Rated PG / Color / 91 minutes
Directed by Kevin Connor
Also Known As: Caprona – Das vergessene Land
Purchase it: Amazon.com (Blu-ray) | Umbrella Entertainment (Blu-ray)


Growing up, my fascination with prehistoric creatures, sharks, and cryptids led me to become something of a young expert on the subject. I devoured books, collected toys and model kits—those wooden dinosaur skeleton kits that fell apart at the slightest touch—and amassed a VHS library of dinosaur-themed films. One of my absolute favorites was THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT.

I have vivid memories of my old VHS tape, featuring a variation of Tom Chantrell’s classic poster art, albeit with some peculiar additions like a giant octopus, a bathysphere/mini-sub hybrid, and a menacing manta ray with an “attack snorkel” protruding from its forehead! (Click here for context.)

On the back of the sleeve, Video Treasures amusingly used a still from its sequel, THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT, showcasing a bearded Doug McClure and a scantily clad Dana Gillespie. The combination of dinosaurs and possible cavewoman cleavage was irresistible to my preadolescent mind! Despite the lack of “troglodyte tatas” in the film, I still fell in love with this Amicus production.

Years later, I upgraded from my battered VHS tape to an MGM DVD double-feature. Then, Umbrella Entertainment’s new Blu-ray arrived, and it was time to bid farewell to an old friend. After finding a new home for my beloved DVD, I revisited this cherished film in high-definition!

THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT begins with someone tossing a canister over a cliff into the sea. This canister is discovered off the coast of England, containing a manuscript written by Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure), an American passenger on a lost British merchant ship. The film then shifts to a flashback, revealing how Tyler became stranded on what we learn is the lost sub-continent of Caprona.

Set in 1918 during World War I, a German U-boat commanded by Captain Von Schoenvorts (John McEnery) sinks a merchant vessel suspected of carrying munitions to England. Taking advantage of thick fog, the sub surfaces to recharge its batteries and allow the crew some fresh air. Unbeknownst to the Germans, Bowen Tyler, biologist Lisa Clayton (Susan Penhaligon), and a small group of British sailors, led by Captain Bradley (Keith Barron), survive the attack. They board the vessel, surprise the Germans, and take over the submarine. However, the conflict continues as both sides attempt to outmaneuver each other.

Eventually, they agree to sail to a neutral port, but someone tampers with their navigation equipment, leaving them lost in the South Atlantic. They discover a massive uncharted island that Von Schoenvorts suspects is Caprona (or Caspak). With no docking options, the commanders find an underwater passage leading into Caprona’s interior and decide to enter.

With Bowen Tyler taking charge, the U-boat navigates the narrow underwater entrance, entering a tropical world teeming with prehistoric life. The land, rivers, and skies are filled with various dinosaurs, most of which see the newcomers as food. For survival, the British and Germans call a truce and collaborate. With the help of a friendly Neanderthal named Ahm (Bobby Parr), they discover a crude oil source and begin refining it.

Escaping Caprona proves difficult. Despite modern weaponry, the unlikely allies dwindle in number due to attacks by dinosaurs and evolved cavemen tribes. A volcanic eruption leads to a final mutiny and a frantic effort to secure enough fuel for a desperate escape. Many perish, and those who survive are doomed to remain on THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT forever!

Revisiting this film brought back memories of my childhood, split between the local library and the video store. Books fueled my scientific curiosity, while films gave me the irrational hope that dinosaurs still thrived in secret. It’s no surprise I adored THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT. Even now, I enjoy this adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ adventure tale!

While I once skipped to “the good stuff,” my recent viewing had me engrossed in the struggle between German and British sailors in the first act. Von Schoenvorts’ men regain control of their vessel after a daring British raid, but Tyler and friends retake the sub and torpedo a German resupply ship. Watching both sides vie for advantage keeps things interesting until we reach Caprona!

Upon arriving, the film becomes enjoyable as the factions band together to survive the hostile landscape. It wastes no time throwing dinosaurs at you—literally—as a Mosasaurus snatches a sailor, and a Plesiosaur attempts to eat Bowen Tyler. (Ironically, the aquatic reptile ends up as dinner!) These river-dwelling beasts are just the beginning of the discoveries our quasi-castaways make.

The dinosaurs, brought to life with puppets by Roger Dicken, a UK special effects veteran, were chosen over stop-motion for their fluid look. While not convincing, Dicken’s puppets effectively create the illusion of living creatures. In one scene, Allosaurs drool as they charge through the jungle, and in another, a Ceratosaurus lets out a primal scream after being mortally wounded by a Triceratops protecting its nest. A poignant moment shows a tear rolling down a vanquished Styracosaurus’s snout. These touches give the dinosaurs life, enhancing the suspension of disbelief.

Puppetry was the main effects method, with large rubber mock-ups used for close encounters between humans and dinosaurs. The majority of interactions were created using front projection, an effective technique Connor would use again in AT THE EARTH’S CORE.

THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT boasts a fantastic cast led by Doug McClure as the brave, intelligent, and seemingly indestructible Bowen Tyler. Initially declining the role, McClure changed his mind after Samuel Z. Arkoff co-financed the film. Doug’s experience in shooting action scenes proved invaluable.

John McEnery as Captain Von Schoenvorts gives a noteworthy performance as a level-headed German U-boat commander. It shocked me to learn he was British and dubbed, with Anton Diffring supplying the German dialogue expertly. The dubbing is so well done that you’d never know unless I mentioned it!

Susan Penhaligon plays Lisa Clayton, the film’s lone female character, who defies the “damsel in distress” trope. As a biologist, Lisa is excited rather than terrified about being stranded in Caprona, showing her capability and strength. She saves Bowen Tyler and assists in reclaiming the U-boat.

The cast also includes Anthony Ainley as Dietz, Von Schoenvorts’ cold-hearted second-in-command, Keith Barron as the loyal Captain Bradley, who tragically gets a bullet for refusing to abandon Bowen and Lisa, and Bobby Parr as the lovable Ahm. Ahm is the only friendly native, leading them to crude oil and shedding light on the island’s inhabitants and evolution.

THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT is a faithful adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ story, delivering the goods. Despite some dated effects, many still hold up well, especially the miniatures. The U-boat, in particular, looks realistic. With a strong cast, decent pacing, numerous dinosaurs, and a subtle, forgettable soundtrack, THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT has stood the test of time, earning a rating of: 4.5 out of 5.