MGM's Midnite Movie series continues with the release of two films back to back,"The Land That Time Forgot"(Aug/75) and "The People That Time Forgot"(July/77).Even though the latter film is the third of the series it is a direct sequel to the first."At the Earth's Core"(/76)the second in the series was available at one time but is not anymore.
The Land That Time Forgot,like its' sequels,stars Doug McClure as Bowen Tyler.The film starts with a bottle with a message inside being tossed into the ocean off a cliff.As the opening credits roll it floats onto a distant shore(Scotland,we later learn)and is picked up by a resident there who starts to read the message,which dissolves into the rest of the movie.It seems Tyler was an American passenger on a steam ship which was torpedoed by a German U-Boat(circa 1917).Floating in life boats the remainder of the ships crew with Tyler come upon the U-Boat at the surface.They manage to take over the boat and head for a neutral port.But the Germans sabotage the compass and the sub sails south for hundreds of miles instead of west.The sub changes hands once again into the Germans' and then back again to Tyler and the group.They sail farther until they come upon a mysterious island that the German U-Boat Captain believes is one mentioned but never explored by the famous explorer Capt.Cook;Caprona.
Low on food and provisions they decide to take the sub through a large cavern which brings them out into the interior of the island.It is a tropical but prehistoric land.During their forays onto the island they have some close encounters with more than a few dinosaurs.They eventually meet the native population and befriend one Ahm,a friendly caveman who becomes their ersatz guide.As time passes they learn there are more than one tribe of humans there,each an advancement on the evolutionary scale,with Ahm's tribe at the bottom.To get home they discover and start to refine crude oil for the sub's engines while Tyler and his girlfriend search the rest of the island.When the island's volcano becomes active the U-Boats sub lieutenant opts to take the sub and get out of there,leaving Tyler behind.However strange gasses from the air quickly incapacitate the crew and Tyler and his girlfriend watch in horror as the sub sinks and blows up before their eyes.The two are left stranded,head north on Caprona and send the message in the bottle that the film opened with.
McClure known more for his television work(The Virginian,Roots,etc)never made a major dent in films,but he does a credible job in this series of B pictures.This film was done by the same English company that did "Tales From the Crypt" and others,Amicus productions.Unlike the movie to follow,this film had better production values and the story is far more interesting.The whole German U-Boat part of the plot runs well and keeps your interest.I rate this a solid 3 stars.
The people That Time Forgot again stars Doug McClure as Bowen Tyler but with a much lesser role this time out.The leading man this time around is John Wayne's son David who,like McClure,tried his hand in film work but just didn't have what it took to become a major name.David had an even harder time of it than McClure as his Dad was still very much alive and still casting a big acting shadow from which David could never seem to come out from under.Wayne is Ben McBride who has been persuaded by a professor friend of his of the message from the bottle's authenticity(from the first film) and has under taken this mission to find his old friend.Along for the ride,beside the professor is a camerawomen and his co-pilot.The co-pilot is to help him operate the plane which is stowed on board the ship which is taking them to Caprona.Once there McBride and company head out to find Tyler.At first their plane search is not successful but eventually they find the interior,land and start on their way.They soon run into a fleeing cavewoman who knows Tyler and can speak broken English;taught to her by Tyler.In fact it seems her entire tribe was taught by him but they have been pretty well wiped out by another tribe.It is this other tribe they seek as they are probably holding Tyler hostage.As with the first film the group again encounters more than a few dinosaurs,some harmless but others quite malevolent.Along the way they are confronted by tribesmen riding on horses dressed in Kabooki-like masks.They speak English and say they are there on Tyler's behest to greet them and take them to him.But it is a lie and before you know it all are captured and the two women in the party are now to be offered as sacrifices to the local volcano God.However the men's imprisonment has once good consequence;they find Tyler in an adjacent cell and are reunited.Together they overcome their guards and all escape the tribe and their mountain skull-shaped retreat.However the tribe dogs them all the way and Tyler gets killed before they can reach the plane.McBride and the original party,now with the cave woman, make a shaky and harrowing get away in the plane.They reunite with the ship and sail home.
David Wayne really brings nothing to the acting table here.In fact McClure has a great dying scene in the film in the arms of Wayne;one of the best moments in the film.In fact all the acting is pretty much pedestrian stuff and the plot does nothing to enhance things either.There are many moments where the film is padded with much fleeing footage and not much else which again weakens things considerably.The special effects in regards to the dinosaurs are also cheaper looking this time out.Watch for the wires on the Pterodactyl that brings down the plane at the beginning and watch quickly and you will see human feet under the monster in the cave.I can only give this film 2 1/2 stars at best.
Technically both films here have been transferred pretty well and are shown in their original 1:85:1 widescreen aspect ratio.Other than their respective trailers there are no special features at all.This is of course another DSD,double sided disc,and as always watch out for any scuffs and scratches that either may come with the disc or that YOU may put on the disc inadvertently.I wish they would stop making these things from being made as they are just cheap(i.e.more profits for its' maker)and far too prone to damage.
The Land That Time Forgot is the clear winner amongst these films.These were the perfect Drive-In features of their day and are still good to watch with a beverage of your choice,your favourite main squeeze or family members by your side(great for kids)and a big bowl of popcorn...not necessarily in that order.