The People That Time Forgot (1977)
The People That Time Forgot (1977)

Genre: Fantasy Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min.

Release Date: July 6th, 1977 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Kevin Connor Actors: Doug McClure, Patrick Wayne, Sarah Douglas, Dana Gillespie, Thorley Walters, Shane Rimmer, David Prowse, Milton Reid, Tony Britton

 


 

M

ajor Ben McBride (Patrick Wayne) journeys on a London Times-funded expedition to the ice continent described in a message in a bottle from his good friend Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure). Tyler has been missing for years, but Ben hasn’t given up on the notion that his colleague is still alive. Starting in the boat Polar Queen before transferring to aircraft, his scouting mission over an Antarctic ice wall consists of British paleontologist Professor Edwin Norfolk (Thorley Walters), newspaper reporter Charlotte (Sarah Douglas, sporting a hairstyle coincidentally similar to Princess Leia), and army buddy gunner Hogan (Shane Rimmer, struggling to be comic relief).

During the first flyby, just out of range of their naval ship base, they’re attacked by a pterodactyl and forced to land. The scenery abruptly changes to a desert-like landscape full of greenery and brown soil. When Hogan quotes 3-4 days of downtime to repair the plane, Ben, Charly, and Norfolk trek across the dinosaur-laden terrain in search of Bowen. What they also encounter is the startled, sweaty, busty cavegirl Ajor (Dana Gillespie), who can miraculously speak broken English, having known Tyler for approximately two years before the prehistoric tribe they joined was slaughtered by a more advanced race of Stone Age barbarians. The last of her people, Ajor agrees to take the search party to the final place Tyler was seen during the raids: the Mountain of the Skulls, where the feared volcano god reigns supreme.

The creature effects still resemble rubbery toys molded out of clay, with ignorance toward details of skin, bone, muscle, and realistic movement. This time, however, the occasional use of elemental factors (such as clouds and steam) slightly obscure the otherwise strikingly fake appearances. Even during a brief moment with a tarantula, the filmmakers can’t be troubled to secure a real spider wrangler (although a live snake is obtained later in the production). Using primarily humanoid antagonists proves to be a more suspenseful choice, though their makeup is sadly low-budget, as well as the more visually impressive but equally shoddy Asian-influenced warrior armor seen toward the climax. And a few well-timed, unintentionally funny monster surprises and numerous action sequences still make this a largely amusing outing.

The acting is as mediocre as most “lost world” dinosaur adventures, with Wayne struggling even in what should be an effortless, enjoyable, fantasy romp, and Douglas unable to convey fright or concern with the slightest degree of authenticity. Although it’s a sequel to “The Land That Time Forgot,” the previous film’s premise is retold offscreen to Charly, who sums it up for the audience in a paragraph or so of exposition, making a viewing of the predecessor far from necessary. Still sourcing material from Edgar Rice Burroughs and using music not quite grand enough for the environments (this time by John Scott), the picture’s most notable qualities are perhaps the extremely coincidental similarities to “Star Wars,” released during the same year: Charly’s hair, the executioner role being played by David Prowse (who also played Darth Vader), one of the ship’s officers being played by Richard LeParmentier (who also played Admiral Motti on the Death Star), and the stratagem to trick guards by dressing in their armor. The blubbery villain Sabbala (Milton Reid), who aims to sacrifice Charly and Ajor to the volcano, adorned with a grotesque little court jester, underground monster pet, and palace amidst the mountains, seems to be a cheaper version of Jabba the Hutt, though that far more prominent character wouldn’t actually make his theatrical debut for another six years.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10