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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
At the Earth's Core (1976)

At the Earth's Core (1976)

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Released 2-Aug-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1976
Running Time 86:50
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kevin Connor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Peter Cushing
Doug McClure
Caroline Munro
Cy Grant
Godfrey James
Sean Lynch
Bobby Parr
Michael Crane
Keith Barron
Anthony Verner
Helen Gill
Andee Cromarty
Robert Gillespie
Case ?
RPI $9.95 Music Michael Vickers

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    British inventor Doctor Perry (Peter Cushing) and American engineer David Innes (Doug McClure) have built a giant cylindrical mole which they call "The Mole", with the intention of using it to drill deep into the Earth's surface. On a test run in the Welsh hills, The Mole gets out of control and ends up within the Earth's core. There they find strange vegetation, stranger animals and even English-speaking primitives in the land of Pellucidar. The land is ruled over by the Mahars, who take our adventurers captive to work as slaves in their city. The Mahars look like giant grey budgerigars but have telepathic and mesmeric powers.

    Of course, you can't keep a good hero down, and pretty soon David is leading the tribes in a revolt against their primeval budgie masters. He also finds time to romance Dia (Caroline Munro).

    This film is from Amicus, a British company that produced films not unlike those of Hammer, and was co-produced with American International Pictures. I'm not sure who the audience was in 1976, but nowadays this would be recommended for children and undemanding adults. It seems to be an amalgam of She, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Lost World (the Conan Doyle one), Planet of the Apes, Doctor Who and The Time Machine, but is in fact based on a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs first published in 1922.

    While the production values are quite reasonable and there are some okay special effects (well, maybe not the exploding lizard), the script is fairly banal, bordering on parody: "You can't mesmerise me, I'm an Englishman!". The direction and editing are clunky and the acting is uniformly poor. Even the normally reliable but now haggard-looking Peter Cushing goes over the top with his characterisation of Doctor Perry. Caroline Munro's costumes are designed to focus the eye on her cleavage, which helps distract the viewer from her lack of acting ability.

    This is not a particularly good film, though I can't say I was bored by it and children may find it quite entertaining. There is some violence and some of the creatures may be frightening to younger ones. Older male viewers may appreciate Caroline Munro's costumes, or lack thereof.

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Transfer Quality


    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. I am not sure if this was the original aspect ratio, but based on a comparison with the Region 1 release I believe it may be so.

    The film gets a transfer that is as good as you could expect for a low budget release of a minor film. The video is sharp enough that there is a good level of detail, though the detail is reduced by the amount of ambient smoke visible throughout the film, and by many of the scenes being shot in low light levels. Shadow detail is average, or slightly below.

    Colour is satisfactory. There are no finely rendered colours on display, but the palette is acceptable for a film of this vintage. Almost the entire film is set in the world below the Earth's crust, which is illuminated by a pale purplish light, so flesh tones are necessarily not realistic. Black levels are below average, with some blacks seeming blue or purple and there is some low level noise visible.

    Given the amount of smoke there is some posterisation visible, which also spreads to some of the characters' faces. There is some telecine wobble present throughout most of the film, which is usually not noticeable, but is quite severe during the opening credits. Otherwise I did not notice any significant film to video artefacts. There are few film artefacts visible, just some occasional white specks and flecks.

    The film is presented on a single layer disc with no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, which reflects the original version of the film.

    The audio track is a little thin and flat sounding, but apart from that there are no real problems with the audio transfer. Dialogue is clear and distinct, so I gathered every nuance of the silly script. This is a perfectly acceptable audio transfer given the source material.

    The music score is by Michael Vickers. Apart from some orchestral music under the opening credits, the rest of the score seems to be electronic, and while it does not stand out musically, it contributes to the eerie feel of the world below the Earth's surface.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Not a single extra has been provided.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release differs only by the inclusion of an American release trailer and English, French and Spanish subtitles, not enough in my opinion to sway the potential purchaser either way. However, the aspect ratio is 1.85:1. Judging by screen caps I have seen of the Region 1, it appears to be cropped or matted to 1.85:1, which would make the Region 4 the release of choice.


    A film that may appeal to kids or fans of the author.

    The video and audio quality are pretty good considering.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Friday, August 13, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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