The movie that time forgot

The latest Fortean Times (June 2007) has a great article by Kim Newman on Hammer Films, the much-loved British horror film production company. While discussing the early 1970s, when Hammer's fortunes were declining, he refers in passing to 'the tragically unmade Zeppelin vs Pterodactyls'. That's all he said, but it was enough ... could it have been a cross-over between two of my favourite genres -- lost world movies and airship movies? Indeed it could. Here's a poster Hammer mocked up to pique the interest of potential investors:

Zeppelin v Pterodactyls

And I managed to find a very brief plot summary:

The story was along the lines of THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, with a German Zeppelin being blown off-course during a bombing raid on London and winding up at a "lost continent"-type place.

Oh man ... tragically unmade is right! What more you could want from a film, I ask you.

Still, it does remind me of two Amicus productions (which can easily pass for Hammer movies in a darkened cinema ...), The Land that Time Forgot (1975) and its sequel The People that Time Forgot (1977). In Land (which I'm not sure I've seen), it's a German U-boat which finds the lost world, during the First World War. In People (which I have), a steamship sets out to look for the survivors of the first film, and in the process its amphibian seaplane gets into a dogfight with a pterodactyl. So at least between the two they have some of the elements of the abortive ZvP. But nothing so gloriously cheesy as a Zeppelin (and anachronistic trapeze fighters) versus pterodactyls.

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29 thoughts on “The movie that time forgot

  1. Apropos of nothing much, you've reminded me of the marvellously absurd Zeppelin (1971), in which the Boche fiendishly plan to purloin and destroy the Magna Carta - an act which will guarantee victory, though the film never makes it particularly clear why.

  2. Post author

    Come now, surely the Magna Carta was all that keeping the British people going through the disasters of the Somme, Passchendaele, etc? Of course, the Germans would have had to destroy all four of the original Magna Carta copies ...

  3. Chris Williams

    Not since my son brought _Dinosaur Pirates_ home from school have I seen a title that has so much promise. My money's on the pterodactyls, incidentally.

    ObKOB The Land That Time Forgot was co-written by Michael Moorcock, just after he was writing his own take on post-KOB fiction, the Nomad of Time series.

  4. Post author

    I did not know that! Though I've read a bit of Moorcock, he never made it onto my A-list. But I did like the Oswald Bastable books a lot, which is perhaps not at all surprising ...

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  6. Roger Todd

    Blimey, I'd forgotten all about that, thanks for posting that image! I've only ever seen it in black & white - David Annan reproduces it in his 'Catastrophe!', a strange book, sort of an extended essay on disaster movies with hundreds of photos. He also chucks in a couple of stills from 'Zeppelin'. And I've got the DVD of 'The Land...' on my shelf, in my Cheese section!

    Speaking of Kim Newman, he introduced the premiere screening of the restored 'Things To Come' at Sci-Fi London a few weeks ago. I'd dragged along a couple of friends who had never seen it before, not knowing that Kim Newman was going to be there, which was a nice bonus. It was very amusing - he was giving a wonderfully enthusiastic mini-lecture about the film to the assembled geeks, when a group of them started heckling him, calling him a 'bloody idiot' (and worse) for giving away the plot (which was absurd - criticise someone for revealing the plot of a new film, but having a go over spoilers for a seventy-year old film?!?). Anyway, they wouldn't shut up so Newman got fed up, shouted, 'Well, f**k you and good night!' and stormed out of the cinema! Class act. It was all a bit 'When Geeks Attack!'

  7. Post author

    LOL! I've heard about the restored TTC, I'll probably pick up the DVD when I'm over there. Can't blame Newman at all, but I've been a spoiler Nazi myself from time to time, even in relation to 68-year old movies :) Though at least then I wasn't complaining on my own behalf ...

  8. Probably worth mentioning Newman's terrible vampire Elseworld series, the second of which 'The Bloody Red Baron', is about WW1 air aces. Obviously, Der Baron is not all human...

  9. Somebody needs to make this film today. Right now. With anachronistic trapeeze fighters and weirdo alternate history (very alternate) and everything else.

    C'mon, SkyCaptain and the World of Tomorrow got made on a big budget with A-list actors, why can't some low-rent just-out-of-film-school production company throw this together?

    Zeppelin V. Pterodactyls is the best movie title I have ever seen.

  10. Post author

    I totally agree. So many millions of dollars are wasted on rubbish films, why not throw a few at ZvP? This has been one of my most widely-linked posts; I'd love to think that some movie producer has come across it and been inspired!

  11. Until someone makes a full-length feature, here's a mash-up. What would it have looked like if "Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls" had been a cliffhanger serial produced by Republic Pictures in 1936? Includes trapeze fighters and a Flying Wing. (Click on my name to see the video on YouTube.)

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  16. Very interesting. I think I've seen almost every Amicus and Hammer movie (except their Dr.Jeckyll version) and just to imagine this one is fun! I have to admit though that I'm less fond of the lost world/dinosaur movies because of the rather poor effects at the time. I don't mind them in the horror movies but in those I do. On top of that, Hammer's budget would have been really poor so maybe it's a blessing that Zeps vs Dactyls didn't get produced. Maybe a film isn't the answer at all...and instead we go with a book adaption? How about it Brett?

    DT's Flash Drive Blog - The Magic of Memory Sticks & USB Pen Drives

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  20. Jeff Farley

    Though this post is quite old, I thought I would add some information about the proposed film, Zepplin vs Pterodactyls.

    It started out as a project David Allen had initiated titled, Raiders of the Stone Ring. Though Dave had successfully demonstrated his abilities as a stop motion animator and special effects designer, he longed to create a story which would harken back to films such as The Lost World and King Kong. He set about (with Dennis Muren) to shoot a test film to demostrate his idea amd along with script in hand, he set about finding backing, which proved to be tougher than he imagined.
    While he was working on When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth for Jim Danforth, Dave was able to interest Hammer Films in the property, which they retitled and created the art on display to (again) secure funding. Alas, it wasn't to be.
    Eventually, Randy Cook would join Dave and together, they re-wrote the script and gave it the new title, The Primevals, which was picked up by Charles Band and finally shot in Romania and Italy in the summer of 1994, where I was the makeup effects department supervisor.
    Unfortunately, even though the show continued shooting post-production effects, into the early 2000's and the untimely passing of David Allen in 1999, the project ground to a halt and to this day in 2017, the film remains unfinished.

  21. Post author

    Thanks for that very informative comment, Jeff; I certainly didn't know about the back story or the later history of ZvP, which I see now was just one episode in a much longer project, sadly still unrealised. I gather that the Zeppelin was no longer part of The Primevals Even so...

  22. Post author

    Wow! It's the movie that was never made but will not die! Though I'm going to be churlish and say it really would be far better with a Zeppelin and a pterodactyl or two...

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