Antarctica is 5,400,000 square miles with a population of 1,106.
An expedition is sent to Antarctica to map the area and investigate an oasis reported by an earlier expedition. They send Commander Alan Roberts (Jock Mahoney), a reporter Margaret Hathaway (Shirley Patterson), Lt Jack Carmen (William Reynolds) and Steve Miller (Phil Harvey). The beginning of the action starts with a helicopter crash. (Another reoccurring theme.) On board are our 4 explorers. When they get hit by a Pterodactyl they make an emergency landing. The atmosphere immediately changes once they land. The music score stops for a few moments and all you hear is silence. A fog envelops the screen masking what is around the helicopter and adding an otherworldly feel to the movie. You are now in a different land. The “Land Unknown”.
Here the four trapped explorers are challenged with trying to fix the helicopter, dodging dinosaurs and man eating plants. Unless they can find the parts needed to fix the helicopter and escape the prehistoric crater in time they will be stuck there forever. Little do they know they are not alone. There is another potential predator that has adapted to this hostile environment and he is watching.
As I work my way through every dinosaur and monster movie I can find I can’t help but notice certain constants that most monster movies have in common. After all there are only so many ways to put together a story involving monsters. One of my theories is how monsters are created. I found that I could classify monster making into types. In "The Land Unknown" the monsters are type 5, trapped in either a subterranean world, on a deserted island or in a hidden valley and stumbled onto by people. This is where our story begins.
"The Land Unknown" was released in 1957 and was directed by Virgil W. Vogel. The dinosaurs are a mix of live action lizards shown on back screen, puppets, and guys in big rubber suits. The T-Rex which I believe is a combination of rubber suit and animatronics is the least ferocious dinosaur I’ve seen in a long time. But lame or not a dinosaur it is and that is the whole point. The Plesiosaur on the other hand is a puppet. OK with me. Even though the dinosaurs are not fancy, or even good, the acting, script and general plot are. With that in mind, if you squint while watching, the dinosaurs aren’t that bad after all. As a low budget “B” movie this one is better than most.
The Tyrannosaurus head from this movie was reportedly used to create Spot under the stairs of the Munster House on The Munsters (1964). The T-rex roar was later used in the 1971 film "Duel". The sound effect is heard when the truck crashes over the cliff at the end.
The first woman to reach Antarctica, although briefly, was Caroline Mikkelsen, the wife of a Norwegian whaling captain, in 1935.