Another version of Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the
Picture Show Co.
Professor Otto Lindenbrock: Kenneth More
Axel: Pep Munne
Glauben: Yvonne Sentis
Olsen: Jack Taylor
Hans: Frank Brana
Produced: Almena Films
Directed: Piquer Simon
Screenplay: John Melson.
Professor Christophe complains about theories of the origin of
the earth being "just theories" since humans have descended
only three miles so far. We get the credits behind early science
fiction film clips and a bizarre Welsh drinking song--really weird.
At a bookseller's shop, an old man sells to
Lindenbrock an ancient book by Arne Saknussemm. The Professor's
niece Glauben is being wooed by Axel, from the Imperial Prussian
Military Academy. Lindenbrock tries to decode a text within the
Old English book. His niece superimposes the two transparent
slides and Lindenbrock sees the answer in a mirror, telling them
where to enter the earth. This has to happen at 11:29 on June
19th, and it is June 20th, but fortunately Saknussemm was using
the Julian calendar vs. the Gregorian, so they still have several
days to arrive.
They hire a guide, Hans, who will be paid in
sheep, which is his fixation. Humor is attempted through Axel's
dignified narrative vs. scenes of his chickenhood. They take
"instruments, tools, weapons," the "essentials,"
and descend into Mt. Sneffels.
Glauben drops the water supply, although humidity
is 95%, and the Saknussemm guidebook blows away. A dinosaur from
the misty waters goes unwitnessed. Glauben is terrorized when
her light goes out. She sinks in quicksand but is helped out
by an unknown hand. No one believes her.
They hear noise which seems human. Axel:
they're animals of some sort; they could even be dangerous!"
Actually it's themselves, because of acoustical echo. A cave-in
follows. They meet a mysterious man named Olsen and his metal
box. Obviously he helped Glauben earlier, and Axel is jealous.
Axel falls and knocks himself out for two days, waking up with
the others enjoying an underground ocean. While Hans makes a
raft they visit giant mushrooms with deadly spores which threaten
to fall. Olsen is detonating explosions, so they run.
On the raft they catch a prehistoric fish.
Axel: "We'll cook it!" They consider giving some to
Olsen, but he's absorbed in study. Glauben swims but sea monsters
appear and fight each other. They stop at the island of giant
fossilized turtles. Axel: "They must have been man-eating,
but they died of hunger." (Dumb-ass.) The turtles flash
vicious teeth and fangs, and screech. The humans realize they're
not fossils and run away.
Back on the raft there's electricity in the
air. A storm bursts and fireballs burn the sail and mast. Ashore
after a shipwreck, Olsen is missing. Axel and Glauben stroll
to "a prehistoric cemetery for animals." There are
dinosaur teeth, but Axel starts chickening again. He explains
that he is considering marriage and in the same breath
(Dumb-ass.) As if on cue, a giant ape looms, also with fangs,
and terrorizes the two inside a tree, which it tears from the
ground. Olsen saves them, shows them an underground city in which
all the people are Olsen, they arbitrarily decide they can't tell
the Professor, and on the way out they see more dinosaurs.
Lindenbrock has been reading Olsen's book,
published in 1914 although it's only 1898 now, and a reference
is made to time's relativity. Inside a water-cave their passage
is blocked. The Professor goes mildly berserk, hacking at the
rock wall. Olsen will solve the problem, and tells them to row
back a short way. He blows up the wall and presumably himself.
During the following cataclysm, the water level rises, lots of
explosions occur, and the four humans emerge from under the earth,
barely missing a volcano which blows.
Hans gets sheep, Glauben and Dumb-ass are married,
the Professor is at the bookstore. He sees a box of metal and
the ancient man through the window, who takes off his glasses
and is Olsen. Another bizarre Welsh drinking song
provides the insane finale.
The hell??? This is pretty dull going, although the giant ape
from a distance is impressive. Why anyone felt that the introduction
of the supposedly mysterious (but really just listless and detached)
Olsen would help is baffling, although Axel is insufferable, Glauben
an idiot, and Hans a prop. Lindenbrock is a stone drag too.
And what are the implications of a city of busy Olsens under the
earth? I want my money back. I want my two hours back. Is it
too late to bail out of this whole dinosaur film project?