There’s a sequel to this movie called, The People That Time Forgot (1977), that I saw long before I saw this “prequel.” I remember seeing People at night during one of those “Movie Of Week” deals the three major networks used to do back when I was a kid. I can’t remember when I first saw The Land That Time Forgot, but I do remember being surprised it was connected to People, and I remember liking this one more than the sequel. Both are based on novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
This movie is a kind of flashback tale, in the beginning we see a man on some far flung coastal island finding this container washing up on the rocks, he opens it and starts reading the papers within and then we go into the movie. The bookend to this scene is at the end with our only two surviving characters, Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure) and Lisa Clayton (Susan Penhaligon), tossing the container off the cliff into the ocean.
The movie flashes back to the early nineteen-hundreds, during the first World War, and the sinking of a British merchant ship by a German U-boat. A group of survivors in life rafts (Bowen and Lisa being two of them) comes into contact with the very U-boat that sank them moments later and for a short time they’re able to take over the sub. Then the Germans get the upper hand later on and take it back, and then Bowen and his men manage to take it over yet again, but at the wrong time. The U-boat is meeting a ship to refuel and take on supplies, but Bowen doesn’t know that, he just sees an opportunity to launch a couple of missiles at this German boat while Captain Von Schoenvorts (acted by John McEnery, but dubbed by Anton Diffring) and some of his men are up top preparing to greet the ship. The ship is sunk, Bowen and his men are in control again, but now they only have two weeks of food and supplies. Plus, to make things worse, German soldier, Dietz (Anthony Ainley), fucked with the compass so they aren’t going in the direction Bowen thought they were for the past six days. Now, they’re in the Antarctic and close to what Von Schoenvorts believes is this mythical continent of Caprona (pronounced Cu-prone-na), but that doesn’t help their situation until this one day they bring up warm water and a tropical leaf in a bucket. They figure there’s a hidden land behind those glaciers they can park their sub for a while and hopefully find food and water.
Maneuvering it ever so carefully through an underwater route they finally surface in a “tropical pond” and into a primordial land full of dinosaurs and cavemen. Right off the bat they have to contend with a hungry plesiosaur that eats one of the men. All the dinosaur effects are not stop-motion but either puppets or full-sized dino-heads, and for me all of it still held up. They befriend a caveman named, Ahm (pronounced Om), and tangle with other throwbacks who seem to just want them dead. I liked Ahm; too bad he gets killed by a pteranodon, carried off by the pterosaur in its mouth towards the end.
Once on the island both factions decide to put the war behind them and work together, they even manage to set up a kind of camp where it appears by the rather elaborate nature of it they must have been on Caprona for some weeks, maybe even a month or two. But a volcano erupts and threatens to destroy a good portion of the mythical land, this is when Dietz turns traitor, gets everyone back to the sub and attempts to take off the way they came in, leaving Bowen and Lisa behind, but Bowen and Lisa get the last laugh, sort of, as the U-boat sinks with all hands due to the “pond” heating up to such an extraordinary degree it killed everyone on board.
The more advanced cavemen would have nothing to do with the two modern day humans so Bowen and Lisa kept moving North, and this is how the movie ends, as I mentioned, with Bowen hoping to share with the rest of the world everything they went through.
Kino Lorber has this movie in distribution on blu-ray and DVD here in the U.S., but this review is of Australia’s Umbrella Entertainment version that came out last month. You can buy it either from their site or from Amazon US.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1 high definition widescreen—2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio—no subs
I thought the transfer was very good, though you won’t notice what it can truly do until the cast gets to Coprona and you see how all the greenery pops!
Extras included . . .
- Audio Commentary With Director Kevin Connor, Moderated by Brian Trenchard-Smith
Note: The disc has no main menu, and the disc is region free, which means you don’t need a region free blu-ray player to play it on, any US model will work.