The Land Unknown (1957) starring Jock Mahoney, Shirley Patterson, William Reynolds, Henry Brandon, Douglas Kennedy
The Land Unknown is one of those science fiction movies where good acting is undercut by truly terrible special effects. At its heart, it’s The Lost World – but with several interesting twists, including a very different character stranded there.
Synopsis of The Land Unknown
On a naval expedition to Antarctica, three sailors and reporter Maggie Hathaway crash-land in a crater 1000 m below sea level. There, they encounter steamy tropical forest, dinosaurs, carnivorous plants, and human footprints. They have only 25 days to escape before the Navy leaves them behind.
Review of The Land Unknown
What sets The Land Unknown apart? The acting is fine, and the script is very intelligent – more so than expected from the 1950’s. There’s a survivor from an earlier expedition living in the hidden “land that time forgot”. The survivor has become cold, and cruel, in order to survive. He offers his plane parts to the protagonists – in exchange for their leaving the woman behind with them. It’s a surprising turn for a movie of this era, as is giving him a chance at redemption. He’s not a cardboard cutout character. The rest of the cast isn’t either – except, perhaps, for Maggie.
The “spunky, beautiful, girl reporter” cliche is in full force. Also, she becomes eye candy as the movie goes on, and she begins to lose more of her clothing.
I’d be remiss to mention the absolutely terrible special effects. The threatening dinosaur that chases them is obviously a man in a bad rubber suit, the “carnivorous plant” clearly has strings attached to its’ tentacles, and so on. As I say, it’s a pity, since it really brings the overall value of the movie down.
Cast of Characters in The Land Unknown
- Commander Hal Roberts (Jock Mahoney, Range Rider) – leader of the expedition who becomes love interest for Maggie
- Maggie Hathaway (Shirley Patterson, It! The Terror from Beyond Space) – intrepid girl reporter, eye candy, kidnap victim
- Lt. Jack Carmen (William Reynolds, The Thing that Couldn’t Die) – Roberts’ best friend and right-hand man
- Dr. Carl Hunter (Henry Brandon, March of the Wooden Soldiers) – the survivor from an earlier expedition, who will do anything to survive – and has a heel-face turn at the end