Film and Television
Written by David Critchfield 12/25/98, and published in the book, The Gilak's Guide to Pellucidar, in 2007.
All rights reserved.
Last updated 12-10-10.
FilmAt the Earth's Core (1976, 90 minutes, rated PG)
Productions released the one and only Pellucidar movie. It was produced by
John Dark, directed by Kevin Connor, and written by Milton Subotsky. The
movie's storyline is fairly close to the first book of the series. It begins
with molten metal flowing while the opening credits play; the iron mole is
being constructed. Dr. Abner “Doc” Perry, a professor of geological
engineering, and one of his students, David Innes, are introduced. The
drilling machine is Perry’s invention and is financed by Innes. It can
tunnel at the rate of seventy-eight feet per minute. Interestingly, it has a
meter that displays the mole’s relative location within the Earth’s crust.
iron mole runs amok and delivers Innes and Perry to the inner world. Instead
of Burroughs' Pellucidar, a vast land, teeming with beasts and strange tribes,
the movie Pellucidar is an alien landscape with ancient plants and huge
are attacked by a parrot-beaked, upright dinosaur that chases Innes into
quicksand. A band of Sagoths drives off the beast with their spears and then
chains the two to a slave train alongside other humans. The Sagoths have pig
snouts, sport sideburns, and jabber weirdly.
two friends instantly learn the language of Pellucidar’s human species and
meet Dia (instead of Dian the Beautiful), Ghak, and Hoojah the Sly One (Hooja
in the book). Dia is a princess, of course. They learn that the superior Mahar
race and their servants, the Sagoths, are preying upon the people of
notices that though they have been traveling for what seems like “days,”
it hasn’t turned dark yet. Perry says the perpetual light is probably coming
from glowing magma on the underside of the Earth’s crust, twenty miles
the first book, Innes defends Dia from an unwanted advance by Hoojah, and
then, since he doesn’t realize that custom calls for him to take her as his
mate, he unintentionally offends her. This is a typical Burroughs-like
slave train stops to watch a dinosaur fight. The special effects in this movie
are horrible. The monsters are big mechanical puppets and people in suits.
human slaves are brought to the underground (although this sounds redundant)
city of the Mahars where much of the movie takes place. This dark, dismal
environment gives a claustrophobic feeling to the film. This seems quite the
opposite of what a place called Pellucidar should be. The Webster’s
Dictionary definition of pellucid is: allowing the maximum
passage of light.
the humans are driven into the city, Perry says of the Sagoths, “They’re
so excitable, like all foreigners.” Hoojah steals Dia away, and the rest
of the slaves are brought before the Mahars.
discovers that the Mahars are limited vocally but possess a high degree of
telepathy. The movie depicts them summoning the Sagoths by showing a close-up
of one of their green eyes blinking while eerie music plays.
also learns that the city is dependent upon the slaves who continuously check
and redirect the lava flow that is eating away at its foundations.
attacks a Sagoth slave-master and manages to escape, eventually finding his
way out of the tunnels. Outside, he happens upon a campfire and tries to steal
food just as its owner returns. They fight but are interrupted when a
man-eating plant seizes the Pellucidarian. Innes helps him free. The man’s
name is Ra (Ja the Mezop in the book). Burroughs’ Mezops are described as
being similar in appearance to Native Americans. The clothing worn by the
movie Ra does seem to fit this description.
takes Innes to the Mahar grotto so he can witness first hand their horrible
ritual. Instead of forcing victims underwater by mind control as Burroughs’
Mahars do, the movie Mahars swoop down on the slave girls from the grotto
walls. Although the scene is meant to be horrible, the Mahars are just too
comical to be taken seriously.
and Ra decide the Mahars must be defeated. Then they are promptly captured.
Innes is forced to fight a dinosaur in the arena while his friends watch,
helplessly. He manages to win the battle. Then a Mahar swoops down on Ra who
kills it. This leads to a revolt of the slaves.
tells Innes that he has found the Mahar secret and takes him to see it during
the confusion. It is the origin of every Mahar that is born and looks like a
giant egg, but its purpose is not explained.
and Perry emerge from the tunnels to find Dia being threatened by Hoojah. Then
a fire-breathing dinosaur attacks. Perry, suddenly becoming useful, produces a
bow and arrow and shoots the beast off its ledge. It falls into a chasm and
and Dia work out their romantic misunderstanding then they come upon Jubal the
Ugly One who has long desired Dia as his mate. Innes fights Jubal and kills
him. Hoojah runs off.
trains the tribes of Pellucidar in the use of the bow and arrow. They devise a
plan to sneak into the Mahar city and destroy their enemies. Ra is killed in
the attack but not before he cuts off the main fire supply.
the melee, Perry and Dia confront a Mahar that begins to stare at them. Perry
shouts, “You can’t mesmerize me. I’m British!”
Mahars are no match for the humans’ new weapons. The egg explodes, Mahars
explode, Hoojah is killed, and the Mahar city is destroyed.
people of Pellucidar are free, and Innes and Perry decide to return to the
surface, while Dia, tears in her eyes, decides she will remain in her world.
last scene is meant to be humorous and shows the iron mole emerging inside the
gates of the White House grounds as guards scurry about.
David Innes---------------Doug McClure
Abner Perry---------------Peter Cushing
Hoojah the Sly One------Sean Lynch
Jubal the Ugly One-------Michael Crane
Sagoth Chief---------------Bobby Parr
Girl Slave-------------------Andee Cromarty
A copy of Milton Subotsky’s
screenplay can usually be found for sale at an ERB convention.
At the Earth’s Core – by Mack, Weekly
Variety vol. 283, no. 7, June 23, 1976
the Earth's Core
- by Pete Ogden, ERBANIA #39, Summer 1976
the Earth's Core as a Movie’ - by Caz, ERB-dom #88,
Earth’s Core There’s Thrills & Terror Galore
– by Forrest J. Ackerman, Famous Monsters of Filmland #129, October
- by Ward Orndoff, ERB-APA #34, Summer of 1992
q Rotten to the Earth's Core - by Don Mankowski, Horror-Wood Webzine, December 2001, and reprinted in Van Helsing's Journal in 2004
q At the Earth's Core on Film - by Bob O'Malley, ERB-APA #34, Summer 1992
q B-Movie Central
the Earth’s Core
– by Baron Scarpia on October 6, 2008
q At the Earth's Core – by G.W. Thomas, Dark Worlds, November 19, 2008
q Edgar Rice Burroughs' At The Earth’s Core (1976) – by Bill Hillman in ERBzine #3031, March 2010
Filmation's Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
Filmation's color cartoon on
CBS, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, took the ape-man to Pellucidar in only
one episode. According to the closing credits, Don Christensen produced the
show, and the associate producers and writers were Len Janson and Chuck Menville.
Episode #12 (Season 1) - Tarzan
at the Earth's Core (November 27, 1976)
Tarzan saves a young tarmangani from Numa, the lion. The boy is then taken captive by three men who take him into a volcano and through a network of caverns to a city. Tarzan and N'Kima follow. Tarzan frees the boy, and they leave the dark world and enter Pellucidar. The skies here are colored a brilliant pink. Although the name, Pellucidar is never used, that’s where they are. A thipdar carries Tarzan off to its nest, an event that also occurs in the novel. The king of the dark world and Ovan, the king of a tribe of cliff-dwellers, are traditional enemies. (In the novel, Ovan is a youth who Tarzan saves from a ryth). At the end of the episode, their children, with Tarzan’s help, bring the two tribes together in peace. Interestingly, Tarzan’s cry of the bull-ape gets the same response from Pellucidar’s mammoths as Johnny Weissmuller’s got from his movie elephants.
This episode can be watched on You Tube in its entirety, courtesy of Alen (hexseeker). He has broken it into three parts:
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
Tarzan the Epic Adventures (August 28, 1996)
The two-hour television movie,
Tarzan’s Return, kicked off the season of Tarzan the Epic
Adventures. The producer was Burton Armus, and the director was Brian
and Paul D’Arnot are in a casino in France. Tarzan is introduced to the
Count de Coude and his beautiful daughter, Colette. Tarzan recognizes the
amulet around her neck. Colette’s fiancé, Nikolas Rokoff, and his henchman,
Alexis Paulvitch, confront Colette and Tarzan. There is a brief fight. Later,
Rokoff steals the amulet, kidnaps Colette, and goes to Africa.
two Russians visit the lavish palace of the Arab, Achmet Zek. They talk of the
jewel, which is the key to the Temple of the Ancients. The temple contains a
pylon of gold.
and D’Arnot follow the Russians to the palace of Zek but fall into the hands
of the Arab. Also a prisoner is Joshua Mugambi, the son of a Waziri Chief.
Tarzan, D’Arnot, Mugambi, and even Colette all end up for sale at a slave
auction. They manage to escape, and then, leaving the other two behind in
safety, Tarzan and the Waziri follow the Russians and Arabs into the jungle.
Here Tarzan is happy to be home, and gives the victory-cry of the bull ape,
courtesy of Johnny Weismuller.
old man guides the villains to the Temple of the Ancients. A monster snake
guards it, but they make it inside with the help of a hand grenade. The old
man places the amulet in its spot in the gold pylon, thus activating it. Part
1 ends as Tarzan is swallowed by the giant snake.
the Temple of the Ancients, Paulvitch removes a red crystal from the solid
gold pylon. His action causes a mysterious portal to open, and the Russians
and Arabs are drawn into it and drop out of a hole in the sky in savage
Pellucidar. They gaze in amazement and fear at the upward-curving horizon and
the strange sun. Paulvitch’s compass spins wildly in circles. Immediately
they are attacked by a flying reptile that they later learn is a Mahar. The
beast carries off one of the Arabs and steals the red crystal.
the Temple of the Ancients, Tarzan pries open the jaws of super-snake, and
Mugambi jams a stick in to keep them that way. Animal-lover Tarzan realizes
the snake will die unless the stick is removed, and saves the reptile from an
unpleasant fate. The two also pass through the portal into Pellucidar. They
see a pair of grazing diplodocus.
Russians and Arabs are captured by Sagoths, who move around by knuckle
walking, and are taken to the caverns of Mora, Queen of the Mahars, and her
band of flesh-eating, thong swimsuit-wearing, beautiful female warriors.
Tarzan and Mugambi encounter a band of tribesmen called Zorhams,
including a spunky blonde named Jana. (In the books, Jana has red hair, and is
from Zoram.) The Mahars have been snatching members of the tribe for food.
Rokoff bargains with Mora, offering her control of the surface world in
exchange for his freedom. The two are attracted to each other. Mora is
interested, and licks his nose.
leads Tarzan and Mugambi into the Mahar cave network. Within, Tarzan saves
Jana from falling into the river of fire. They embrace briefly, and Jana looks
at Tarzan differently now.
and his friends are discovered spying on the Mahars who transform into flying
reptiles and attack. Several fall to Tarzan’s deadly arrows, and then the
friends flee the caverns.
and Mora leave Pellucidar through the portal. Tarzan and Mugambi follow them.
Jana wishes to come with them, but Tarzan convinces her to remain in her
world, and gives her his bow and a kiss.
in the Temple of the Ancients, Tarzan and Mora fight. The Mahar shoots laser
beams from her eyes. Tarzan gets the upper hand and pushes her back through
the portal. Mugambi does the same to Rokoff. The red crystal is inserted in
the gold pylon, closing the portal. The surface world is safe from
Nikolas Rokoff--------------------Andrew Divoff
Alexis Paulvitch-------------------Nicholas Worth
Achmet Zek------------------------Bill Capizzi
Mora, Queen of the Mahars----Cory Everson*
Joshua Mugambi------------------Ralph Wilcox
Paul D’Arnot-----------------------Dennis Christopher
Colette de Coude-----------------Lydie Denier**
de Coude-------------------Jean-Paul Vignon
*A six-time “Miss Olympia”
**Who also played Jane in the
1991 Tarzan TV series starring Wolf Larsen
copy of Armus’ screenplay can usually be found for sale at an ERB convention.
A. Salvatore's book, Tarzan the Epic Adventures, is based on the teleplay
and is reviewed in the Pastiches article in this book.
Tracy Griffin wrote the article, Tarzan the Epic Adventures: Make-up Effects,
in Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 2, 1996.
Episode #17 - Tarzan and
(March 2, 1997)
Dennis Kerner wrote this
hour-long direct sequel to the TV movie. Nickolas Rokoff, this time played by
Stephen Macht, steals the iron mole to escape from Pellucidar, but he is
followed by the Mahars on a quest to recover their jewel of immortality. The
Mahars are killing villagers and leaving their bloodless bodies behind.
Rokoff’s brother is a victim. A Mahar morphs into the likeness of Tarzan’s
friend Themba’s mother, and holds him hostage for the jewel.
Rokoff has a line similar to Abner Perry’s in the 1976 movie; this time it’s
“You can’t hypnotize me, I’m Russian!” Tarzan and Rokoff take the mole
back to Pellucidar. They are immediately captured by Sagoths and taken to the
Mahar temple. They refuse to give the Mahar queen the jewel. Eventually the two
escape, free Themba and the other prisoners, and flee in the mole. Halfway to the
surface, the queen catches up to them, and begins to rip into the mole. Rokoff,
not such a bad guy in this episode, leaps out with the jewel, sacrificing
himself so that Tarzan and Themba can make it to the surface. They do, and
immediately initiate the mole’s self-destruct device. It blows up, sealing the
tunnel to Pellucidar.
Here's a short video clip of the iron mole entering Pellucidar: Next stop, Pellucidar!
John Carl Buechler, director
of Tarzan and the Mahars, describes his love for the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and how he
designed and created the fantasy characters on the show at his
includes pictures of the iron mole, Sagoths, and Mahars.
q Cory Everson’s homepage
Walt Disney's animated Tarzan
TV series visited Pellucidar in two episodes. These thirty-minute color shows
were originally shown in 2001 on UPN. They were directed by Steve Loter.
Tarzan---------------------Michael T. Weiss
Professor Porter---------Jeff Bennett
Samuel T. Philander----Craig Ferguson
#17 - Tarzan and the Hidden World (September 14, 2001) –
written by Mark Palmer
Professor Archimedes Q.
Porter’s bitter rival, Samuel T. Philander, comes to Africa to find out why
Porter has been missing for over a year and to steal any scientific discoveries
he may have made. During a discussion about dinosaurs, Tarzan tells Prof. Porter
and Jane that they still exist in a hidden land called Pellucidar. Tarzan
reluctantly agrees to take them to this dangerous place. The entrance shaft is
covered with brush. Using a rope, they climb down the shaft into Pellucidar.
Philander follows them. The group survives attacks from velociraptors, a
triceratops, and a tyrannosaurus rex. Philander takes many pictures of the
dinosaurs and then tries to strand the others in Pellucidar by climbing back to
the surface and pulling up the rope. The others manage to shoot back up the
shaft on top a dinosaur skull propelled by a methane geyser. The episode ends
with Philander presenting his photographs at the Royal Science Academy, but
something has gone wrong. Apparently a certain monkey has monkeyed around with
This episode can be watched on You Tube in its entirety. It has been broken into three parts. The first is located at www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZ_pu0R0SAM .
#29 - Tarzan and the Beast From Below (September 28, 2001) –
written by Ken Koonce and David Wiemers
In this episode, a
velociraptor from Pellucidar comes to Tarzan's Africa via the shaft. Tarzan
finds a leopard that has been killed by an unknown beast and says something
like, "A leopard is never prey." Tarzan and Terk climb down to
Pellucidar on a rope, returning the raptor to the inner world. They seal up the
opening with a rock.
of the Jungle by David Fury (2001 supplement)
q John Carl Buechler’s Internet site
q ERBzine #14a
q John Martin and Scott Tracy Griffin have provided movie review information. Thanks!
von Horst's Pellucidar established December 25, 1998