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Movies From the Black Lagoon: The Land Unknown

Movies From the Black Lagoon
The Land Unknown - 1957, Unrated
By Tom Doty
Weekly Contributing Writer

A team of Naval explorers fly into a strange oasis at the South Pole where they are menaced by dinosaurs in this monster romp from the fabulous fifties.
The film opens with awkward introductions being made between members of a Naval scientific expedition to the South Pole. A scientist, the droll Professor Roberts, and the sultry Miss Hathaway, a reporter, is joining the officers. Turns out these guys must have been at sea too long cause they trip over themselves trying to impress Hathaway.
Next, they are all treated to stock footage of polar expeditions. Hopefully you enjoy stock footage because this film can't go ten minutes without using some. The journey to the pole is mostly stock including one bit where Roberts chats up Hathaway on the deck of a ship while the ocean background is provided via more stock footage. It is hard not to concentrate on the water as Roberts rolls out his patented pick up line, "I know that woman consist mostly of water with a pinch of salt and metals though you have a very unsalt like, non metallic effect on me."
A helicopter ride promises to be pretty dull until Roberts reveals that he can tell the sex of a sea lion from ten thousand feet. Finally our pair get lost in a cloud and wind up landing under the ice in a super heated prehistoric environment when they have a run in with a flying dinosaur. Now they are stuck in the titular place with their pilot, Jack, and his mechanic, Steve. Things immediately improve as we are now treated to jungle sets rather than too much stock footage.
This environment may be deadly but it is also dullsville in the hands of Roberts. What a horrible time to find out that being in a pseudo-prehistoric climate makes him speak in lecture fragments. You keep waiting for Hathaway to start taking notes but she is an ace reporter and is never shown lifting a writing implement.
After a close encounter with a cute Tarsier and a not so charming plant we are treated to a stumbling T-Rex that almost gets disemboweled when it lumbers too close to the helicopter. Then there is the Loch Ness Monster type beastie in the lagoon. None of these creatures are very convincing but we get some real danger when a mysterious man makes off with Hathaway.
We learn that an expedition from ten years before saw the same type of accident occur. Only one man survived, Dr. Hunter. He is a Professor too but much less dull as he has gone native and embraced his inner Darwin. He believes he is the fittest guy in the jungle and reasons that Hathaway should be his. The guys are tempted to let him have her when he offers to trade parts from the wreckage of his ride to them so they can leave.
The guys decide to win back the good reporter just as Hunter decides to let her go. The lake monster tries to make it all moot, which sets the stage for a final showdown between the helicopter crew and the sea beastie. Suffice to say a flare gun is used in a way that is prohibited by safety precautions.
This is a goofy flick with oodles of bad science if you like that kind of thing. There are also technical problems aplenty such as the obvious wires used to manipulate the killer plant but who cares. It is all in good fun. The special effects are pretty lame and the acting is on a par with a summer camp talent show but it is all in good fun.
Luckily the film is part of "The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection 2". It also includes superior fare like "Dr. Cyclops, "in which a mad scientist shrinks his critics and feeds them to his cat, and "The Deadly mantis," where you'll find the military going toe to toe with an enormous bug.
Best Lines: "I always love to meet men, Captain."
"We're not going to dig our way out of here through human flesh."
"The big beasts are stupid."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to:

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