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.

Film

At the Earth's Core (1976, 90 minutes, rated PG)

movie poster. note that it's 4000 miles to PellucidarAmicus 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.

The 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 mushrooms.

They 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.

The 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 Pellucidar.

Innes 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 above.

Like 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 romantic misunderstanding.

The 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.

The 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.

As 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.

Perry 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.

Perry 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.

Innes 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.

Caroline Munro as DiaRa 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.

Innes 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.

Perry 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.

Innes 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 explodes! video cover

Innes 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.

Perry 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.

During the melee, Perry and Dia confront a Mahar that begins to stare at them. Perry shouts, “You can’t mesmerize me. I’m British!”

The Mahars are no match for the humans’ new weapons. The egg explodes, Mahars explode, Hoojah is killed, and the Mahar city is destroyed.

The 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.

The 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.

Cast:

            David Innes---------------Doug McClure

            Abner Perry---------------Peter Cushing

            Dia---------------------------Caroline Munro

            Ra----------------------------Cy Grant

            Ghak------------------------Godfrey James

            Hoojah the Sly One------Sean Lynch

            Jubal the Ugly One-------Michael Crane

            Sagoth Chief---------------Bobby Parr

            Girl Slave-------------------Andee Cromarty

            Dowsett---------------------Keith Barron

            Maisie------------------------Helen Gill

            Gadsby----------------------Anthony Verner

            Photographer--------------Robert Gillespie  

A copy of Milton Subotsky’s screenplay can usually be found for sale at an ERB convention.

Reviews:

     q  At the Earth’s Core – by Jeff Freedman, Hollywood Reporter vol. 241, no. 48, June 17, 1976

     q     At the Earth’s Core – by Mack, Weekly Variety vol. 283, no. 7, June 23, 1976

q       At the Earth's Core - by Pete Ogden, ERBANIA #39, Summer 1976

q       ‘At the Earth's Core as a Movie’ - by Caz, ERB-dom #88, September 1976

q     Delicious Corn – by Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times, September 1, 1976

  q Three Offerings That Don’t Deliver: ‘Burnt,’ ‘Earth’s Core,’ and Tom Jones’ – by Richard Gertner, Motion Picture Production Digest vol. 4, no. 8, September 15, 1976

q        At the Earth’s Core There’s Thrills & Terror Galore – by Forrest J. Ackerman, Famous Monsters of Filmland #129, October 1976

q       Musings from Sasoom - 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

q       At 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 

 

 


 Television

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.

  Vocal talent:

Robert Ridgely----Tarzan

Lou Scheimer------N'Kima

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 Yuzna.

Part 1

Tarzan 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.

The 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.

Tarzan 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.

An 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.

Part 2

Inside 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.

Outside 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.

The 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.

Jana 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.

Tarzan 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.

Rokoff 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.

Back 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 Pellucidar’s denizens.

Cast:

Tarzan-------------------------------Joe Lara

            Nikolas Rokoff--------------------Andrew Divoff

            Alexis Paulvitch-------------------Nicholas Worth

            Achmet Zek------------------------Bill Capizzi

            Mora, Queen of the Mahars----Cory Everson*

            Jana-----------------------------------Linda Hoffman

            Joshua Mugambi------------------Ralph Wilcox

            Paul D’Arnot-----------------------Dennis Christopher

            Colette de Coude-----------------Lydie Denier**

Count de Coude-------------------Jean-Paul Vignon 

Also starring:

John Malloy

Isaac Singleton

Giovanni Sirchia

Gary Bristow 

*A six-time “Miss Olympia”

**Who also played Jane in the 1991 Tarzan TV series starring Wolf Larsen

 NOTES:

q       A copy of Armus’ screenplay can usually be found for sale at an ERB convention.

q       R. A. Salvatore's book, Tarzan the Epic Adventures, is based on the teleplay and is reviewed in the Pastiches article in this book.

q       Scott Tracy Griffin wrote the article, Tarzan the Epic Adventures: Make-up Effects, in Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 2, 1996.

 

Episode #17 - Tarzan and the Mahars (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. 

Themba (Aaron Seville) is in all the episodes except the premiere. Also starring in this episode are Nan Hamilton, Nomsa Nene, Sicelo Dlamini, and Don McLeod in his recurring role as Bolgani.

Here's a short video clip of the iron mole entering Pellucidar: Next stop, Pellucidar!

Links:

q       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 site. It includes pictures of the iron mole, Sagoths, and Mahars.

q       Cory Everson’s homepage

q       Lydie Denier’s homepage  

   

Disney's The Legend of Tarzan

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.  

Vocal Talent:

            Tarzan---------------------Michael T. Weiss

            Jane-------------------------Olivia d’Abo

            Professor Porter---------Jeff Bennett

            Terk------------------------April Winchell

            Kala-------------------------Susanne Blakeslee

            Samuel T. Philander----Craig Ferguson

 

Episode #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 the camera. 

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

Episode #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.

   


Sources:

q       Kings 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

von Horst's Pellucidar established December 25, 1998