Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber - AT THE EARTH'S CORE on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Kino Lorber - AT THE EARTH'S CORE on Blu-ray

AT THE EARTH'S CORE (1976; Kevin Connor)
As a film, AT THE EARTH'S CORE is basically JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH by way of PLANET OF THE APES and the LAND OF THE LOST TV series. The sets and costumes are often rather cheap looking, but they hold together just enough (for the most part) to make this film fun to watch. I can see it having been a really solid night at the drive-in in 1976 if you were in the right frame of mind. It's kind of an odd movie. I mean look at that cover. You've got dinosaurs, savages, a giant drill vehicle and a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek tone so what's not to love? I personally had never seen this one before, but the cast caught my attention. 
I came to the film's star (actor Doug McClure) in an odd roundabout way. I saw him for the first time not in reruns of his hit Tv series The Virginian, but rather through the ever so cheesy late 80s fantasy sitcom Out of this World. It was a silly show about a half alien girl who could stop time. McClure played a former television actor turned mayor of the fictional town in the show. His character is kind of a joke so I always saw him that way. I had no idea the breadth of work he had done prior. Throughout his career he worked with such legends as Robert Mitchum, Burt Lancaster and James Stewart. He obviously had a great run in television and then went on to work with Amicus in the UK. He made several movies for them including this one, THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975) and also THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977). All three films were made with director Kevin Connor (who also helmed MOTEL HELL by the way) and McClure went on to make a fourth with him too (WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS in 1978 for Columbia). He was also one of the stars of the Corman-produced HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (which many genre fans may remember him from). I only lead off with McClure because I really feel like he's something of a forgotten actor. Unlike his co-stars Peter Cushing and to a lesser extent Caroline Munro (who is remembered fondly more and more these days), McClure is undeservedly obscure. He's a bit of a hammy actor I suppose, especially in a movie like this, but he's no less entertaining to watch than Charlton Heston in a similar context. Anyway, as I said, McClure rounds out an interesting cast that includes the great Peter Cushing. Cushing has an interesting talent in that he can shift his voice into the more upper register for certain characters. It sounds much higher here than in many of his other films but it fits the scientist type he's playing quite nicely (It sounds almost like the voice you'd expect from an animated character actually). Lastly, but most positively not least is the previously mentioned Caroline Munro. She is one of the great and yet seemingly underrated beauties of the cinema of the 1970s. Her resume during that time is pretty neat and includes the likes of Hammer, Amicus and even a Bond film (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME). She is the very definition of a cult actress. I think I first saw her in THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, STARCRASH or maybe MANIAC. She is stunning to behold and her eyes stand out as some of the most mesmerizing I've seen on any actress ever. To see her in a movie is to immediately want to seek out as many of her other movies as you can.

Special Features:
This disc has a nice round of supplements starting with an audio commentary from director Kevin Connor. This is a decent track with a slightly annoying moderator. Director Connor is sharp enough to recall a good deal of details with regards to the film's production, special effects, actors and other anecdotes.
-a new on-camera interview with Caroline  Munro (29 mins). Munro is vibrant and delightful in this interview as she recounts her history with and memories of the film as well as her recollections of Doug McClure, Peter Cushing and others.
-a new on-camera interview with director Kevin Connor (22 mins). This is a neat interview wherein Connor works his way through his breaking into the business as an editor on through some recollections from many of the movies in his filmography.
-a "Making of" featurette (6 mins). This is a vintage promotional piece featuring interviews with the film's production designer and the producer as well as lots of nice footage of the special effects shop and the creatures from the film being made. There's also some some behind the scenes of Kevin Connor directed one of the special effects heavy scenes towards the climax of the movie.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice words about Doug McClure. I got a chance to work with both he and his daughter and I can attest that he was a nice guy and hard-working professional.