At the Earth’s Core (1976) – By Duane L. Martin

With the financial backing of David Innes (Doug McClure), Dr. Abner Perry (Peter Cushing) has built a drilling machine that is about to make its maiden voyage into the bowels of the Earth.  Unfortunately, while everything seems to go all right at first, eventually things get out of hand and they lose control of the machine, which takes them to an underworld land called Pelucida, full of prehistoric plants and monsters, as well as primitive tribes of people who inexplicably seem to all speak English.

This underworld is ruled by an intelligent and telepathic race of prehistoric bird creatures called the Mehas that use their mental abilities to control a population of slaver creatures who are as much monster as they are human.  Using these creatures, they enslave the primitive peoples, using them not only as slave labor, but also as food and as the centerpieces of their own sadistic forms of entertainment.  When David and Dr. Perry are captured and enslaved, they meet Dia (Caroline Munro), a princess of one of the tribes who is just stunningly beautiful, despite the fact that she lives in a primitive world.  Unfortunately, Dia has more problems than just being a slave.  Hoojah the Sly One is plotting to kidnap her so he can give her to Jubal the Ugly one to have as his bride.  So not only do David and Dr. Perry have to find a way to join the tribes together so they can form some sort of an organized rebellion, but they have to save Dia from the hands of Hoojah and Jubal, and discover the secret of the Mehas so they can destroy them once and for all.

As many of you know, I am particularly fond of classic films, and At the Earth’s Core has always been a favorite of mine.  When I found out that Kino was releasing a blu-ray of this film, I jumped at the chance to review it.  I’ve owned the MGM Midnite Movies DVD of it for quite a few years now, but as always, when a blu-ray finally became available, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.  So, how does it compare with the MGM DVD?  Well…

As far as visual quality, the MGM DVD looks ok, but there’s a lot of noise and grain in the picture.  The Kino blu-ray release is far cleaner and nicer looking visually.  The sound on both releases is just fine, but aside from the visual quality, it’s what’s included in each release that separates them the most.

The MGM DVD has no special features other than the trailer, yet it has French and Spanish subtitles, which has always baffled me.  Why would they do French and Spanish when English speaking people were going to be their largest consumers?  MGM did this on many of their releases, and it always seemed rather pointless to me.  Subtitles are an important part of any release, because hearing impaired people need them in order to be able to watch and enjoy the film, and as far as I’m concerned, failing to include at the very least English subtitles in a release amounts to being nothing more than cheap and lazy.  At least MGM made some effort though, which is more than they did with the Kino release, which has no subtitles at all.

However, subtitles aside, the MGM DVD is totally bare bones, whereas the Kino blu-ray contains an on camera interview with Caroline Munro, an on camera interview with the film’s director, Kevin Connor, audio commentary with Kevin Connor and the films theatrical trailer.  So not only is the Kino release superior in quality, but it includes some nice special features as well.  Despite the fact that it doesn’t have subtitles, it is far superior in quality and is likely about the best quality release you’re going to find of this film for a while.  Who knows, maybe someone will come out with a 40th anniversary special edition in 2016.

While lacking in subtitles, this release is superior in every other way to the old MGM release, and if you’re a fan of cheesy, classic films like I am, then you’ll definitely want to add this new blu-ray release from Kino to your collection.  If you’re already a fan of the film and own the MGM DVD like I did, then you’re gonna want to get this one, because it’s a serious upgrade.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page on the Kino Lorber website at: http://www.kinolorber.com/video.php?id=1858