Happy Friday the 13th everybody. Unfortunately, I do not have a slasher film to review today. Instead, I have a classic sci-fi film that I own by pure luck. See a couple of years ago, I was looking for some classic sci-fi movies on Amazon. I happened to stumble across a particular collection of movies called The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection: Volumes 1 & 2. This collection had two of the movies I was looking for, another two that I have seen and wouldn’t mind owning, plus six more movies that I was not familiar with. Needless to say, I bought it and have enjoyed watching every movie that it contains. Today’s movie, The Land Unknown, is one of the movies I did not know at the time, but it quickly became a favorite of mine to watch.
The plot: Capt. Burnham is giving a briefing about an upcoming naval expedition to map Antarctica but when he notices the room’s attention focused more on the late arrival of Margaret “Maggie” Hathaway, a reporter for the oceanic press, he calls a brief break. After speaking with Maggie for a few minutes, Capt. Burnham introduces her to two of the men that she will be accompanying on the expedition; Commander Harold “Hal” Roberts and Lt. Jack Carmen. The meeting resumes with Capt. Burnham showing film from the Admiral Byrd expedition of 1947. Two months later, the expedition sets sail and after a couple of months at sea, the reach Antarctica. Hal, Maggie, Jack, and mechanic Steve Miller take off in a helicopter to explore the area, but when the ship radios about an approaching storm, they are forced to turn back. As they fly through the edge of the storm, the helicopter is attacked by a Pterodactyl and the helicopter begins to descend. Everyone prepares for a rough landing, but to their surprise, they find themselves dropping below sea level, as well as the temperature has steadily gone up. When they finally reach land, Jack and Steve begin to look over and repair the helicopter while Hal and Maggie explore the area. Hal discovers evidence of volcanic activity, which he believes is why the area they are in is so warm. Returning to the helicopter, Steve has located the problem but is unable to fix the damaged piece. They begin to get the survival gear out of the helicopter’s storage compartment but Hal warns them that they only have thirty days to get back to the ship or it will be forced to leave, and there won’t be another expedition for years. While Hal, Jack, and Maggie look for a place to set up camp, Steve gets back in the helicopter and tries to call for help, but his repeated attempts only succeed in draining the helicopter’s battery. The next morning, the group is woken up by a Pterodactyl’s cry and they are able to get a better look at where they are. They hear a naval plane overhead and attempt to make radio contact with it but the drained battery causes them to stop. As they work at camp, Steve goes looking for fresh water and discovers the body of a dead Pterodactyl, which he shows to the others. Hal says they should leave the area, as the dead animal would attract predators, but when they turn to leave, the see two large lizards attacking each other. They manage to run from the lizard but end up face to face with a T-rex. They head back to the helicopter, using the rotors to keep the dinosaur at bay. Suddenly, they hear a strange sound which chases the T-rex away but when they return to their camp, they discover it had been ransacked and some of their food supplies were eaten, with evidence pointing to another human that did it. A few days later, Maggie gets lost while running from a giant lizard and ends up being captured by a man, who uses a boat to take Maggie to his lair. When Maggie comes too, she asks the strange man about the others, he tells her that they are dead, but when Maggie looks out the window, she sees them approaching on their boat. Stalling for time, she questions the man, learning that he has been there for ten years and has learned to control some of the dinosaurs by use of a conch shell. Hal and the others arrive and after making sure Maggie is safe, he introduces them all to the man, whose name is Dr. Carl Hunter and he was part of an expedition in 1945 but their plane went down and he was the only one to survive. He tells them that he had managed to save several pieces from his own helicopter and offers to let them have the necessary parts so they can leave, but they must agree to leave Maggie there with him. Hal refuses, saying that they will find the wreck on their own. As the days pass, they continue to search for the wreck, while avoiding the T-rex and carnivorous plants. With three days left, Maggie decides to accept Hunter’s offer so the others can escape, and uses the raft to head to Hunter’s cave. As she approaches the cave, she is attacked by an Elasmosaurus but Hunter manages to rescue her. Steve sees Hunter carry Maggie to his cave, and he follows and attacks Hunter, trying to force him to tell him where the wreck is. Hal and Jack arrive and manage to stop Steve before he kills Hunter. Hunter finally gives them a map to the wreck and Maggie stays behind to tend to his wounds while the others search for the wreck. Hal, Jack, and Steve find the part and manage to repair the helicopter. When Maggie hears them try and fail to start the helicopter, she tries to go to them, but the Elasmosaurus appears at the cave opening and she faints, but Hunter chases it off. When he hears the helicopter running smoothly, Hunter decides to take Maggie back to the others. The helicopter takes off just before the T-rex gets to their camp, and they fly towards Hunter’s cave, meeting them along the river. Using a winch, they are able to bring Maggie on board but Hunter begins to steer his boat back to his cave when he is attacked by the Elasmosaurus. Seeing Hunter in trouble, Jack swings back and they are able to save Hunter and bring him onto the helicopter before the fly out of the chasm. Making their way to the ship, they run out of fuel and crash into the ocean but are quickly rescued by the ship’s crew and as they make their way home, Hal and Maggie admit their love for one another.
This movie is so much fun to laugh at. The acting is ok at best, though I did feel bad for Shirley Patterson (billed as Shawn Smith in this role). It seemed like the only thing she was supposed to do is scream and faint, or at least that is what she did in several of her scenes. The story was yet another expedition discovering a lost world, though I liked how this one was set up. The dinosaurs really made this movie enjoyable. Yes, we had the usual lizards shot in rear screen, which was kind of the staple of classic sci-fi back then. But we also had one of the worst dinosaur costumes I have ever seen in a dinosaur movie. Holy cow. That thing looked terrible, but in a very laughable kind of way. The other dinosaurs were puppets and even they looked pretty bad. So if you want to laugh at some terrible looking dinosaurs, then you have to check this movie out.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5