Following their triumphant 2015 Blu-ray release of THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, Kino Lorber (with Scorpion Releasing) now bestow the same honor to American International Pictures’ (AIP's) smart sequel THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT, a grand adventure which picks up right where LAND left off.
During the First World War, Bowen Tyler (THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT’s Doug McClure, who now makes a "guest" appearance) was marooned on the lost island of Caprona, having battled German soldiers, cavemen and prehistoric creatures. Years later, a canister containing a note by Tyler is discovered off the coast of Scotland. His long-time friend Major Ben McBride (Patrick Wayne, THE GREEN BERETS) sets up a rescue expedition to see for himself Tyler's incredible claims about Caprona. Along for the journey are Lady Charlotte 'Charlie' Cunningham (Sarah Douglas, SUPERMAN II), an attractive and gutsy newspaper photographer, distinguished English paleontologist Norfolk (Hammer Films regular Thorley Walters, FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED, VAMPIRE CIRCUS), and rugged airplane mechanic Hogan (Shane Rimmer, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME). They fly into the island in an aircraft that barely manages to lift its four passengers above the tall ice-cliffs. The plane is then damaged by a feisty pterodactyl, forcing them to land and take off on foot, leaving the mechanic behind to try and make repairs. During their excursion they meet Ajor (Dana Gillespie, Hammer’s THE LOST CONTINENT), a voluptuous native girl who has learned to speak English from Tyler, and she is able to help them find him. Tyler has been taken prisoner by a barbarous tribe called the Nagas who have a nasty habit of sacrificing women to their volcano god. They reach the City of Skulls, only to be captured themselves by the Nagas, controlled by the brutish Sabbala (veteran Hammer villain Milton Reid, THE TERROR OF THE TONGS), his creepy pint-sized sidekick Bolum (busy Kenya-born stuntman Kiran Shah in his film debut) and a hooded muscular executioner (yet another Hammer villain, David Prowse, HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN, FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL). McBride finds Tyler, but as prisoners, they must battle and escape the clutches of their captors before the two girls are tossed into the volcano.
Based on the 1924 novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT is part of a series of juvenile-designed, prehistoric-tinged adventures produced by John Dark and directed by Kevin Connor, with the prequel LAND being the first, and the series also including AT THE EARTH’S CORE (1976) and WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS (1978), the only one not financed and released by American International Pictures (Columbia released it theatrically in the States, and it’s yet to see any kind of home video issue here). Arguably the most polished of the four films, THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT is another fun sci-fi fantasy flick that makes for great Saturday afternoon entertainment, and it represents the very end of the classic era of giant monster movies before STAR WARS (released the same year) reinvented all things fantastic as far as cinema goes. Sure the special effects are uneven and the dinosaurs appear less frequently than they did in the first film, but there is a definite charm to it, and when the mammoth monsters do appear, they never fail to thrill. Like with LAND, the flying pterodactyls glide without flapping their wings (though the main one shown here is improved as far as design, visible strings and all) and at least one awkward beasty on all fours looks to be recycled from AT THE EARTH’S CORE. The film was mostly shot on the location in the Canary Islands and the immense open land makes for exquisite scenery (with the addition of some impressive cavernous and kingdom sets lensed at Pinewood Studios). The City of Skulls (revealed as an admittedly unconvincing cell drawing) and its Nagas soldiers (with their samurai armor and headgear) resemble something out of a Frazetta painting, giving an added dimension to the film's dazzling fantasy look, and that’s not all surprising since Frazetta himself also supplied paintings seen as murals on the wall within the sets. Composer John Scott (who has done a lot before and after PEOPLE, including BERSERK, TROG and WAKE IN FRIGHT) did the score, and it's one of his best and certainly most memorable (and thankfully issued on CD a few years ago). The excellent cinematography (especially in the scenic landscapes) is by Alan Hume (who also shot LAND, AT THE EARTH’S CORE and WARLORDS), and he really gives the film the visually arresting epic look that you’d expect, despite of the low budget.
While the baddies of the film rely on appearance (when the mask of one of the Nagas soldiers is removed, his mutated appearance resembles Jason in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2) more than anything else, the hero characters are well developed, and the cast is excellent. Wayne also starred in SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER the same year, and here he's suitable as the clean-shaven stalwart, and Douglas is both beautiful and confident as the newspaper photographer. The romantic tension between them (he is a bit of a chauvinist and she is independent woman of the 1920s, just one who fears spiders) builds up nicely and is never too cutesy or annoying. The elder scientist type could have been a bumbling buffoon (or an unnecessary channeling of Lionel Jeffries in FIRST MEN ON THE MOON or Peter Cushing in AT THE EARTH’S CORE), especially in the hands of Walters (known for his comical tendencies), but he does a fine, restrained job, and the character even does alright for himself during the repeated scuffles, so we’re always happy he’s along for the ride. As Ajor, Gillespie is probably the most stunningly shapely and brunette cavegirl since Raquel Welch (in ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.) and it’s almost impossible to keep your eyes off of her when she’s on screen—eye shadow, lipstick and all (not to mention her effortless mastering of broken English). Rimmer (a recognizable Canadian-born background fixture in such franchises as the James Bond and Superman series) is given a well-deserved, more prominent role here, doing humorous bits of business as he’s left behind on his own to repair the plane (Rimmer even referred to this film in his recent autobiography: From Thunderbirds to Pterodactyls). The cast also includes dependable veteran British actor Tony Britton (THE DAY OF THE JACKAL) as a Navy ship captain, Pittsburgh-born Richard Parmentier (who was also on the “dark side” along with Prowse in STAR WARS) and Irish fantasy film actor John Hallam (FLASH GORDON) as the soldering head of the masked Nagas.
After its successful theatrical run, THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT was shown on NBC in prime time in 1979 and quickly became a staple of late night and weekend afternoon syndicated television. Some TV versions carried a prologue (featuring scenes from THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT) as well as brief additional dialogue which were never found in the actual theatrical version (it was once common for network airings of movies to add back scenes that were deleted from the final theatrical product in order to replace scenes that needed to be cut, or to extend the running time). Like MGM’s previous “Midnite Movies” release, this is the correct theatrical version as it was intended to be seen (though it would have been lovely to have the alternate/bonus TV footage as an extra if it could even be found). Like THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT and AT THE EARTH’S CORE, the film should have been credited as an Amicus production, but by the time the film went into release, Amicus founders Milton Subotsky and Max J. Rosenberg (whose name is on the credits) had already parted ways, so AIP inherited the film and took total credit.
After their excellent THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT and AT THE EARTH’S CORE releases, Kino Lorber finishes what they started by picking up THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT from MGM for Blu-ray, and like the previous two discs, the results are splendid. The film has been presented in 1080p HD in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and the picture boasts crisp detail from beginning to end. Dirt and debris is minor, the stable colors are bright with plenty of depth, and skin tones also have impressive texture. Some of the less convincing (but we repeat: charming) special effects don't become overly transparent in the high resolution, at least not any more than they were in standard definition. The grain structure is perfectly solid, maintaining an attractive filmic appearance. So in summary, this is a terrific, definitive transfer of a long-time favorite. The DTS-HD 2.0 English audio track offers distinct dialogue and John Scott’s pulsating score is also given ample strength. There are no subtitles or any other language options on the disc.
Extras for this release have been produced by Walt Olsen of Scorpion Releasing, and fans of the film will be delighted with the on-camera interviews with the two female leads, as so much ground is covered and some splendid anecdotes are shared. “Sarah Douglas Remembers THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT” (20:30) has the actress recalling that it was one of the best experiences she ever had and that she has great affection for the film, remaining very proud of it (it was right after this that she began shooting her scenes for SUPERMAN, a film on a much different level budget-wise). She doesn’t remember exactly how she got the job, but she liked producer Dark and director Connor very much. Douglas jokingly describes the dinosaurs in the film as “pretty much cardboard” but loved that it was kid-friendly, talks about shooting in the Canary Islands (and how much fun she had with her co-stars, which she has only good things to say about), twisting her ankle while on location, and she sums up by calling PEOPLE “a great little movie from that period”. “Dana Gillespie on THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT” (24:11) has the actress/singer joking that her friends called it “The Film That People Forgot”. She mentions her skimpy outfit in the film (and that it was difficult to prevent her bosom from being exposed on camera) and that because of the cleavage, it was feared the film wouldn’t pass with a child-friendly rating. Gillespie knew she was being hired because of her assets but was alright with it, especially since she had fun making it. She goes on to describe the filming of the volcano sacrifice scene with Prowse and Reid (as well as several other specific scenes), Patrick Wayne pronouncing her character’s name wrong, that Sarah Douglas was her mate on the set, and like Douglas, Gillespie has only nice things to say about director Connor, producer Dark and he co-stars (she recalls that they became like a family). Gillespie has maintained her singing career and still performs frequently in the UK and other parts of Europe.
As with Kino’s release of THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, there’s an audio commentary with director Connor, moderated by friend and fellow veteran filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith. Like with the commentary for LAND, the conversation is more leisurely (at times, the participants are just dictating what they are seeing on screen), but Connor does share a bit of information about the film including that it was financed due to the considerable success of LAND and AT THE EARTH’S CORE, and that they were able to get most of the same crew back, as well as McClure. Connor surmises that Wayne was likely cast on AIP’s suggestion, states that they had an eight-week shooting schedule, and he remembers a lot about the special effects as well as what was shot on location and what as shot at Pinewood (Connor also says that they had to tone things down from the original story when bringing this to film, as it would have been far too expensive). Also included is a full-frame trailer for the film, as well as an anamorphic trailer for THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT. (George R. Reis)
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