Scottish-born director, screenwriter and old-school FX monster obsessive Peter A. Montgomery is nothing if not determined. His latest project — his most ambitious yet — is a feature film called Dark Earth that offers up monsters, period-set science fiction/fantasy adventure and interplanetary wonder in abundance. Involved in its production is talent from Britain, the US and Australia, and a who’s who list of professional FX designers with a background in Harryhausen-style stop-motion animation and puppetry.
This is grand SF adventure of the kind represented by such classics as The Land That Time Forgot (1975), At the Earth’s Core (1976), The People That Time Forgot (1977) and Warlords of Atlantis (1978), which is rather gratifying as the director of those four films, Kevin Connor, happens to be an avid supporter of Montgomery’s project. Also supporting it via the creation and animation of an array of monstrous creatures and lots of monster action is a list of well-known industry veterans:
- Norman Yeend (The Time Guardian, $9.99, Ultraman: Towards the Future)
- Richard Kent Burton (Coraline, James and the Giant Peach, The Blob (1988), Ed Wood, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, Robot Chicken, Screamers, Freaked)
- Ron Cole (Sinbad: the Fifth Voyage, Ghostbusters II, Monsters (TV series), Legend of the Golden Fishcake)
- Nick Hilligoss (Legend of the Golden Fishcake)
- Steve Koch (Jumanji, The X Files Movie, Men in Black II, Starship Troopers, TRON Legacy, Men in Black III, Hellboy: The Golden Army, Godzilla (2014), The Thing (2011), Spider-Man (2002), Beetlejuice, Evoliution, The Mist, and many more).
- Lionel Ivan Orozco (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers, The Lost World: Jurassic Park)
- Jim Aupperle (as Advisor) (Planet of Dinosaurs, After Earth, Ghostbusters, Hellboy, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Tremors II: Aftershocks, Robocop 3, John Carpenter’s The Thing, to name but a few, seriously — check here)
- John Dods (as Special Consultant) (Ghostbusters II, Poltergeist II, Boomerang, Monsters (TV series), The Deadly Spawn, Spookies, and many more)
That is one impressive team, I think you’ll agree!
Dark Earth will be the first movie in this genre for several decades to be made with traditional craftsmen but brought up-to-date using the best practical FX on offer today. We’re using Henson-esque puppets to represent the main aliens — cable-operated creations — and state-of-the-art stopmotion so authentic in its end result it will be like nothing you’ve seen before. The test shots from Tippett Studio I managed to get cleared to test the process on were received well with huge enthusiasm. Dark Earth is the film that many aficionados have been waiting for for decades. I’m making the kind of movie I myself have wanted to see for years. It’s no throw-away, here-today-gone-tomorrow effort like so many big budget films, but a project made with real passion by real artists, who want to give you something that’s really lacking in modern CGI-dominated cinema. It’s in the best hands it can be in, made by guys that work on big motion pictures. Put basically, it’s in the hands of artists. (Source)
So, what is this film about? First off, check out this rough test trailer:
And here’s a synopsis of the film:
Dark Earth is a period-set (Edwardian era) fantasy film. Time travellers create a rocket ship. On a test outing they manage to shoot off into space and find a world they mistake for home located several million light years from Earth.
After a very hard landing, the crew of the ship find themselves on an alien world, populated by monstrous denizens and creatures from prehistoric times, long extinct back home on Earth. Dark Earth is a tour de force of exciting conflicts, monsters and scientific marvels, and features an alien race known as the Horidens, who become the main obstacle preventing our heroic explorers of time and space from escaping the Dark Earth and returning home ….
Undead Backbrain has written about Peter A. Montgomery and his projects before, in particular a remarkable trilogy of SF/fantasy films under the title Bizarre Life Institute. This was an enormous project, done over many years without significant resources. If you want to get some idea of what drives Montgomery and where he comes from check out the two-part article Bizarre Life Institute: The Trilogy — Part 1 and Part 2 in the Backbrain’s archives.
This latest project looks like it has huge potential, but Montgomery and his amazing team need some help. Yes, you guessed it. Financing. To this end, like many other “outliers” in the film industry, Montgomery and the production studio, RIGAR UK, have set up a crowdfunding campaign on INDIEGOGO to ensure the sets constructed, such as the time machine interior and miniatures, wardrobe, puppets, and of course the stopmotion and compositing work, are all top of the line. They have also vowed to go to 4K resolution 35mm film quality with the stated budget, and that if they raise over the amount they would also add an original orchestral score, not a digital one.
Montgomery added: “I know it’s not much when you think of what we’re proposing to create, but believe me, the team ready to go can pull off something spectacular with that budget, though small in today’s world of film. Even if we don’t reach the full amount, you can be assured of a beautifully presented piece of cinema made with love for the craft / genre, and a good story.”
The goal is ambitious, but every little bit helps. If what is written above sounds like something worthwhile (and it certainly does to the Backbrain), at least pledge the small amount needed to get yourself a DVD/Blu-ray copy of the final film — think of it as a pre-order. But there are also lots of other perks.
Meanwhile, check out the team’s introductory campaign video and read about the actors and more about the state-of-play.
Here is the link to the campaign.