Journey to the Center of the Earth Image

Journey to the Center of the Earth

By Bradley Gibson | December 4, 2020

This realm is occupied by descendants of the ancient Atlanteans, as in Atlantis, the city that sank beneath the waves. It apparently sank under the ocean floor as well and wound up, well, check the film title. The final jolt comes from the aesthetic of the Atlanteans, which looks like the costumes, sets, and props from every bad “futuristic” ’80s music video were pulled out of a landfill and crammed into a warehouse filled with stage fog. Blue Oyster Cult has one video, in particular, that comes to mind, filled with Mad Max cosplay, for their song Dancin’ in the Ruins, and that look is precisely where we land in the underground world in this film.

The whole affair takes a hard left turn when the surface adventurers meet the Atlanteans. The warehouse at the center of the earth is a melange of proto-steampunk affectation and light fetish scenes. Model and actress Kathy Ireland has a very brief appearance reprising her role from the first film as Wanda Saknussemm. Our intrepid Scooby gang discovers there’s a plan afoot by the Atlanteans to rise up and take over the surface world and cue the music. Viewers will be left gasping for air and in danger of permanent psychic damage from subjecting themselves to this carnival-ride, disaster of a film. Honestly, it is a notable accomplishment to achieve a level of impact that most movies can’t claim. It’s bad. Whether it’s “so-bad-it’s-good” is down to the viewer’s tolerance/ affinity for random ’80s weirdness.

“Viewers will be left gasping for air and in danger of permanent psychic damage…”

The actors in this film never really surfaced (sorry, not sorry) anywhere else after this. Ilan Mitchell-Smith is best known for playing Wyatt in Weird Science, but even in that movie, he was upstaged by Bill Paxton as his hilariously vicious older brother Chet. Mercifully, Mitchell-Smith concluded that acting wasn’t going to be his life work, and now he is an academic focused on Medieval Studies in Long Beach.

The first film in the series, Alien from L.A., achieved secondary fame as a popular episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and there’s a strong argument to be made that this production of Journey to the Center of the Earth could add to that experience and you’d have an excellent double-feature on MST3K.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1989)

Directed: Rusty Lemorande, Albert Pyun

Written: Debra Ricci, Sandra Berg, Albert Pyun, Rusty Lemorande

Starring: Nicola Cowper, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Paul Carafotes, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

Journey to the Center of the Earth Image

"…monsters that look like rejected...prototypes from the Jim Henson workshop."

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