“Get it before the flies do!”
When this film arrived on the desk I begged our editor, hoping I could do the review. I presumed that this was the 1959 movie with the same title, starring James Mason. I should have looked at that cover closer.
So, on Sunday afternoon, I sat down hoping for nostalgia born of that Doug McClure era. I was geared up for my own private matinee of tat fantasy and cheesy dinosaurs, comparable with ‘The Land That Time Forgot’ and ‘At the Earth's Core’. But no, this was the 1976 version. I must have been blind and as mad as bag of cats. This film was probably the worst adaptation of a Jules Verne novel that I’ve ever seen (and that’s saying something). I was sadly disappointed.
The casting is abysmal and the performances weak. Poor Kenneth Moore (as Prof. Otto Lindenbrock) has to drag the others along, feeding them dialogue like some brood of screen hungry cuckoos. How on gods green earth did Pep Munné (playing Axel, the military love interest) ever work again?
Not that this version of ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ is particularly untrue to the story, well, not until the time travelling bearded clones turn up (I jest you not). Basically, one Professor Lindenbrock and his niece Glauben (Ivonne Sentis) discover a map in the back of an old geological journal, and set off with her fiancé to Iceland. Picking up an ovine obsessed muscle-man along the way (Frank Braña, used here in his usual role as a caricature) they discover an entrance into the earth in an inactive polystyrene volcano. Following the old journal, inevitably, they find themselves trapped under the earth with prehistoric gribblies, forests of giant mushrooms, and a vast underground sea (of which we never see the ceiling). For me, the highlight of suspense was surely the moment when they were chased by recently woken tortoises…
While many films of this era can look somewhat worn nowadays, this looks threadbare. Overall, the movie was a poor substitute for genuine nostalgia. Even if I’d been expecting what it was offering it has aged so poorly it has begun to turn up at the edges.
Movie: 2 out of 5
Extras: 1.5 out of 5