Last week you may recall that I mentioned Disney’s 1954 film “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” began a subgenre of Victorian SF. Well, if that film was the first of a generation, then today’s movie is more or less the ragged end of that generation, gasping for breath in the moments before extinction.
PLAY BY PLAY
At some point in the late 19th century, Peter Cushing (Best known to us geeky folk as “Grand Moff Tarkin”) and Doug McClure (Best known to us geeky folk as the guy who isn’t Troy McClure), are testing out the “Iron Mole” - a tunnel-digging machine. They intend to cut a tube through a Welsh hillside, but, of course this all goes horribly wrong, and the Mole careens out of control, tunneling its way into the creamy, nougaty center of the world.
Here they’re chased by a variety of rubber suit monsters that look like extras from a Godzilla flick, and then are captured by some short piggy-looking humanoids with protruding, naked skulls and frankly disquieting combovers. Pete and Doug are chained up with a bunch of other human prisoners who are being marched off to piggy prison, or whatever. This isn’t so bad, however, as Caroline Munro is one of ‘em.
(I apologize for the awful music in that, just watch it with the sound turned down).
The movie underplays her astounding hotness for some reason. Anyway, Caroline and Doug seem to be hitting it off as well as any two folks on a chaingang can, but then there’s some unpleasantness when an squirrelly little guy I’m going to call “Curly McFro” tries to cop a feel or whatever, and Doug pounds hell out of him. There follows an awkward pause that eats up like a minute of screen time, after which Caroline won’t have anything more to do with Doug. Doug is powerless to understand her odd behavior, so he broods and watches her in old Adam Ant videos (Yes, that’s her with the big glasses!) to dull the pain
You really can’t blame the guy. She’s smoking’ hot.
They get to Piggy City, where several of the chaingang folks are sacrificed by the piggies to some big fake looking pterodactyls (Again, rubber suit monsters). A man with an outrageously fake beard explains to Doug that under the Pelucidarian customs - oh, this land is called ‘pelucidar’, did I forget to mention that - when a man fights another man for a woman, then the woman is his, and he needs to say either “I’m a’gonna’ make you the main fillie of my herd” or “I don’t wantcha’.” By staring awkwardly for a full minute and doing neither, this is a grievous insult to the honor of Caroline Munroe.
Doug escapes and Pete is put to work in the Cuneiform libraries, where he discovers that the pterodactyls are the masters here, with the piggy folk being their slaves. They’re using the piggies to round up humans for chow, thus saving them from having to forage themselves. Not a bad little scam, really.
Doug gets in a fight with a total stranger named “Ra,” but they bond over a long and entirely boring fight sequence, and decide they’re chums now. Ra takes him to see some humans being sacrificed to the Pterodactyls, and Doug swears to defeat the lizard-bird things and free Pelucidar. They decide to break back in to piggy city, and they free Pete and several others. Pete shows Doug a big egg chamber where the Pterodactyls are born, and this functions as the ‘small unshielded exhaust port’ for this movie, which will allow an easy and clear-cut defeat of the enemy in convenient terms and without moral ambiguity. Sigh.
As they flee Piggy City, they find Caroline Munro once again being chased by Curly McFro, and Doug fights him off while being attacked by a fire breathing rubber suit monster. Pete puts a bow and arrow together in less than a second out of less than nothing, and slays the beast. Caroline isn’t too thrilled with Doug what with the slight and all, but Doug perseveres because, hell, she looks like this
Even if this movie isn’t really showcasing her much.
The movie bogs down for a bit as we’re told that Jubal the Ugly (And rather tall) is coming to kill him so he can take Caroline for his own, and…uhm…give her to Curly McFro or something. It’s all a bit vague. Perhaps Jubal is gay?