Friday 19 January 2024

Triangulation: The Land That Time Forgot at 100

I was once again offered the opportunity to write for DMR Books - as this year marks a century since The Land That Time Forgot (or the novel fix-up for "The Land That Time Forgot," "The People That Time Forgot," and "Out of Time's Abyss") was first published, I shared some of my thoughts and observations on the book, the stories, and the world of Caspak.

There are still many, many facets of the lost world hidden behind the Ice Barriers of the Isle of Caprona to explore, from the dozens of fauna, to the role of flora, the mystery of Luata, & exactly what the Weiroo are. As with the Dinosauria, I hope to analyse them, at least before the next centennial.

An interesting (if tangentially related) development over the past year has been the surprising - but no less welcome - resurrection of Amicus Productions. Amicus, of course, was the studio which brought The Land That Time Forgot and The People That Time Forgot (as well as Burroughs' At The Earth's Core & Warlords of Atlantis):

Our aim is to re-establish Amicus Productions as a beacon of independent British horror. We’re concocting a film that captures the essence and panache that rendered the studio iconic. By emphasizing atmospheric storytelling, tangible effects and a genuine respect for the genre, our vision is to teleport audiences back to British horror’s golden epoch. This venture transcends mere studio revival - it’s a renaissance of passion, tribute to a rich legacy and a testament to indie cinema’s prowess.
 - Lawrie Brewster, President

I just barely missed out on the Kickstarter (I was sorely tempted to somehow scrounge together enough money for the Associate Producer credit, simply for the joy of seeing my name on an Amicus Production!) but with luck and hard work, this will keep Amicus producing. In the Grip of Terror is particularly cool, as it follows classic horror anthologies in bringing seminal stories from foundational authors to the cinematic medium - Benson, Bierce, and Lovecraft, in this case. Old HPL has been the font from which many horror adaptations have drawn their water, but the last Benson adaptation was literally a decade ago, & the last Bierce not much later.

Which gets me thinking... The Caspak trilogy has one third which has not yet been adapted to screen. "Out Of Time's Abyss" is much more overtly horror-oriented than its predecessors, with the Wieroo taking centre stage as antagonist, though the ever-present threats of pterodactyls and dinosaurs and Cenozoic megafauna remain. Wouldn't it be fitting for Amicus to finally finish the story, to return once more to Caspak? I tend to be, shall we say, ambivalent about finishing certain trilogies after several decades, but this is something that's been niggling at me since I was a wee lad.

I mean, if I had my way, the film would be a deliberately retrograde throwback to the 1970s cinematic style, complete with rubber puppets on rear projection (though an evolution of that old technique is working wonders ever since its introduction on The Mandalorian); matte paintings & location shooting at Reading clay pits; get Kevin Connor back in some capacity if he isn't up for directing; find some roles for Susan Penhaligon, Bobby Parr, Dana Gillespie, Sarah Douglas, anyone else still around from the original dualogy. At the same time, get the best "monster" actors for the Weiroo: you need someone with a remarkable physicality like Doug Jones or Javier Botet to play Him Who Speaks For Luata or Fosh-bal-soj. Likewise, actors with commanding physical presences are important for the many tribes of Caspak, be they the brutish men of the Bo-Lu and Kro-Lu, or the captivating women of the Band-Lu and Galu.

For me, The Land That Time Forgot would be near impossible to update to modern times: so much of it is steeped in the time in which it was written that it simply cannot be transposed without significantly altering much of what makes it unique among Lost World stories. And sometimes, that's perfectly fine - most Tarzan adaptations are happy to keep him in turn-of-the-century Africa, and the late 19th century background of John Carter is inextricable from the character and the story. So it is, I think, with The Land That Time Forgot - but that is, ironically, also what makes it timeless.

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