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PRODUCER WILLIAM ALLAND PRESENTS 'THE LAND UNKNOWN'

Year of Capture and Release: 1957
Thinking it would be on par with the aesthetic value of BLACK LAGOON and REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, producer William Alland's topnotch director, Jack Arnold, who also shot TARANTULA, wanted nothing to do with this cheapie that, in the rudimentary stages, was supposed to be colorized with semi-big stars attached...

 Paperback-Approach Poster Art
But with a nice matte as a primal mileau, it's enough to convince both an audience and a small group of Arctic dwelling researchers, with their military-trained employees including a magazine-handsome helicopter pilot in future FBI television-show regular William Reynolds...

Along for the ride is his everyman mechanic; a pretty blond ingenue; and, conveniently enough, a leading man who's more an expert on prehistoric history than the snowy region surrounding this strange and UNKNOWN tropical enigma, partially based on a true story about a mass of warm water discovered strangely in the middle of the frozen Antarctic — and the very same location for that year's b-creature THE DEADLY MANTIS... Indeed, producer Alland was a busy man in 1957...

LAND Score: ***1/2
The warm water's explained quickly, derived from a volcano, and the Dino-land follows, a hell-hot purgatory the characters are trapped in. The helicopter can start but without taking flight – this following a quick, eerie sighting: the swoop of a pterodactyl starts the ball rolling, or rather, the helicopter falling...

Then, within this extremely hot and humid valley, resembling the wide-shot background of any Tarzan film, the foursome's hunted by various dinosaurs: The good ones look wonderfully fake, like a water-creature hybrid of The Loch Ness Monster and the aquatic man-eating dino in KING KONG. And especially the T-Rex, with a mouth that opens wide and awkward, like a large parade float or a Halloween mask giving enough room for the person to breath...

For it is, like GODZILLA, a man-suited beast instead of the larger budgeted stop-motion. And on the other side of the coin are the lame, cheap Dinosaurs that are, ironically, the most realistic — in fact, they are real: Gila Monsters (or Iguanas) superimposed to look giant in the fashion of, say, Bert I. Gordon. But enlarged rats, ants and humans work better since they become an immense version of a normal size we're already familiar with...

What turns out to be the most determined beastie on board
So the coolest scenes involve survival but from the T-Rex's danger, and eventually a bearded Scientist gone wacko from having been abandoned there a decade earlier: Lustfully woebegone with primal determination, he's forcefully willing to exchange an important gear (from his own wreck) that could fix their copter in exchange for the girl to be his Tarzan's Jane...

But not if the leading man, who doesn't stop rambling speeches about evolution long enough to become a worthy action hero, can help it. He's initially trumped by that dashing pilot who starts out cocky with perilous potential only to wind up, like his stressed-out mechanic, serving as wallpaper behind the two leads, including blonde starlet Shirley Patterson, who fits the best as she was no stranger to b-movies: A bonafide creature genre scream queen who, at one point, begs her brainy love interest to "Stop Lecturing!" Too bad for them, and even worse for us, he doesn't shut his trap.
The Dinosaurs in William Alland's b-adventure THE LAND UNKNOWN
The Dinosaurs in William Alland's b-adventure THE LAND UNKNOWN
The Dinosaurs in William Alland's b-adventure THE LAND UNKNOWN

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