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    At the Earth's Core
    Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 87 mins . PG . PAL


    Oh man. Talk about your poor science fiction films. This thing reminded me of those cheesy as hell Ed Wood style films of the '50s that saw men in rubber suits menacing the bedraggled but determined humans. And that’s probably because that’s practically the whole film anyway.

    Made on a budget of 15 cents, At the Earth’s Core tells the story of some guy and a doctor who build a big metal mole to dig down to the Earth’s core (surprisingly). They set off and the machine is so good the men are soon deviating from their course and headed back up to the surface after digging through thousands of miles of solid rock in a matter of minutes. They climb out of the machine and are amazed to discover a world in which dinosaurs still roam about, but have evolved into newer species. There’s also a monkey-like race that are controlling another race –humans! The monkey-race control the hot molten smegma that exists at the Earth’s core and comes out of volcanoes and by using this they enslave the humans with its power. Then, naturally, the two travelers get captured and after a string of misadventures must lead the humans out of their bondage and head back home to the top of the Earth. (All while getting the girl, of course).

    So many clichés can only be forgiven by the age of the novel written by Edgar Rice Burroughs (the writer of Tarzan). However, this is a poor exploration of that book with wooden performances, farcical overacting and absolutely the worst sets imaginable. These look like remainders from the Star Trek and Lost in Space TV shows of the ‘60s. The ‘dinosaurs’ are the poorest things I can recall witnessing in a film since, well, I can’t actually think of anything worse. The model work is actually not bad until it turns pathetic with models of dinosaurs fighting. There’s no animation to even give us something fun to watch (like Ray Harryhausen’s excellent Sinbad stuff). There’s also a council of crow-dinosaurs that use telepathy to control the monkey-like race and these couldn’t possibly be made any worse. Their speed and dexterity is to marvel at as they circle the humans on obvious cables.

    All up this is a pile of crap which doesn’t even have the kitsch appeal of other low-budget actioners of the day. This truly sucks and it is reflected in the ultra-low asking price.


    The video presentation isn’t too bad with film artefacts common but unobtrusive. Colours are even and the picture is relatively crisp. Flesh tones are natural, though there are an inordinate amount of black guys wearing curly golden wigs. The shadow detail is fairly moderate and blacks are true, but the film has been poorly edited (alongside poorly scripted, shot, acted, made-up, described, catered, gripped, released etc.). There’s plenty of wholly unconvincing blue screen work as well and this is lame and obvious in this pretty clear transfer. (Keep an eye out for the guy who jumps through a curtain of orange-flavoured water that’s supposed to be molten smegma. He doesn’t burn or nothin’! I think he might even take a sip of the cordial as he jumps through it…).

    The audio is a Dolby Digital stereo affair that doesn’t need to struggle as it doesn’t have much to do. The dialogue is atrocious, the talking wooden, the sound effects straight from the stock barrel and Mike Vickers’ score is straight from the ‘50s Golden age of SF. No real quibbles after those, but they’re film faults, not transfer faults.

    There are thankfully no extras on this budget budget release. I don’t think I could have stomached an audio commentary from some guy who thinks this film is high art and performances are brilliant.

    This is a waste of time and money. I was looking forward to some kitchy-cool retro film from the ‘50s and what I got was a pile of unconvincing, worthless rubbish. Nothing about this film has any merit but for some good model work in the earlier moments. To add insult to injury, there’s even a Keystone Cops moment thrown into the closing credits. Director Kevin Connor should be bloody well shot.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=4372
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  •   And I quote...
    "Is this a joke? Director Kevin Connor should be bloody well shot. "
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
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