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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1988)

I own a lot of terrible movies. Sometimes I’m surprised by how bad they are and other times I know what I’m getting myself into. This is the latter of those choices. While I’ve never seen this movie before I had my suspicions. Partly due to Albert Pyun being the director. Let me be clear I do like some of his stuff, but he has also made some stinkers. To the best of my knowledge this is the only movie that he ever had his name taken off of. When Pyun is embarrassed to have his name on a movie that is frightening.

The action starts off in England… well actually South Africa which is standing in for England and later for Hawaii. We meet Crystina, a nanny who is in the process of getting fired. She goes back to the agency that sent her there prepared to be let go by them as well. A weird call comes in and she is sent to Hawaii… again South Africa standing in for it… to work. When she arrives there is a rock star who has hired her to take care of his baby. His baby is a dog. Okay now what?

Here we meet Richard, a young man, who along with his younger brother and sister Bryan and Sara sneak off to explore a cave. Did I mention the park they go to is closed because of the volcano erupting nearby? There is a mix up where they end up with the dog, so Crystina ends up at the park with them. For some unknown reason she goes into the cave with them. Then there is an earthquake and Sara is left on the surface while the rest of them get trapped below. This is the last time we see Sara, who must be all of five or six. They walk a bit going deeper underground until they stop. Then they have dreams which means we get what appears to be footage that didn’t fit into the cut of the movie, so they just dumped scenes in as dreams. Waste not want not I suppose.

Then Richard goes one direction and is rescued by his parents and the National Guard. How does that make sense? It doesn’t. Crystina and the younger brother, Bryan fall down a hole and land in Atlantis. They meet a bunch of characters that were in Alien from L.A. which was another Pyun directed flick from earlier in the same year. Random stuff happens that makes not a bit of sense and then suddenly Bryan is at his home watching television about Crystina getting married to a guy from Atlantis who we barely saw on screen. Seems that they have opened diplomatic relations with the surface. Wait what? I give up.

Holy shit this is an awful movie. Though it makes sense since it apparently was cobbled together from a couple of other projects to meet some contractually obligated film. The budget was cut so even the new stuff that was shot looks cheap and doesn’t fit with the footage that was left over from Alien from L.A. and feels awkward. This does make sense because it certainly seems like a project put together by accountants and lawyers to get them out from under an agreement. There is no story, characters disappear at random, and the narrative jumps all over the place. I hate to use words like trash and/or garbage when reviewing a movie but if no effort is being made to make it watchable then it seems fair. I can see why Pyun was angry enough to force his name be removed from it.

It is odd that I recognized a couple of familiar faces in this movie. Ian Mitchell-Smith from Weird Science and The Wild Life is Bryan. Charlotte Stewart of Tremors fame appears for a hot minute as the kid’s mother. Hell IMDB even claims that Emo Phillips is in this. Though honestly, I didn’t see him and I’m sure as hell not going to watch this crap again just to find him. I’ll just have to trust the internet on this one. We also get to see stills of Kathy Ireland, who was the star from the previously mentioned Alien from L.A. but don’t be fooled into thinking she is in this movie. Lots of the posters and home video covers have her on them. She isn’t in this flick at all.

How did a film company waste the talent that was available for Journey to the Center of the Earth? As best I can tell this project was lying around during the end of the Golan-Globus/Cannon era. Again, the feeling that it was finished by accountants is making a lot of sense here. I think that they were trying to squeeze any value out of the company during some rough years. Please do me a favor and make the time I spent watching this mean something by avoiding it. Let me take this one for the team. Just to be clear this movie sucks and I’m telling you not to watch it. Cool? Okay I’m going to go question my life choices now. See you next time around.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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