Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Land Unknown (1957)

Poster for The Land Unknown (1957)The Land Unknown (1957) by #VirgilWVogel

w/#JockMahoney #ShirleyPatterson

Three men and a woman crash-land in a deep crater in Antarctica, where they find a prehistoric world.

“Lost and Terrorized in Prehistoric Time.”

#SciFi #Horror #Fantasy
#Dinosaurs
#NotQuiteClassicCinema
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

I always loved movies about lost worlds and dinosaurs, but The Land Unknown (1957) is not a movie I remember seeing when I was  young. King Kong (1933) I remember, and I watched it whenever it was on TV. Later on I added King Kong (1976) to the regular watch list as well. It’s possible I saw The Land Unknown at some point, but if I did it didn’t make a lasting impression.

Honestly, The Land Unknown is not quite in the same class as King Kong, but it’s still a nostalgic and fun watch for those who grew up with these kind of movies. 

What blew my mind when watching it – or rather, when reading about it afterwards – is discovering that the lead actress, Shirley Patterson, was born in my home town of Winnipeg. This makes her a #MadeInManitobaMonday actress, I suppose.

Patterson, who’s credited as Shawn Smith in this movie (and most of everything else she made after 1950) started out in North of the Rockies (1942). She appeared in over 50 movies and TV shows, but never really became a big star. Aside from The Land Unknown, she also had a big part in It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958). These appear to be her final two movies, so perhaps she was on her way to becoming a leading lady of Science Fiction. Alas, she was in a serious skiing accident in 1958 which left her unable to work for a couple of years, and she wound up retiring. Who knows what might have happened if it hadn’t been for that unfortunate incident at California’s Big Bear mountain resort?

The Land Unknown (1957) is #NotQuiteClassicCinema that would have been just as at home on a Sunday afternoon as on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn. But if you’re an old school dinosaur fan,  it’s likely to put a smile on your face no matter when you choose to watch it.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Dr. Cyclops (1940)

Poster for Dr. Cyclops (1940)#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn……………… Dr. Cyclops (1940) Dr. Cyclops (1940) Dr. Cyclops Dr. Dr. Cyclops (1940) by by #ErnestBSchoedsack w/#AlbertDekker

“Diabolical dictator…devastating discoverer of the most frightening invention in the history of civilized man! He reduces men and women, as normal as you, to the size of dolls…and holds their 14 inches of quivering humanity within his dreaded grasp. Never before such a picture. Never before such thrills….”

#Horror #SciFi
#NotQuiteClassicCinema

Dr. Cyclops (1940) is another movie that I probably saw on Not Quite Classic Theatre when I was young. It was a show, or rather a time slot during which the TV station would air old B-movies – particularly black and white monster movies from the 1940s and ’50s. I remember watching Dr. Cyclops on TV back around that time. I can’t say for sure it was on Not Quite Classic Theatre – but I think it’s very likely. 

I don’t remember it as being one of my favourites from the era (either my era of watching Not Quite Classic Theatre or the 1940s). As a result, I never bothered to watch it again over the years. Last friday, I decided that it was time to remind myself what this film was all about.

According the IMDb, Dr. Cyclops was the first science fiction film to be shot in three-color Technicolor. Cool. It also featured some pretty state of the art special effects. The director, Ernest B. Schoedsack, had worked as a director (uncredited) on King Kong (1933) – which was one of my favourites as a child – as well as Son of Kong (1933). So he was no stranger to movies about large monsters menacing tiny people. Some of the techniques that had been used to make King Kong so impressive can be seen in Dr. Cyclops.

When watching Dr. Cyclops, one can’t help but think of The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) – another #NotQuiteClassicCinema classic from my childhood. The Incredible Shrinking Man is probably the superior film, but credit must be given to Dr. Cyclops for pre-dating it by 17 years. 

Albert Dekker stars as Dr Cyclops, or rather, Dr. Thorkel. He is a somewhat mad scientist was has figured out a way to shrink animals – and people – down to about 14 inches. Dekker was in over hundred movies and TV shows during his lifetime, but he is most remembered for Dr. Cyclops.

In all honestly, Dr. Cyclops is nowhere near as good as King Kong, or The Incredible Shrinking Man or even Tod Browning’s The Devil Doll (1936), which deals with similar ideas. Still, it’s a pretty fun example of  #NotQuiteClassicCinema  that has a few brilliant moments in it. The scene in which Dr Thorkel holds a 14 inch  Dr. Bulfinch in his hand is one of my favourites. 

Those who enjoy movies about large animals or people menacing small animals or people should consider adding Dr. Cyclops (1940) to their next #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.