JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
JOURNEY TO MIDDLE EARTH
Their version of Jules Vernes Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) was released two weeks before Walden Medias high-profile theatrically released Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) with Brendan Fraser. (Bizarrely enough, in England, The Asylums film was retitled Journey to Middle Earth and passed off as a copy of the Lord of the Rings films). Around the same time, there was also a third version of the Jules Verne story with the tv-mini-series Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) starring Ricky Schroeder and Peter Fonda. The Jules Verne book had been adapted to the screen a number of other times before with Segundo de Chomons lost silent Journey to the Center of the Earth (1908); most famously as the lavish 20th Century Fox production Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) with James Mason and Pat Boone; Juan Piquer Simons cheap The Fabulous Adventure at the Center of the Earth (1977); Golan-Globuss Journey to the Center of the Earth (1988), a near-incoherent modern updating; Journey to the Center of the Earth (1993), an unsold tv pilot that had little to do with Jules Verne but tried to turn the underground venue as a realm for adventure in a Star Trek-like scenario; and the Hallmark tv mini-series Journey to the Center of the Earth (1999) starring Treat Williams.
The Asylum have a habit of treating the source material extremely liberally when it comes to their adaptations such as their versions of The 7 Adventures of Sinbad (2010) and 3 Musketeers set in the present day or their Jack the Giant Killer that doesnt feature any giants. Journey to the Center of the Earth has a considerable WTF component to it when you sit down to watch it after having read the Jules Verne book and seen the various other film versions. Almost all of these other versions take place in the 19th Century (although some of the films have updated the story to the present-day) and feature a group of explorers venturing into a volcano that leads down into a warren of darkened caves. Many of the films have peppered this up with encounters with dinosaurs, primitives and lost cities (which are not there in the book). However, the essentials of a journey through a series of underground caves remains in every version.
Most of the versions of the story start off with the discovery of a plumb bob that leads the way to a volcanic caldera that houses the entrance to the caves. When it comes The Asylums Journey to the Center of the Earth by contrast, we get a US military research team headed by Greg Evigan who is planning an experiment to teleport a group of hot babe soldiers to Germany. Naturally, this goes wrong and the soldiers are teleported to the centre of the Earth where they are pursued by dinosaurs and giant spiders. If this were not WTF enough, you are straining trying to get your head around the fact that the centre of the Earth here is no longer a set of caves but represented by wide open and sunlit outdoors (where The Asylum went to shoot in Belize). You think, okay well they have cut costs by eliminating the caves and shooting outdoors, which sort of works with a vast stretch of the imagination but if they are underground where the heck is all the sunlight coming from? Certainly, there is some precedent for the idea of the centre of the Earth having an internal sun in Edgar Rice Burroughs Centre of the Earth work At the Earths Core (1914) filmed as At the Earths Core (1976), which was ironically shot on a soundstage and the sun at the earths core eliminated. The Asylum seem to have taken more than a few leaves from Burroughss book there is also the introduction of a drilling mole (the means whereby the explorers reached the Centre of the Earth in both books) that is quickly pressed into operation to rescue the girls.
The girls fail in any way to look like convincing soldiers they seem more like a group of self-absorbed models that someone has abandoned in the wilderness. Clearly, nobody involved in the production has taken the time to coach any of them in basic military training as they fail to hold their guns or move in any convincing soldierly way. For that matter, the scientific experiment they take part in lacks any believability. Who sends a group of live subjects through a teleport system without having tested it first with at least some inanimate or animal subject? Even so, why would six girls teleport to a military base in Germany heavily armed, with survival gear and live ammunition they are taking part in a scientific experiment not beaming into a military zone? The digital effects of the various dinosaurs and giant spiders they encounter are at least to a competent level, more so than most that turn up from The Asylums in-house team, although are sparingly used.
There are only two recognisable names in the cast. The hero of the show is played (not too seriously) by Greg Evigan, mostly a tv actor in shows like B.J. and the Bear (1978-81) and occasionally forgettable films like Stripped to Kill (1987) and Deepstar Six (1989). (His daughter Vanessa Lee Evigan also plays one of the soldiers). The other is Dedee Pfeiffer, the younger sister of Michelle who has had a not very successful career mostly playing sporadic bit parts in 80s films like Vamp (1986) and The Horror Show (1989). Both have appeared in a number of The Asylums other films and spark up one of those comedic relationships that mostly consists of them trading flip lines as they head to the centre of the earth.
Director Scott Wheeler is a visual effects supervisor for The Asylum and subsequently went onto make Transmorphers: Fall of Man (2009), Milf (2010), Celebrity Sex Tape (2012) and Martian Land (2015) for them and Avalanche Sharks (2013), Sink Hole (2013) and Attack of the Killer Donuts (2016) for other companies. His co-director Davey Jones has yet to make another film.