Unknown World

Dir: Terry O. Mors
Star: Bruce Kellogg, Marilyn Nash, Jim Bannon, Victor Kilian

Convinced that humanity is likely to be wiped out on the surface of the Earth by a chain-reaction caused by atomic testing, Dr. Jeremiah Morley (Kilian) creates plans for an expedition far below the Earth's core, seeking an underground pocket where some of humanity can ride out the imminent disaster. He obtains financing from Wright Thompson (Kellogg), the son of a media magnate, on condition he gets to be part of the crew. Mostly scientists, with the exception of Thompson and ex-soldier Andy Ostergaard, the crew of seven head down a volcano in their "cyclotram", encountering a series of (surprisingly well-lit!) hazards and wonders on the way. Accidents occur, relationships are forged and the sole woman on the team, "ardent feminist" Dr. Joan Lindsay (Nash) is, presumably, very popular. Admittedly, if this is humanity's last, best hope, we're in deep trouble, because they tend to do silly things like going outside without their gas-masks, or accidentally leaving a vent open, which costs the craft its entire supply of potable water. Their idea of exploration seems largely to involve blowing things up and/or hitting them with sledgehammers. Do you even science, bro? It's no wonder that the mortality rate here is so high, staying on the surface and trying to survive nuclear Armageddon is probably a better option.

This struggles, even at its brief running-time of 74 minutes, mostly because it takes the best part of an hour before they reach anywhere more notable than another in a long, ongoing and extremely uninteresting series of underground passageways. The initial set-up, featuring a quite nicely done faux newsreel, depicting the rise and funding-related fall of Morley's catchily-named "Society to Save Civilization", is not bad. But as soon as the expedition starts, the cyclotram proceeding at the speed of an aged slug, the film does likewise. There is clearly an attempt at some kind of Cold War allegory here, yet it's so badly botched, you'll find yourself rooting for the nuclear weapons, and that's before the sappy romance between Lindsay and Thompson kicks in. 1951 was clearly a kinder, gentler era for ardent feminists. Clearly inspired by Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth, which at least had the excuse of being published in 1871, this appears also to have in turn been ripped-off by The Core, though that looks like a rigorously-researched PhD dissertation in comparison. For between the idiocy of the characters, the sloppy execution and the highly-dubious nature of its central presence, this is likely to be a prime candidate for the Shitty Science Movies Hall of Fame.

[November 2015]

See also... [Index] [Next] [Previous] [TC Home Page]