Monster of the Day #40

I’ve opined in the past that had I to pick one film to represent ’50s sci-fi, it might well be this one.  This is odd, in that in many ways it’s not very representational of the breed.  It features a variety of monsters instead of a single menace, and there’s no atomic radiation involved.  Even so, the feel of the film is so entirely ’50s to me that this might well remain my choice.  Quality-wise, it’s right in the middle, sort of cheesy but well executed none the less.  It remains one of the most satisfying selections I’ve played at T-Fest, and is probably the one that I’d first repeat, if it ever came to that (although clearly it won’t).

  • Ericb

    If the real T Rex was actually designed like that it probably wouldn’t have survived for very long.

  • BeckoningChasm

    Yeah, it sort of looks like some giant on his way to a costume party.

    I know I haven’t seen this film.

  • BC — It’s on that invaluable 10 movie Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection (originally two volumes), featuring 10 ’50s Universal sci-fiers. Surely you own that! Or at least have rented / checked it out. That’s an essential one.

  • As a kid I saw this and was bemused. In its favor, at least it wasn’t a slurpsaur. I was a huge dinosaur nut at the time. I guess I still am.

    I’m probably the only person on my block who can draw a picture of a Thescelosaurus.

  • Gamera

    I don’t know film it is but it looks awesome! T-rex, jungle, helicopter, two guys with guns- if it had a cute brunette it would be perfect.

    Hey at least the T-rex isn’t a monitor lizard with some plastic horns and spiked glued on.

  • fish eye no miko

    o/~ “I love you, you love me…” o/~

  • Ericb

    What’s a slurpsaur?

  • Fish Eye — OK, that made me laugh.

  • Rock Baker

    Gamera -close. They went with a cute blonde. And there are, in fact, the manditory photo-enlarged lizards -minus the plastic horns. But there’s so much more in The Land Unknown: “the terrifying water monster, elasmosaurus”, a Pteranodon, a giant flesh-eating plant, even a crazed mad man for good measure!

    I believe Alex Toth drew the dell comics adaptation.

    The pictured beast could use a thicker tail, but he works pretty good on screen I’ve always felt. This is due to all the little details they included -like making him blink, have a realistic skin texture (something you really can’t see in the photo), and as I noted before, a bad case of the sniffles. In all, the effects work is great suff here.

    I wonder how it would’ve played if they’d went ahead and shot in Technicolor as planned. One certainly imagines the jungle would be more vivid. Well, what can you do about cost, at least we got Cinemascope. I once got to see a scope 16mm print, great stuff!

    As 50s sci-fi films go, The Land Unknown is a pretty good pick. It has dinosaurs, scientists who are men of action, a woman who can hold her own but is still a girl, Universal International’s stock music and production values. As the sort of sci-fi/adventure flick that excited Atom Age kids, this one is probably perfect.

    “Could Man have survived in the Dinosaur Age of Mighty Monsters?!!”

    “We’ll never get out of here! Never! Never!”
    “This isn’t like you! We’re not licked yet!”

  • Gamera

    o/~ “I love you, you love me…” o/~

    ‘Shoot it!!! Shoot it now! Before it lets loose with it’s horrible cry again!!!’

    Thanks Rock, I suppose a cute blonde would work in a pinch. ;)

    Pondering it last night the T rex does look kinda like the upright rex in the famous Charles Knight painting with the more accurate horizontal rex and the trike.

    I suppose there’s no really good way to do dinos outside of stop motion animation and CGI. I just really hate the dinogator/monitorsaurs way though.

  • Rock Baker

    I think stop motion is the only way to really, fully bring a dinosaur to life (although, Gorosaurus was almost as good).

    I used to be a dinosaur expert, but I’ve neglected ‘science’ dinosaurs for a long time now. I got uncomfortable with palentologists who took to current theories as gospel and held tight to their ideas, but only until a new theory came along and then they’d gather behind it even if it completley negated their formerly held ‘truth.’ (I know that’s how historical study is done, but other branches don’t seem to be as fanatical. Dino-scientists seem to adopt the attitude of “this way is right and if you have an opposing thought you’re just wrong and less intelligent than us.” I didn’t think palentology was a private club.)

    That said, I’ve always found the upright dinosaurs to more pleasing to the eye (plus the skeletons I’ve seen seem to be built more for upright posture). Knight was probably the finest dinosaur artist who ever lived, it seems fitting that so many movie monsters would be based on his work.

  • John Nowak

    Not a bad film at all. The time element in the script makes sense (“If the expedition doesn’t return in X days, we’ll sail off and leave you here.”) for once, and the Robinson Crusoe character is both horrifying and … kinda understandable, if not sympathetic.

  • The Rev. D.D.

    I think this was my first dinosaur movie, and I enjoy it to this day. Not quite as much as I did as a kid, but it holds up pretty well.

    That Elasmosaurus spooked me pretty good, as did the man-eating plant. I was too into T-rex to be scared of him, though.

  • sandra

    I was the kind of child who used to close my eyes during the scary bits in films. THE LAND UNKNOWN is the first movie I can recall in which the monsters didn’t scare me. I thought it was because they were really, really lame.