The Land Unknown (1957)

Rating: **
Review Date: 6/19/15
Cast: Jock Mahoney, Shawn Smith, William Reynolds, Phil Harvey

Inspired by the 1947 Byrd expedition to Antarctica, a scientific survey team crashes their helicopter in a tropical crater after colliding with a pterodactyl. Trapped in the crater 2500 feet below sea level and cut off from their home base, three men and a woman have to figure out how to survive and escape this prehistoric oasis. Vicious dinosaurs, man-eating plants, and a mysterious savage threaten the team, but the human spirit finally prevails.

As you might expect, the dinosaur effects and matte paintings are pretty embarrassing, but they're not nearly as awful as the hokey dialog. The pterodactyl and mosasaur models are actually pretty neat, while the supposed stegosaurus is just an iguana and the tyrannosaurus is a horribly tacky looking man in a suit. The acting is stiff and unconvincing, and made worse by the awkward dialog. Shawn Smith provides the requisite eye candy, and her clothing becomes more scant as the story wears on. Unfortunately, her delivery falls rather flat and it's difficult to get any sort of reading on her character. Meanwhile, Jock Mahoney is too busy spouting scientific and philosophical crap to notice's Smith's desperate attempts to get into his pants. The most interesting aspect of the film is the actual documentary footage of Antarctica, which lends a sense of credibility to the otherwise fantastical story. It's also interesting to note the scientific attitudes towards evolution at the time. If you were to talk about evolution in such a straight forward and matter of fact way in today's climate, Fox News would condemn you for heresy and the church would fire bomb your home for blasphemy. It makes you realize how far we've come and how far we've fallen.