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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Land Unknown aka 'Der Flug zur Hölle' [Blu-ray]

 

(Virgil W. Vogel, 1957)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Universal International Pictures (UI)

Video: i-catcher Media (Anolis Film Entertainment)

 

Disc:

Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:18:06.041

Disc Size: 23,322,709,124 bytes

Feature Size: 22,264,608,768 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.71 Mbps

Chapters: 19

Case: Black slim Blu-ray case

Release date: August 15th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DUB: DTS-HD Master Audio German 1568 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1568 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1592 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1592 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

German, none

 

 

 

 

Extras:

• German Program (:46)
• German Trailer (2:08)
• English Trailer (2:02)
• Poster and Stills Gallery (1:59)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Generous portions of The Secret Land, the 1948 documentary on the Byrd Antarctic Expedition, were worked into the action of The Land Unknown. Jock Mahoney and William Reynolds play Hal and Jack, leaders of an expedition to the South Pole. Along for the ride is girl reporter Maggie (Shawn Smith), over whose affections Hal and Jack constantly battle. Making a forced landing in the Antarctic, our intrepid explorers find that they've descended well below sea level. Before long, they are attacked by prehistoric beasts which have been preserved in this heretofore uncharted region. When not fending off Tyrannosauri and Pterodactyls, Hal, Jack, Maggie and copter pilot Steve (Phil Harvey) try to steer clear of an unwieldly carnivorous plant. Further complicating things is the presence of a long-lost, slightly demented scientist (Henry Brandon) who craves companionship...specifically the female companionship of Maggie.

 

 

The Film:

Superior special effects make this fantasy adventure a respectable endeavor. Mahoney heads an expedition to the Antarctic, but his helicopter is damaged when it collides with a giant flying bird. The group is forced to land in a place inhabited by creatures from the Mesozoic Era. Also stranded there is Brandon, a scientist from an expedition made 10 years earlier. He has gone insane during his stay, but has somehow managed to survive. The parts from his disabled helicopter allow the stranded crew to repair their own and to return to civilization. Well-directed, with believable performances, including that of Brandon, who was an actual member of Adm. Richard Byrd's 1947 South Pole expedition.

Excerpt from TVGuide located HERE

The Land Unknown is helmed by longtime TV director Virgil W. Vogel ("The Mole People"). It's based on the story by Charles Palmer and is written by Laszlo Gorog and William N. Robson. Former stuntman Jock Mahoney stars and does his own stunts. Though the special effects can't compare to those of recent sci-fi films such as Jurassic Park, nevertheless they're reasonably convincing all things considered. The special effect gurus, Fred Knoth, Orien Ernest and Jack Kevan, had the plants growing upside down that gave it that pre-historic look and thereby created just the right atmosphere to keep things credible.

A US Navy expedition goes to explore the South Pole. Commander Harold Roberts (Jock Mahoney), a geophysicist, leads the mapping and resource search expedition. Lt. Jack Carmen (William Reynolds) is the helicopter pilot. Pretty Margaret Hathaway (Shawn Smith, the former Shirley Patterson) is the lone female among 800 men, who is an investigative reporter for a science magazine. Steve Miller (Phil Harvey) is a machinist and co-pilot. When the helicopter these four are on is forced down because of a storm into a volcanic canyon, they find themselves stuck in a steamy tropical valley that is untouched by the Ice Age, where dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus Rex (just a guy walking around in big inflated rubber suit, that's too clumsily created to be frightening) from the Mesozoic era still roam.

Excerpt from Ozus World located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The new German Blu-ray of The Land Unknown is the aspect ratio of 2.35:1 as it was on DVD in the The 6-disc Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection. We've added a couple of capture comparisons below. You can see the 1080P is brighter and crisper with more layered contrast. I saw a few artifacts (in the fog) at around 15-minutes, but otherwise seemed like a strong transfer. This is single-layered but has a very high bitrate for the 1 1/4 hour film. There is a touch of depth and looks quite pleasing in-motion. Visually this gets high marks.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Universal DVD (reviewed HERE) TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Universal DVD (reviewed HERE) TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is transferred via a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1592 kbps in original English and a similarly robust German DUB. There are some robust effects with the creature's roars, growls and grunts. It's not Jurassic Park but the audio made me think of Spielberg's dino-flic. The score is by an uncredited collaboration piece-meal of Henry Mancini, Heinz Roemheld, Hans J. Salter, Herman Stein. It supports the film playing in the background but doesn't seem to advance much in lossless.  There are fully optional German subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

 

Extras :

Not much - a slideshow gallery, two trailers and the scanned German program text. I'm sure there is something to be said about the film - even in a 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' sarcasm way.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
If I don't say it enough, I'm a huge fan of these 50's 'creature-feature' science-fiction films. I watched these every Saturday afternoon as a young boy. I won't disagree that this is a lesser effort but I still enjoyed the premise, effects and characters.  The Blu-ray advances the presentation - notably in the audio as well as the video. Along with Tarantula, The Mole People and The Monolith Monsters Blu-rays I'm very pleased to own this in the higher resolution and hope more similar 50's science-fiction films are forthcoming. 

Gary Tooze

September 24th, 2014

 

 


 




 

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