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This movie was definitely overlooked by myself for a number of years. I either saw the trailer or maybe a piece of the film on televison. Whichever, I think I decided the dinosaurs looked so cheesy that the rest of the movie had to be just as cheesy. I just skipped it for a long time. Recently, Turner Classics ran it and I gave it a look. I knew it was based on the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs and soon as I saw the script authors included Michael Moorcock, I sat up. This might not be as bad as I’d imagined.

And it wasn’t.

Make no mistake, not a great film. It still had problems, but a literate script was there. The dinosaurs were puppets and in a scene or two wires were actually visible. The pterodactyls were little more than gliders, stiff winged and looking not at all real. This was before Star Wars which changed everything in special effects. Still, stop motion might have been a better way to go.

I decided to reread the novel to compare changes as it had been a good many years since I had last been through it. A couple of incidents combined to make one scene, the love triangle, not exactly though, with the U-boat commander is gone. In fact, in the film, Von Schoenvorts is not nearly the despotic, German autocrat portrayed in the novel. Those characteristics were shifted to the first officer. The only woman character was named Clayton in the film, likely a nod to Burroughs.

The secret of the island of Caprona, Caspak to the natives, is never fully realized, though they begin to suspect, and the ending is quite different with a volcano erupting as a background for the betrayal that follows.

I did enjoy this one after all(I’m still a kid at heart and can enjoy suspending logic now and again). I know there was a sequel and mow want to see it. That logic tells me it will, as sequels generally do, fall short of the original.

an aside: in researching this post, I learned that Mr. Moorcock is, or was, facing surgery, an amputation. Some reports said a leg, others a foot. Maybe not as serious as some thought as Mr. Moorcock was making jokes about. J seems to have come through fine. I’m glad. I can empathize having been through a foot amputation myself. I hope he continues to do well.

Here’s the trailer:

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