAUR (1955), THE CYCLOPS (1959), THE BEGINNING OF THE END (1957 with Peter Graves) EARTH VS THE SPIDER (1958), VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS (1960 starring Ron Howard!) and ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE (1963) among others. These movies earned him the nickname "Mr. B.I.G.", hence his real name Bert I. Gordon.

Gordon was able to get Robert Lansing and Joan Collins for the silly AIP film EMPIRE OF THE ANTS. Collins ridicules the movie in her autobiography claiming the director was not very nice to her the duration of the picture and that AIP would not pay for medical bills should the cast get injured during filming. The movie itself is one of the So-Bad-It's-Good school. However in its defense up until the ants are seen there are several very suspenseful scenes and a very creepy soundtrack. When the macro lens isn't used to enlarge the ants, unconvincing models take their place. The camera shakes wildly during the shots that involve the obviously inanimate ant props.

Killer dogs featured in the obviously titled DOGS aka SLAUGHTER and THE PACK featured Joe Don Baker about vacationers on an island that are preyed upon by a pack of wild, bloodthirsty canines.

NOTE: The Wes Craven produced film THE BREED which has sat on a shelf for the past two years follows this same plotline. It has recently been playing overseas but very bad reviews may mean a direct to video release here.

ALLIGATOR, from 1980, directed by action director Lewis Teague is about a baby alligator that is flushed down the toilet and feeds off an illegal growth hormone that causes it to grow to gigantic size. Robert Forster and Robin Riker along with a scene chewing Henry Silva star. A very popular film although a bomb at the box office, became one of the biggest hits on the ABC network during the mid 80s. ABC even commissioned a sequel, the dismal ALLIGATOR 2: THE MUTATION. A baseball team even purchased the model gator from the film as their mascot (don't remember which).

NOTE: A famous urban legend about alligators in the sewers formed the basis for this movie and shockingly enough, alligators have been found in the sewers by animal control officers in the big cities.

SPASMS is one of the most interesting of the nature-amuck genre. Filmed in 1981 but not released until 1983 the film stars Oliver Reed and Peter Fonda. Reed is a big game hunter who is was after a gigantic snake revered as a God in Asia. Another hunter captures it and Reed has it shipped to the US. Turns out Reed and another Hunter pursued the giant snake before. The other man was killed while Reed, also bitten, did not die but instead now has a psychic link to the snake and "sees" it kill. The snake is accidentally let out by some devil worshippers that want it and the creature goes about killing everyone it comes into contact with. Peter Fonda and Reed team up to kill the giant snake.

One of the films weakness is it seems unfinished as the subplot involving the devil worshippers is dropped midway through. The special effects, particularly the snake itself by world reknowned make-up artist Dick Smith are very impressive.

DEADLY EYES from 1982 was a Golden Harvest-Warner Brothers co-production about giant sized rats (actually dachsunds dressed in rat suits!) that kill and eat the cast including Scatman Crothers. Lots of bloody violence in this one.

NOTE: Golden Harvest was the Shaw Brothers of Hong Kongs' biggest rival. After Shaws got into the US market with, among others, METEOR (starring Natalie Wood and Sean Connery), THE DUELISTS (Harvey Keitel) and BLADE RUNNER (the last two from Ridley Scott) GH did likewise co-producing CANNONBALL RUN 1 & 2 and MEGAFORCE (with Barry Bostwick and Henry Silva).

ORCA from 1977, one of favorites, is often unjustly called a JAWS rip-off which it is not. It has more in common with MOBY DICK than the shark film. A 17 million De Laurentiis production, it starred Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling, Will Sampson, Keenan Wynn, Bo Derek and a young Robert Carradine (soon to feature in the REVENGE OF THE NERDS films). Harris plays a hunter who wants to catch a killer whale and does just that only killing a mother who, in a shocking scene, gives birth to a dead baby whale once on deck. The whale's mate eventually goes after Harris and his crew until he is forced by the townspeople and the whale to confront the creature at sea.

NOTE: De Laurentiis is probably the beginning of the thrift spending Hollywood mogul (not counting Irwin Allen) as he did many seriously expensive box office failures many of which became cult films-ORCA (1977), THE WHITE BUFFALO (1977 a western with Charles Bronson chasing a giant rampaging Buffalo), FLASH GORDON (1980), KING KONG (1976) and DUNE (1984).

One of the most memorable scenes is where Bo Derek has her leg bitten off by the whale. Morricone's soundtrack is also very good utilizing the beautiful voice of Dell' Orso in several pieces. Some complain of Harris' overacting here but I think it suits his character and at the time Harris valiantly defended the film against critics who repeatedly compared it to JAWS.

NOTE: At the films beginning Orca attacks and kills, in rather spectacular fashion, a great white shark (possibly a jab at JAWS). Then, the following year in JAWS 2, the shark kills a killer whale that washes up on shore (possibly return fire at De Laurentiis' film).

PIRANHA from 1978 is reportedly Steven Spielbergs favorite of the JAWS clones (I wonder what he thinks of Castellari's THE LAST SHARK?). A very funny and memorable horror picture from Roger Corman's New World Pictures, is about a pool at an army test site that is drained letting loose a school of experimental piranha that were to be used by the Army during the Vietnam War. The fish eventually gobble up the supporting cast. Some very bloody scenes and a nifty soundtrack by the great Pino Dinoggio (THE HOWLING). A stellar cast too with Bradford Dillman, Keenan Wynn, horror film faves Dick Miller and Barbara Steele, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Bartel (EATING RAOUL). Directed by horror fantasy director Joe Dante (THE HOWLING, GREMLINS, SMALL SOLDIERS, INNERSPACE).

NOTE: A sequel followed in 1981 entitled PIRANHA 2: THE SPAWNING. An Italian production starring Lance Henriksen and Tricia O'neal. Director James Cameron's first directorial effort. Although he retained directors credit he was fired midway through and was replaced by producer Ovidio Assonitis (TENTACLES, BEYOND THE DOOR). Special effects by Italian specialist Gianneto de Rossi. The film also played on television as PIRANHA 2: FLYING KILLERS and early release posters for the film were simply entitled THE SPAWNING (with some great artwork BTW).

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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2006, 01:15:24 PM »

In 1966 Hammer scored a hit with ONE MILLION YEARS BC and another minor hit with WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH. Carreras wanted another prehistoric picture but without the time consuming and costly stop motion effects work. So the third film CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT, became the MOVIE THE WORLD FORGOT as it bombed terribly. In place of dinosaurs there was lots of fighting amongst cavemen and lots of nudity particularly by Norwegian beauty Julie Ege (LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES, THE FREAKMAKER).

Amicus, Hammer's biggest rival, got in on the act and co-produced with American based AIP, three of four films based on Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. All four starring Doug McClure (McClure only co-stars in the third film) and all directed by Kevin Conner. The first film THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975) took place during WW1. Survivors from a U-boat attack take over the submarine. Running out of supplies, they enter uncharted territory and end up in a land inhabited by prehistoric creatures. The two sides form a temporary truce until they can escape and encounter numerous perils including many dinosaurs and cavedwellers alike. At the conclusion it turns out the island is actually a gigantic volcano that destroys the escaping submarine save for McClure and his girlfriend.

In place of the stop motion photography huge mechanical mock-ups are substituted, some more convincing than others. Excellent set designs and a colorful soundtrack are pluses and McClure makes a good leading man backed by a supporting troupe of players recognizeable from various other British horror films.

The second, AT THE EARTH'S CORE (1976) sees McClure and Peter Cushing traveling in a gigantic drill to the center of the Earth and encountering more strange monsters and the stunning Caroline Munro in a skimpy costume. Cushing steals the show as the wily and ostentatious professor who is afraid of nothing and joins McClure in many of the films many action set pieces. The mock-ups return as do the unusual set decoration and another adventurous score.

The third and my favorite, the PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977), is a direct sequel to LAND THAT TIME FORGOT. Patrick Wayne along with Thorley walters, Sarah Douglas and Shane Rimmer take off to find Bowen Tyler (McClure) hopefully still alive in the land of the dinosaurs. After their plane is attacked by a huge Pterodactyl, they are forced to land and head out on foot. They find the gorgeous Dana Gillespie (A protege of David Bowie who tried to help her get a singing career off the ground) who knows where Tyler is. They head off for the Mountain of Skulls where he is being held prisoner. After several cliffhangers they find Tyler and must save Douglas and Gillespie from being sacrificed to the volcano and escape in time before the volcanic island that, according to Tyler, is alive, explodes taking them with it.

There is much to recommend here. Although the effects are uneven, the sense of adventure is more prominent here then before and a rousing soundtrack adds to the high spirited affair. Very likeable characters from the entire cast and it's a shame Wayne isn't as good in his SINBAD film of the same year as he is in this production. By this point Amicus was bankrupt and AIP would produce the last film with Columbia Pictures backing it.

NOTE: Both Sarah Douglas and Dana Gillespie screen tested for SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE immediately after completion of PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT. This film also won an award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.

WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS, the fourth and final of the Edgar Rice Burroughs tales is the most polished of the bunch and benefits from some interesting creature designs. Again McClure stars and searches for the lost city of Atlantis after a giant gold artifact is found at sea. McClure, in a  diving bell, is attacked by an undersea creature and stranded in Atlantis where he frees the people from their enslavers and saves the day...again. John Ratzenberger (Cliff Claven of the hit tv show CHEERS has a supporting role). The first three are available either separately or double feature presentations from MGM. LAND...and PEOPLE together and AT THE...is I believe paired with the Vincent Price undersea adventure WAR GODS OF THE DEEP. Strangely, WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS remains unavailable on DVD in America although it is out in Britain on disc.



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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2006, 01:18:19 PM »

Thanks AC for rekindling wonderful memories of my youth.
Many early saturday mornings were spent watching classic movies
as you described. Who can forget Lynda Day George! She was one of
a few that made going through puberty very enjoyable Cool.

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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2006, 01:52:18 PM »

You're very welcome! I was beginning to think I was the only one who had memories such as this. Now with the advent of DVD those memories can stay with you always. Smiley

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« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2006, 02:04:41 PM »

AC, it's impressive how you can have such a large understanding of so many different genres!

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« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2007, 06:28:32 AM »

This is going to be a nice 2 disc set for Harryhausen fans!

http://www.fangoria.com/news_article.php?id=4325

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Man with no dame
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« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2007, 03:01:29 PM »

Invasion of the Body Snatchers was the best one of the 50's, but you left out Tarantula and Revenge of the Creature with bit parts by Clint. Also House of Wax with Charles Bronson. Loved that Julie Ege. Kiss

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« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2007, 03:06:08 PM »

No I mentioned TARANTULA and Clints bit as the pilot. I did not mention the BLACK LAGOON movies as to me they're more horror than sci-fi. The same goes for HOUSE OF WAX which is clearly horror.

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« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2007, 07:25:53 PM »

No I mentioned TARANTULA and Clints bit as the pilot. I did not mention the BLACK LAGOON movies as to me they're more horror than sci-fi. The same goes for HOUSE OF WAX which is clearly horror.
  Sorry, I must have missed it, Colt. We used to lump all those movies together as Saturday matinee fare when I was a youth.

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« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2008, 10:37:11 PM »


Equinox (1970)


Really tried to watch this much talked about cult film all the way through but failed.
I just couldn't get past the overly talky 40 minutes.
Had to skip to the neat-O stop motion animation monsters for the last half hour of the movie.
Terrible, terrible, terrible.
Now what I saw was the theatrical version. I understand the original one (made by some teens) is about 15 minutes shorter.
Which means it may move along more briskly.
But I can't bring myself to watch this again.
Even if it is a shorter version.


1/10


review (well, kinda) of the criterion release...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i9axnZ0WDc

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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2008, 11:29:38 PM »

This movie looks great.

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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2008, 11:32:38 PM »

This movie looks great.

Precisely my assesment when I saw that review.
Unfortunatly to get to the "great" parts you have to sit through BS dialogue and uninspried direction.
Of course, this was made by teens so that should account for the quality.
If you rent it, skip to the great claymation.

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