At The Earth’s Core (1976)
Directed by Kevin Conner
Screenplay by Milton Subotsky
This is the third Amicus film based on the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs. At The Earth’s Core feels like a combination between The Time Machine and Journey to the Center to the Earth. In the book all the creatures were dinosaurs. For the movie, the studio created their own giant monsters to terrorize our characters.
The first thing you’ll notice is Peter Cushing’s terrible accent (German?). It’s pretty much the same accent he used in The Beast Must Die. In this film he plays Dr. Abner Perry, inventor of an earth moving submarine (The Iron Mole) that can dig its way to the core. With his co-pilot and investor, David (Doug McClure), they set off through the bedrock and find an inner world. This world is ruled by a race of humanoid beings similar to the Morlocks. They serve and worship a group of reptilian bird creatures who communicate their desires through telepathy. The ruling race rounds up the humans. The men are turned to slaves and their women are sacrificed to these reptilian bird men.
David overcomes many obstacles to free the humans and teach them how to fight against the dominant race. He also rescues, Dia (Caroline Munro), from being sacrificed and the two fall in love. The wild creatures in the film are clunky, man-in-a-suit costumes that would make Toho laugh. But they do have a certain understated charm. Doug McClure delivers a melodramatic performance and seems to be aware of it at times which almost makes it comical. Munro seems to be having a grand time herself smiling and even laughing at times in the film when she’s caught unaware of the camera. It’s a moderately fun fantasy flick with amusing creatures, often for all the wrong reasons – ei. zippers, wires and rubbery horns. I really didn’t get the garish pink and purple lighting for the film; it looked like they were lighting the sets for a soft-core porn flick.
For a studio that started out with such serious modern gothic horror and above average acting, this seems like a silly product. However, the movie was quite popular and profitable for the studio. If you watch it, your enjoyment will stem from the unintended comical aspects more than anything else. Have some fun with it.
There were a bunch of Caroline Munro publicity shots for this film. Here’s some of them:
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