A Victorian scientist and his young American backer set off in their new earth-boring machine with a short test on a Welsh mountain. Unfortunately the thing is rather more powerful than expected and they end up in an enormous cavern at the centre of the earth. Here they find a race of humans enslaved to evil oversized prehistoric birds with extra-sensory abilities. The travelers decide they can be some help, the more so as at least one of the slaves is very eye-catching.
Doug McClure ... David Innes
Peter Cushing ... Dr. Abner Perry
Caroline Munro ... Princess Dia
Cy Grant ... Ra
Godfrey James ... Ghak
Sean Lynch ... Hoojah
Keith Barron ... Dowsett
Helen Gill ... Maisie
Anthony Verner ... Gadsby
Robert Gillespie ... Photographer
Michael Crane ... Jubal
Bobby Parr ... Sagoth Chief
Andee Cromarty ... Girl Slave
Hi! I'm Doug McClure. You may remember me from such other cheesy adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs works as, The Land that Time Forgot and The People that Time Forgot.
This movie is hysterical. Even allowing when it was made, the monsters are just bad, bad, bad, bad, bad! All rubber suited things with people inside. There's even a fire-breathing beastie, but don't look at it's mouth too close or you'll see the flame-thrower nozzle poking out. Couple that with Peter Cushing's wonderfully useless "old professor" routine and Doug's stoic hero performance and you'll laugh the whole way through. Carolyn Monroe plays Dougies love interest, though I did wonder where she got cosmetics from, living deep in the Earth. Perhaps the Avon lady calls there.
The flying monsters at the end are particularly silly. They have all the aerodynamic properties (and believability) of a concrete block. Just a bunch of fat blokes in rubber suits. All they do is sit on a ledge and hypnotise people. It's only when that fails, or it's feeding time, that they "swoop" down to attack. And when I say swoop, I mean someone prods the rubber thingy in the back and it swings down on a cable.
Total B-Movie delight. Watch it and be amused. Be very amused.
Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation in which Doug McClure (who was in a couple of similar 1970's genre entries) and a hilariously daffy Peter Cushing play Victorian era scientists who burrow into the inner earth in a giant mechanical "mole" and encounter a primitive civilization that is terrorized by some ridiculous looking monsters.
This kind of reminded me of some of those old 'Spider-Man' (the 1967-1970 animated series) episodes where he'd go beneath the Earth or to remote locations and encounter a non-stop variety of truly wacky creatures. The creatures in this movie are so absurd that I got a lot of laughs out of them. I'm not sure if the film-makers intended this film to be so funny, but that's the way that it ends up. Yes, an adaptation of this story probably could have been better with a bigger budget and better production values, but at least if it's good for laughs - even unintentional ones, that counts for something.
McClure is merely passable, but Cushing was fun in his hammy performance, and Caroline Munro is as always an alluring bit of eye candy.
The sets, special effects, and photography fare a little better than the creature work - this film was moderately interesting to look at.
Overall, I kind of liked it basically because it *was* so darn silly. At least nobody in the cast seems to be taking themselves too seriously.
At the Earth's Core begins in a Victorian factory. It moulds special steel parts as workers assemble a strange machine to Dr. Abner Perry's (Peter Cushing) specific blueprints. Dr Perry has designed & created what he describes as a 'high calibration drilling machine', a machine that he hopes will bore it's way to the centre of the Earth. The day of it's maiden voyage has arrived, the machine nicknamed 'the iron mole' by it's pilot David Innes (Doug McClure), is taken to a hill somewhere in Wales & Dr. Perry plans to burrow through it to the other side. At first things go well but the machine becomes uncontrollable & both David & Abner lose consciousness. Eventually they come round & discover that they have burrowed to the very core of the Earth where they are shocked to find a whole new world named Pellucidar. It's a prehistoric world full of tribes & monsters, a world where the darkness of night never falls. After an encounter with a large monster that has a parrot's head but the body of a reptile Abner & David are captured by a race known as the Sagoth, humanoid type creatures with pig like facial features. The Sagoth are controlled by the Mahar, a race of intelligent, telepathic flying reptile things that rule Pellucidar with the help of the Sagoth. They capture humans & enslave them making them work, the Mahar's also like to eat pretty young girls which doesn't go down that well. When David & Abner discover what the Mahar's are up to they decide to help out the people of Pellucidar by leading a rebellion & hopefully freeing them from their evil forever. To complicate things even more David falls for a Princess named Dia (Caroline Munro) but others want her as well including a dodgy guy named Hoojah the Sly One (Sean Lynch) & a fat bloke named Jubal the Ugly One (Micheal Crane), David has to watch his back as if it's not flying telepathic birds & prehistoric monsters trying to eat him he's getting agro from jealous cavemen...
Directed by Kevin Connor At the Earth's Core was the second in a quartet of similar themed films from the British production company Amicus, the first was The Land that Time Forgot (1974), then came this, the third was The People that Time Forgot (1977) & finally concluded with Warlords of Atlantis (1978) all starred Doug McClure & were directed by Connor. The script for At the Earth's Core by Milton Subotsky, based on the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs of the same name, was very entertaining. It moves along like a rocket, we're at the Earth's core & seeing monsters within the first fifteen minutes & generally speaking the film carries on at a great pace. Luckily it never seems to take itself too seriously. It contains likable characters, good action adventure elements, the obligatory monsters & even has time to chuck in a bit of romance. However, I could have done without the mushy sentimentality at the end. A lot of people seem to criticise the special effects in At the Earth's Core & to be fair they ain't all that hot but they add a certain charm & personality to the film overall. I quite liked the monsters in this actually, from the Mahar's to the giant fire breathing frog creature. Just forget about the obvious wire work or the silly man in a rubber monster suit trying to walk menacingly, sit back & enjoy, you never know you might have some fun as I did. The production design was impressive, Pellucidar looks quite good with it's purple sky & jungle landscapes with it's bizarre plants, giant mushroom's & the City of the Mahar's with it's underground caverns & flowing lava. I also really liked the look of the drilling machine, both inside & out. The acting is OK, I'm a huge Cushing fan & think he's a great actor & I really liked him in this. Cushing plays Abner with a goofy charm, referring to the Sagoth as 'unpleasent characters' or when faced with a rampaging monster he says 'yes, it does seem a somewhat aggressive looking creature' or when the Mahar's try to control him he comments 'you can't mesmerise me, I'm British!'. McClure makes for a decent hero & Munro is fine, if a little underused, as the love interest & again there's a great bit when Dia says 'it's Jubal the Ugly One' to which McClure replies after seeing him 'you can say that again'. Personally I like this type of 'lost world' film & At the Earth's Core is a good example of the genre. On the down side the special effects do hurt it at the end of the day as it's sometimes a little hard to keep a straight face & the film definitely loses some credibility because of it. I also thought that there was a little too much walking around in caves which did start to become annoying, the fact that except for McClure nobody else has that much screen time & I didn't understand the explanation given for the Mahar's power. Overall I think At the Earth's Core is a good Saturday morning fantasy adventure film with a little bit of romance thrown in for good measure that's suitable for all ages, all that's left to say is that bad special effects don't automatically make for a bad film just as the opposite is true.