There are many ways in which age hasn’t been kind to the Amicus flicks of old (the effects don’t hold up, the stars aren’t as fondly remembered as many others, the silliness of the main storylines often threaten to unbalance everything) but there’s also an intense and ever-growing warm layer of nostalgia that makes them hard to dislike. No movie, arguably, exemplifies those differing aspects more than The Land That Time Forgot.
It starts off at sea with a German U-boat sinking a British ship. Thankfully, it takes a bit more than the sinking of their ship to keep the crew down and they manage to sneakily get to the U-boat and take it over. They then start trying to find a friendly port but are scuppered by the scheming Germans, scuppered so badly that they soon have no idea where they are or how to get home. Things start to look up when they come across an island but as soon as they actually get close enough to dock it becomes clear that this is no ordinary island. Indeed, it seems to be the land that time forgot. Rubber monsters and neanderthal folk abound and the British and the Germans quickly realise that their best chance of getting away from the island in one piece relies on them working together.
Director Kevin Connor supplies audiences with everything they could want from an escapist boy’s own adventure movie. The script may be based on a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs but it’s also notable for the fact that James Cawthorn wrote the thing alongside the renowned fantasy author Michael Moorcock.
The cast is made up of some familiar faces, with the most recognisable being the manly form of Doug McClure. Susan Penhaligon is the main female figure but doesn’t really get all that much to do. John McEnery plays the German captain and is excellent in every scene that he has, moving from determined soldier to simply a man who sees a situation developing that requires co-operation rather than ongoing hostility. Keith Barron may be most familiar to UK viewers of a certain age because of his role in the unfathomably popular TV comedy Duty Free but he’s a very capable supporting player here, alongside Anthony Ainley, Godfrey James, Bobby Parr and a Colin Farrell who isn’t THAT Colin Farrell, of course.
The special effects, well, they are what they are. Charming and made with old-fashioned care and sweat. They’re not all that special but somehow the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia will always make them beyond criticism for viewers like myself who can’t watch the movie without entwining a number of happy memories around it. It’s important to try to separate movies from the memories associated with them when writing a review but it’s also important, now and again, to remember that some movies deserve credit for creating such enduring memories. The Land That Time Forgot is one of those movies. For me, it always will be.
The Land That Time Forgot arrives on DVD on Monday 30th July so remember to pick up a copy if you’re a fan.
DIRECTOR: KEVIN CONNOR
WRITER: JAMES CAWTHORN, MICHAEL MOORCOCK (BASED ON THE NOVEL BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS)
STARS: DOUG MCCLURE, SUSAN PENHALIGON, JOHN MCENERY, KEITH BARRON, ANTHONY AINLEY, GODFREY JAMES, BOBBY PARR, COLIN FARRELL
RUNTIME: 87 MINS APPROX