I’ll confess that the part of this film I enjoyed more than anything else was the film the official brilliant scientist, Professor Diaz, shows to his handpicked expedition crew, which shows what life was like in prehistoric times. We get a quick and truly wacky montage of fighting lizards with fins glued on from One Million B.C., a familiar shot of some very bad man-in-a-suit dinosaurs (it had been too long since I’d seen Unknown Island to remember which film I’d seen them in) and some wacky puppet dinosaurs borrowed from a Tin Tan comedy about a caveman waking up in modern times, El bello durmiente.
A romantic couple strays away from the crowd of tourists on a routine tour of the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa caverns: they fall down a hole, but before they can climb back up, some monstrous creature slays the man and leaves the woman in shock.
The wounds are unlike any known animal and Diaz believes that it is something unknown to science, which has developed on its own, completely cut off from the evolutionary development of the rest of the world.
So he picks a crew of explorers and sets off for the previously unplumbed depths of the famous tourist destination and they then descend into the depths, unaware that something is following them…
More than anything else, this one feels like a Fifties Lost World film. We know they’ve seen Unknown Island and it is hard to miss that there is a strong resemblance.
However, there is a stronger emphasis on the soap opera lives of the crew. One of the larger subplots revolves around a woman scientist driven by her love of money and the two men interested in her, mixed with diamonds and a bit of greed.
The creatures themselves aren’t overwhelmingly impressive — mostly guys in furry suits — but they aren’t much worse than one might have seen in some of those Fifties films. There’s even a bit of wire work and a swimming sequence (nitpickers will notice that the characters emerge totally dry from the experience. But that seems to happen in Hollywood a lot. Must be the climate).
There is a nice, gross out dinner scene involving one of the creatures, although it does raise questions of just how cut off these things are from the outside world. And I’ll admit I’m amused by the revelation, when the Professor is detailing all the incredible qualifications of his handpicked crew, that the black guy was picked because…he’s a good cook.
Now there’s something you wouldn’t have seen in Hollywood!
Not even in the Fifties.
And why in the world, if you are climbing across a rope hand over hand, would you take the simple precaution of tying on a safety harness?
Other than the minor problem that you couldn’t have a crew member drop into the river of boiling lava if you did.
For that matter, using gas bombs in an enclosed space doesn’t exactly seem brilliant either. It makes you wonder why they brought them in the first place. It’s not like the plot needed them that badly.
This isn’t a brilliant film. In fact, one gets the impression that they knew the caverns were the major selling point of the film. It tends to be a bit slow as a result, as we spend a lot of time going through the place and viewing the scenery.
And, as is common for a lot of these Mexican SF films, it starts with a long introduction about evolution. I suppose you saw that in the American versions as well, only they might not have talked quite so long.
But if you liked this sort of Fifties film you should find this one passable. It isn’t one of the better examples, but then it isn’t as bad as others.
And, yes, it does leave plenty of room for mockery.
We all know how much better that makes any Fifties Sci Fi film.
Even one made in Mexico in the mid-Sixties.