A scene from THE LAND UNKNOWN, directed by Virgil W. Vogel for Universal Pictures.

The Land Unknown (1957, Virgil W. Vogel)

The Land Unknown has it all—a guy in a Tyrannosaurus Rex suit (the dinosaur’s roar is suspiciously similar to Godzilla’s), lizards standing in for dinosaurs, awful rear screen projection of those lizards to make them seem large, CinemaScope, misogyny, torture, a homicidal rapist being portrayed as a sympathetic character and a cute little tarsier. The poor tarsier gets eaten by a tentacle plant, which also attacks the girl. It’s tragic when the tarsier is eaten (Land Unknown actually has some really good ideas, just no way of executing them). It’s sad when the girl survives.

Shirley Patterson plays that girl and thanks to her incredibly bad performance, some of the other weak performances are tolerable. Protagonist Jock Mahoney, for example, isn’t awful. Neither is his sidekick, played by William Reynolds (though Mahoney is far better). The film’s opening suggests the two men will be competing for Patterson’s affect (it also implies she’s going to sleep with 800 sailors… it’s a special film when it comes to how it portrays women), but it never happens. There’s just her lame romance with Mahoney.

It’s hard to find an adjective to accurately describe the awfulness of Patterson’s performance. But… even if she weren’t in the film, there’s still Henry Brandon and Phil Harvey. Both of them are atrocious too.

Vogel’s incapable of composing for CinemaScope.

Besides the surprising potential in the script, both events and concepts, the miniature settings look great. Too bad the models look bad.

It’s a laughably terrible picture.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Virgil W. Vogel; screenplay by László Görög, based on an adaptation by William N. Robson and a story by Charles Palmer; director of photography, Ellis W. Carter; edited by Fred MacDowell; produced by William Alland; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Jock Mahoney (Cmndr. Harold ‘Hal’ Roberts), Shirley Patterson (Margaret ‘Maggie’ Hathaway), William Reynolds (Lt. Jack Carmen), Henry Brandon (Dr. Carl Hunter), Douglas Kennedy (Capt. Burnham) and Phil Harvey (Steve Miller).

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