At the Earth’s Core (1976)

Director: Kevin Connor
Writers: Edgar Rice Burroughs (novel), Milton Subotsky (screenplay)
Stars: Doug McClure, Peter Cushing, Caroline Munro

At the end of the Amicus Productions/Hammer Horror films rivalry a few little guilty pleasurable gems were made. At the Earth’s Core is one such film that I have grown up watching and can’t help but love despite how bad it really it is. Add in the fact the wonderfully brilliant Peter Cushing stars alongside everyone’s favourite z-movie hero McClure and what could possibly go wrong? Add in the stunning Munro and have you have a sure-fire banker of epic proportions.

Dr. Abner Perry is a very English professor who has invented a burrowing machine to be able to drill into the earth’s core. With his able young American assistant David Innes (McClure) they set forth and merrily tally-ho deep within the surface of the earth. They eventually come across a subterranean world deep below our own, complete with telepathic prehistoric bird type things, cavemen and women, tribes and little jovial creatures with pointy spears. All terribly ridiculous and fun!

Now much like Cushing’s Island of Terror, this really does look like a very bad late sixties Dr. Who episode. The sets are terrible, the creatures are even worse, the script and dialogue…it’s safe to say it’s pretty bad all round. McClure is his usual self (you should know what I mean) and Cushing hams it up more than a desert castaway in a Subway store while Munro just, well, just runs around looking good. But this all adds to the nostalgia and feel-good factor of this film. They all knew this was going to be no masterpiece and ran with it.

Cushing once said he was more interested in what he thought people wanted to watch him doing than what he actually preferred to do. And that sums this film up perfectly. Back then we wanted silly creature-features with adventure, unknown worlds, scantily clad buxom slave girls. It all added to the fun. Kids these days just don’t know what they are missing with the lazy CGI laden rubbish churned out today. We would have watched Munro’s cleavage…I mean rubber-suited men on strings all day long and repeatedly. It was a great time to be a kid with so many of these shlocky, campy films being made.

Perhaps the single actual good thing about this film is the score. It really is very well done and credit must go to Michael Vickers for what he achieved here. Likewise Alan Hume’s photography is also quite good given the terrible sets he was working with. But most of the credit has to go to the cast, who at times look tired, dazed, confused (probably wondering what they signed on to) and geriatric. Again, Cushing is immense here as the old professor who is fascinated by the culture and what they have found. He played the part a hundred times in different films and it never gets old. The man was simply brilliant.

This is a very silly, terribly made film and if you have not seen it then watch it knowing what it is. Go in expecting good bad and that is what you will get. Remember the era it was made and the budget and just go along for the ride and feel no guilt when you laugh at the unintentionally funny scenes (or maybe they were intentional). A true z-movie classic from an age long gone. They don’t make them like this anymore.


The Sage’s Rating:

Posted in Adventure, Fantasy and tagged , , , , .

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