Monday, September 18, 2006


It's been a while since I've had a Festival of Bad Cinema, so on Friday night I invited my friend GC over to watch a well-paired duo; 1961's 'Mysterious Island' and 1977's 'The People That Time Forgot'.

Both are film adaptations of classic pulp fiction novels, written by Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs respectively. Both deal with modern adventurers cast into a remote, savage landscape dominated by a volcano and populated by giant animals. And both have nubile girls who deal with the coarse shrubbery and jagged rocks of the primitive environment by donning skimpy, revealing outfits.

In 'Mysterious Island', a group of Yankee soldiers escape from a Confederate prison in 1865 by overpowering their guards and stealing an obervation balloon. Unfortunately they do this in the middle of a huge storm, and the winds carry them across the United States and far over the Pacific. When they eventually crash, they find themselves on the eponymous island. All seems pretty normal, until they notice that the local fauna includes oysters the size of dinner plates, crabs the size of caravans and honey bees that resemble winged Shetland ponies.

Who is responsible for all this nature on steroids? Well, who is responsible for anything that happens in a Jules Verne novel? Captain Nemo, of course. He builds giant steel submarines. He blows up annoying ships. He creates giant food animals as an experiment for ending world hunger. He causes the sun to rise and set, and makes gravity work. He is all things to all men, except possibly as an actor.

Fortunately for all concerned, the men are not alone for long on the island. A shipwreck brings them Lady Mary Fairchild and her lovely daughter Elena. Lady Mary brings an air of refinement and decorum to the encampment. He daughter, meanwhile, helps by staving off situational homosexuality for at least one of the men. In addition, when her dress becomes too worn she dons a goat leather minidress, explaining away its lofty hemline as being due to a shortage of goatskins.


Apparently her undergarments are made of more durable stuff than her dress, as frequent glimpses of her enormous bright yellow underpants attest.

In due course the volcano explodes, Nemo is killed, and the castaways escape the island in a captured pirate ship. They set sail for the nearest landmass, New Zealand, where the men will be able to rejoin civilisation and Elena will once again be able to encase herself in the joys of Victorian corsetry.

Pause for a midnight serving of Long Island Iced Teas and snacks...

'The People That Time Forgot' was a sequel to 1975's 'The Land That Time Forgot'. Patrick Wayne, charismatic leading man and son of John Wayne, plays Ben McBride, leading an expedition to Antarctica, which apparently has a subtropical lost world smack in the middle of it, warmed by a volcano and bursting with dinosaurs and cavemen. His aim is to rescue his old friend (and hero of the 1975 film) Bowen Tyler. He's played by actor Doug McClure. You may remember him from such movies as 'The Hellhounds of Alaska' and 'Satan's Triangle'.

'The People That Time Forgot' may have been cheesy and rather silly, but the producers compensated by making sure that there was at least one aspect of the movie designed to compensate for all its myriad failings. And that aspect was called Ajor.


Yes, it's another example of the what I like to call the Evelyn Kraft Effect. No film is so awful that it cannot be instantly rendered palatable through the inclusion of a hot Jungle Girl in an unlikely and immodest leather costume that breaks all known laws of physics.

True, Dana Gillespie didn't literally pop out of her costume the way Evelyn did, but her chestular region was built upon far more grandiose lines, making her presence in any scene strangely mesmeric. GC and I had many moments like this:

Ben: We've got to rescue my friend before it's too late!

Me: (as Ben) Yeah, if I'm not home by nine my dad'll kill me!

Enter Ajor, lightly glistening from the effort of jogging into the scene

Ajor: He's being held in the Castle of Skulls, in the mountains!

Me: Ha ha, so I guess Skeletor is the villain in this... er... movie... um... mountains... yes... uh... what was I saying again?

GC: I've forgotten how to breathe.


Sadly actor Doug McClure (whom you may remember from such movies as 'Tapeheads' and 'Firebird 2015AD') doesn't survive the final flight from the bloodthirsty natives. This means that Ajor is left in the virile hands of Mr McBride... except that he's developed an interest in the frosty but capable Lady Charlotte Cunningham. Poor Ajor is left with the only remaining single man: McBride's superannuated pilot Hogan. And so the film ends with the greatest example of injustice in the the history of cinema, if not the universe.


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