July 15, 2015

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Have you ever wanted to watch a movie that didn't come close to completing principal photography but was made into a movie anyway? I'm sure there are plenty of 50's b-movies that fall under this heading (and loads of Corman or Wood movies) but Journey to the Center of the Earth is a special case. Some of the “stars” listed on the VHS box aren't on screen more than 30 seconds and don't speak a word, the first 10 mins of the movie were shot for an entirely different script with a completely different director, the film takes place in the Lost City of Atlantis under Hawaii, and is the sequel to a movie that took place in that same Lost City when it was under northern Africa. If you're looking for some cinematic pain, some deep hurting as it were, look no further than this sequel to Alien from L.A....

The plot unfolds something like this: [Ok, I've not had synopsis this challenging since FEAR NO EVIL... here goes...] Crystina is being fired from her last nanny job. She doesn't want to quit being a nanny, she loves it! But even she must admit she's bad at it. When her employer asks what she'll do next, Crystina muses she'll probably teach karate. But lucky for her, she won't have to take any pesky karate lessons, fellow Brit and fading rock star Billy Foul needs a nanny to meet him in Hawaii ASAP! Crystina's got one last chance to be the nanny she hopes she can be. However, none of that will come back into play after the 20 min mark of this film... Meanwhile, a trio of siblings are venturing to their favorite cave on the Hawaiian islands. For reasons too taxing to mention here, Crystina joins up with this trio and together they chase the youngest sibling, and a dog, through caverns that eventually lead to the Lost City of Atlantis. And that's when the real confusion starts...

The top billed stars: Emo Philips (on screen for the count of ten, says nothing), and Kathy Ireland (still images of her are used many times throughout the film, but she is otherwise not in this movie).

The Big Cringe: This whole movie is one long cringe, but if you watched it with enough people it might actually be entertaining (unlike FEAR NO EVIL), but it takes a toll for sure.

Things to watch for: This is a movie to poke fun at all the way through, there are scenes that are clearly b-roll from the Alien from L.A., every asinine situation lead to even more asinine situation, characters are written out of the story with voiceover instructing them to “get help”, or sometimes departing characters shout that they'll “come back with help”, but they never do come back...

But is it good?: It's bad, it's really really really bad. But it's so bad, it folds over on it's self and gets good.

What we learned: Sometimes deep hurting is exactly what you need in a movie.

The uncredited director: Albert Pyun is notorious for having movie after movie taken from him in the editing process (or worse) leaving each of his finished films no more his own work than an Alan Smithee work. And it's a shame, not unlike Jackie Kong he appeared on our radar as not only a force of bad movie making to be reckoned with, but also as a director of color. There are too few non-white male film directors even now but to find one who is responsible for some epic fun from they heyday of video is usually exciting followed by a sad story of some kind. Albert Pyun still makes movies today, and is working on finishing a few more but his health is declining. Our hope is that he gets to make a few movies his way before he has to stop all together.

Further reading: Albert Pyun interview.

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