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COOP discovers a long-lost tale from his past! New Zealand’s sci-fi epic UNDER THE MOUNTAIN is actually a remake (trailer included)!

Posted on July 13th, 2009
Posted on July 13th, 2009


While cruising the Ain’t It Cool News website, I came across the trailer for a new NZ film starring Sam Neill titled “Under the Mountain.”  Supposedly it’s a very famous tale that all Kiwi kids grew up with, but how they heck would I know anything about it?  Probably another generic kiddie fantasy like “The Last Mimzy” or something lame like that, but I figured but I checked it out anyway…  SHOCK!!!  I know this story and it’s pretty freakin’ awesome!

You’ll have to pardon me for having a Harry Knowles-level geek-out right now but this story was long forgotten in my memory. I’m overloading on the nostalgia rush so intensely, I feel like a malnourished kid from the desert who’s just re-discovered chocolate.

My memories of “Under the Mountain”…

I remember very clearly when my family first got cable TV around approximately 1982.  As a kid, I was blown away by the 50 odd channels we got instead of the usual 4 or 5.  This also exposed me to some wacky B-monster movies.  I remember on in particular where some guy dressed up in half-man, half-octopus rubber suit and terrorized a bunch of beach goers in a particularly campy display of poor filmmaking. 

It also exposed me to the (then new) kids tv network known as Nickelodeon.  Back then, Nick was a very different entity.  They showed a lot of programming in the afternoon that catered to an older teen market.  Some of the shows were downright freaky.  Obviously hurting for content, they imported a lot of programs from other English-speaking countries like Canada (“You Can’t do that on TV!”), England, Australia, etc.  One in particular called “The Third Eye” kinda rattled my fragile little cage of a sheltered existence.  It featured supernatural series or mini-series from these foreign countries.  I remember the names of the shows quite clearly:  “Into the Labyrinth, ” “Children of the Stones,” “The Haunting of Cassie Palmer,” “The Witches and the Grinnygog,” and…  yes, “Under the Mountain.” 

All of these series creeped me out but none more than “Under the Mountain,” the only sci-fi/horror show of the group. 

The story revolves around twin teens named Theo and Rachel who reconnect with a mysterious, old friend while visiting relatives in Auckland.  Mr. Jones (Sam Neill) had once saved the two when they were young and warns them away from the creepy “Wilberforce Clan,” a family of ultra-scary freaks who seem to be behind an unusual string of earthquakes linked to the volcanoes that surround the city.  Turns out the Wilberforces are alien invaders and Mr. Jones is a mystical being who reveals to the twins their hidden powers that will allow them to defeat the Wilberforces and save the Earth. 

Doesn’t sound too weird for kids.  Kinda like the “Witch Mountain” series right?  Well look at this…

Don’t see horrific stuff like that on Nickelodeon anymore now, do we? It seems corny these days, but that was pretty scary stuff for a 6 year-old to see back then.

Now “Under the Mountain” has received an update.  I see some striking  visual similarities between the original and this new adaptation of the novel by Maurice Gee.  Looks like they retained the creepy horror element as well!  Knowing how dark and weird this story gets, I’m 100% jazzed about this film and I’m delighted at the surprise of the story’s re-emergence. 

If you haven’t seen any of the original, I doubt you’ll reach my level of enthusiasm.  Rest assured, its release is highly anticipated in NZ and Australia.  Sam Neill’s involvement is a testament to how beloved the story is in that neck of the woods. 

Enough talk, “Under the Mountain” trailer begins now (with a word from Mr. Neill/Jones himself…).  It’s not embeddable yet, so click the link to watch. 

Under the Mountain trailer!

Fantastic!  Can’t wait to see more.

-Coop

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