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Lost Continent


Title: Lost Continent
Year Of Release: 1951
Running Time: 84 minutes
DVD Released By: Image Entertainment
Directed By: Samuel Newfield
Writing Credits: Richard H. Landau (screenplay), Carroll Young (story)

Starring: Cesar Romero, Hillary Brooke, Chick Chandler, John Hoyt, Sid Melton, Whit Bissell, Hugh Beaumont

Taglines:
1. Monsters in a land that time forgot!
2. ZOOM...at atomic-powered speed to a NEW land of fantastic adventure!
3. Modern Man Against Prehistoric Monster!
4. Thrills of the atomic-powered future! Adventures of the prehistoric past!
5. The Incredible Speed of Atomic Power!
6. The Fantastic Thrills of the Prehistoric past!
7. A THOUSAND TERRIFYING THRILLS!
8. Rocket 180,000,000 Years Into The Unknown!

Alternate Titles:
None Found

Review Date: 11.15.20

Shadow's Title: "Lost Continence"

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Characters
Michael Rostov – A Russian ex-patriot who lost faith in his country, he now designs rockets for ‘Murica! Too bad the rocket they were testing goes bonkers and crashes somewhere in the south pacific. The race is on to recover the rocket before the enemies of ‘Murica get their grubby little commie pinko hands on it…probably led by his cousin Yuri.
Major Joe Nolan – This poor guy was about to seal the deal with a hot blonde when orders came in for him to lead the recovery mission for Rostov’s rocket. He dutifully follows his orders, even though it means risking his ass on more than one occasion. He succeeds, but I’m sure all that tobacco he smoked is going to kick his ass in the long run.
Lt. Danny Wilson – Now this guy really got a bum deal. He was seconds away from a 30-day leave, which I’m sure would have been filled with an abundance of booze and smokes and hookers and parties, but his good pal Nolan requested he be his co-pilot on the recovery mission. Wilson spends the rest of the movie looking annoyed that he’s not banging some chick.
Sgt. Willie Tatlow – This fool, who looks like the missing link between ape and man, got drafted into the air force. He does love the maintenance and mechanical work he performs on the planes, but he really hates flying. In fact, he hates it so much, he wears a parachute constantly, even when on solid ground. That’s kind of like wearing a life preserver while trekking through the desert.
Robert Phillips – It’s Ward Cleaver! Actually, this guy was one of the scientists who worked on Rostov’s rocket project. He accompanies Rostov on the mission to recover the rocket and is the one in charge of the groups Geiger counter, which I suppose is like being in charge of the groups watch or some other basic tool. I guess it made him feel important.
Stanley Briggs – Another scientist that goes on the recovery mission. This guy should have stayed at home. First, he’s the only one banged up in the plane crash, then he has trouble keeping up with the others, being so completely out of shape. He seals his doom when looking at pictures of his kids and talks about seeing them when he gets home. He might as well of just eaten a bullet at that point and gotten it over.
Marla Stevens – This is the hot number that Major Nolan was busy wining and dining when he got whisked away for the recovery mission. Apparently, she is just one name in his little black book full of them, but she certainly seemed eager to hear about his emergency landing methods. Hopefully, Nolan was able to get back to her before she moved on to a Lt. Colonel.
The Native Girl – Her people lived on the south pacific island where the rocket crashes. The arrival of the rocket scares everyone else away and only she and her younger brother remained when Nolan’s group arrived. She pointed them in the direction to go to find it and then hopefully she and her sibling got out of dodge, because there wasn’t much left of the island at the end of the movie.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

Only God could lose a continent. Or maybe Slartibartfast. Without wasting any time, the title appears and the credits roll up the screen, superimposed over an artist’s rendering of a rocky canyon. The image looks more like another planet than any earthly ravine. I guess you gotta work with what you can get, and the producers dug this up out of some old vault of artwork. The music blares and when it finally fades away, we transition into a shot of the New Mexico desert. That quickly changes to a shot of U.S. government installation. A sign reads U.S. Government Proving Grounds White Sands N.M. What are they trying to prove? That they can waste taxpayer’s money on frivolous projects that will ultimately prove worthless? Yeah, we knew that already. We get a still shot of a V2 rocket on a launch pad and then we move indoors to some kind of control bunker.

The room is filled with guys in top brass military uniforms and government suits. A few flunkies sit at tables fiddling with HAM radios and other scientific instrumentation. It looks like something important is taking place. Or about to, at least. Indeed, stock footage of a V2 rocket launch is hauled out. I swear, that footage was used in so many cheap flicks, I’m beginning to lose track of them all. Off the top of my head I can think of at least five movies that used it and I know there are more. We then get a shot of all the scientists, military officers and G-men as they track the rocket’s progress across a really cheap-looking radar screen. Seriously, you can fund a project to construct and launch rockets, but you can’t toss in a few extra bucks for a decent tracking system? Michael Rostov, Robert Phillips and Stanley Briggs are part of the team that has built this rocket, with Rostov being the head cheese. As they monitor things, Briggs states that the rocket is right on course. On a walled map, he places pins in line to denote the rocket’s path. We see the first pin right about where the U.S. southwest would be, with several more pins showing movement generally south west towards Hawaii. Everything is running smoothly so far.

After more stock footage, one of the technicians says the rocket is moving out of range. They transfer tracking duties to another military outpost designated “Top of the World.” With a name like that, you’d think that they would be up at the north pole, but if so, how could they track an object moving towards the south pacific? Maybe they’re located in Hawaii, but how would that be considered “top of the world?” Whatever the case may be, this new location tracks the rocket and says it is heading due west and out to sea. WTF? Did the rocket turn while in flight? According to Briggs’ trail of pins, it was moving more south west and was already out over the Pacific Ocean. Maybe Briggs is just an idiot and doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Anyway, we see a stock footage naval ship, which is the next tracking station along the rocket’s path, designated “Neptune.” They radio to the launch site – designated “Desert Station” – and report that the rocket is approaching the point where it is supposed to turn back. I’ll give you one guess as to what happens. No, Godzilla doesn’t jump from the water to grab it. Instead the rocket doesn’t reverse and keeps on going, vanishing over the horizon. It seems that they don’t have a fourth tracking station available to pinpoint exactly where it ended up. Briggs circles an area in the South Pacific where three more hours of travel will deposit it. Rostov tells the big shots that they have to recover the rocket to learn why it did not turn back. One of the suits makes a grand speech about how the U.S. has led the way, blah, blah, blah. In the end he thinks it important they recover the rocket before anyone else (the Russians!) does and makes a call to the President to get the okay to launch a recovery mission. If only the government acted so fast under other circumstances, say…during a pandemic.

Elsewhere, pilot Major Joe Nolan is having drinks with a hot blonde named Marla, at her place. Listening to their pain inducing conversation, we get the picture that Nolan has been out with this gal before, but has yet to seal the deal. He gets up from their fireside chat to change the record and then invites her to dance. As they sway to the music, he performs that subtle romantic move that men throughout history have used to woo a woman: he smashes his lips against hers. As they kiss, we get the idea that this may very well be the occasion that Nolan gets to park his plane in her hangar. Sadly for him, someone chooses this moment to hit the door buzzer and it turns out to be the MP here to inform him that he is to report back to the base at once, where a plane will be waiting for him. Marla will have to wait. As they leave, Nolan asks the MP Sergeant how he managed to locate him at 2:30 in the morning. It seems Nolan left his little black book in his quarters and the Sergeant used that to find him, adding that Nolan is an “awfully tough man to follow.” Just how many names are in that little black book?

We move on to enlisted Sergeant Willie Tatlow, who as a more mechanically inclined airman, is fiddling around in the cockpit of a parked plane, fixing something and talking to the aircraft like it was a woman. A different MP Sergeant than the one who collected Nolan now appears behind him and informs him that the CO wants to see him. Willie mumbles something about the draft board before accompanying him, so we learn that it wasn’t his bright idea to join the military. After that we see Lt. Danny Wilson who is hanging up his uniform and dressed in civilian attire, is about to embark on a thirty day leave…or so he thinks. Looking over the pictures of ladies he knows, he notes that one got married the previous month and then selects another to take with him. I guess he’s gonna look her up, or at least he was planning on it until another MP comes looking for him to inform him to report to the CO right away. There goes leave!

“The captain says we only have enough fuel to circle the nude beach three more times.”Next we get stock footage of an old C-47 lifting off. Piloting are Nolan and Wilson, who after quick complaints on what they are missing out on, reminisce about their time during the war, stuck on an island for two years. In the back compartment are scientists Rostov, Phillips and Briggs along with Willie Tatlow who, because his character is such a goofball, will be referred to by first name in this review while all others will be referred to by surname. Willie makes coffee for everyone, with only Rostov not partaking. The odd thing is, when offering coffee to Rostov, Willie only had two cups left. He then gave those two cups to Nolan and Wilson in the cockpit. What would he have done had Rostov taken one of those cups? Amazingly enough, if you look closely, you can see actual liquid in those cups. Too often in scenes like this, the cups are empty and the actor just fakes taking a sip, but here it was the real deal.

Wilson takes over flying while Nolan heads into the rear to check on their VIP scientist passengers. He chats with Rostov briefly and we learn nothing. It’s all just filler. After a while they descend and land at some U.S. base to refuel. This is done through stock footage of course, and the planes shown landing and lifting off again don’t even match. I guess the filmmakers back in those days believed the film would never be seen again after the theatrical run and didn’t worry about things being overly scrutinized like what I’m doing. In 1951 Television was in its infancy and there was no way for them to foresee the rise of home video in the 80’s which would lead to the VHS boom, the DVD boom and the streaming boom. That would have been pure science fiction back then.

After a while they reach the area where the Neptune tracking station lost contact with the rocket. Everyone begins to scan the ocean for a dye mark, which would indicate where the rocket splashed down. Time passes and they enter the area where the rocket would have run out of fuel. They see nothing. Off to their left is an island, so Nolan swings the plane in that direction so they can have a closer look. About now Willie notices that his watch has stopped working. Phillips’ Geiger counter starts reacting to something and as all the scientists gawk at that, the plane starts bouncing around. Nolan says that some sort of energy disturbance has knocked out all the plane’s systems and they are losing altitude. He tells everyone to strap in while he tries to reach the island they just spotted. Hey, isn’t this exactly how Lost began? As the plane dives toward the ground at an angle so extreme you’d think Nolan would never be able to level off, we see Phillips and Briggs on one side of the compartment, the plane tilted down to their left. Since the cockpit was to their left, this shows the plane making a nosedive. Then when we see Rostov, who is sitting opposite them, we see him leaning in the same direction, which would imply that the vehicle is plunging tail first. That doesn’t make a lot of sense.

So the plane crash lands in the jungles on the island. Aside from a few bumps and scrapes (mostly on Briggs), everyone is in good condition. Nolan mentions the interference that brought the plane down and Phillips remembers how his Geiger counter registered a source of radiation. He checks it again and while the gadget is working, there are no current readings. Willie notices that his watch has begun working again. They all pile out of the plane to look around. Things seem peaceful, but Nolan’s war time experience has taught him that on an island like this, there could be hidden dangers such as headhunters or cannibals or even a Temptation Island film crew lurking about, all waiting to exploit their presence. Willie suggests repairing the radio and calling for help, but Nolan says they are under strict orders to maintain radio silence until they recover Rostov’s lost rocket. To that end, they break out their guns and equipment and prepare to explore the island.

They stomp through the jungle for a while and come upon an abandoned village. Well, a mostly abandoned village, as there are two people left: a young native woman and her even younger brother. She speaks English, having learned it in a missionary school on a nearby island. All the red-blooded males are no doubt thinking of another missionary instruction they would like to introduce to her. It turns out all of the other villagers recently fled this island for the safety of that other one after a new visitor dropped by, and no it wasn’t Jeff Probst. She calls it a “firebird” that lit up the sky and the others realize that what she witnessed was not a car from Pontiac or angry monster, but the rocket which they are seeking. They ask where it landed and she tells them that it came to rest atop the mountain where the gods dwell. This caused an earthquake which in turn injured her father. She and her brother stayed with him while the others fled, but now, poor old daddy is dead.

At their request, she shows them the way to the sacred mountain, though she and her brother refuse to accompany them any farther. Nolan promises that they will take the “firebird” and its bad magic away and her people could then return to their homes. Right…I would not be making any promises that you can’t keep, pal. The sacred mountain turns out to be quite tall, its top hidden above the clouds. The young girl and her brother flee, frightened to be that close, claiming no one ever comes back from the mountain. The group presses on until they reach the base of the mountain. With no other alternative, they begin their ascent.

So the climbing begins and if any of you have seen the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of this film, then you know that this part of the movie got roasted mercilessly and for good reason. This segment goes on FOREVER! What I find to be impressive is how they took the same set and shot it from every angle conceivable in order to make it appear as if these bozos were continuously climbing up, up and up. At one point, Nolan uses a rope to lasso a section of rock and then hoists himself up to it. He then turns and helps the others up, one by one. Watch in the background as he yanks Willie (who is carrying a literal shit ton of gear, including a parachute for some ridiculous reason) up by the seat of his pants. You can see actor Hugh Beaumont doing his best to hide his laugh by pretending to be exhausted.

Actor Hugh Beaumont trying his best not to crack up.“I don’t get it. According to these readings, SOMETHING should have happened in this film by now.” After a quick break to rest and smoke, during which Phillips registers a slight reading on his Geiger counter, the group sets off again. More climbing and skirting long narrow ledges now follows. Nolan, in the lead, turns a corner and gets hit in the face with a huge blast of gas fumes from an opening in the rock face. He nearly falls to his death before recovering. Ahead they see the bones of an earlier explorer who made it this far and no further. Rostov notes how the gas seems to be evidence of significant volcanic activity on the island. They turn back to find another way up and Rostov, seeing how utterly worn out Briggs looks, asks him if he shouldn’t stay behind. Briggs says not to worry about him. Nolan watches the exchange with interest.

Night falls and the group takes shelter on a wide ledge with a rock overhang. They have a fire burning, which begs the question, just what in hell are they burning? I have not seen so much as a single bush or twig on their climb, so unless they’re burning Rostov’s notes or maps, I don’t see how that fire could last very long. Thunder and lightning split the night air, bringing with it the threat of rain. Nolan asks to see the photo Briggs is looking at and it turns out to be his two kids. Nolan tells him that he’ll have quite the story to tell them when he gets back. You fool! Never under any circumstances talk about future plans in a movie like this! You just doomed that guy and doomed him really good. He is so screwed now. The group talks about marriage for a bit, Nolan and Wilson being committed bachelors. As the others talk, Rostov looks up and sees a giant lizard on a rock. Well, it was a regular lizard but I suppose the sudden music cue was meant to imply it was quite large. He calls out, but when the others get up to look, the beast is gone. This is when it starts to rain, so everyone huddles up the best they can at the back of the ledge. Nolan asks Rostov what he saw and the scientist tells him it was a monster that he “had never seen before.” This implies that he has seen monsters in other places, at different times, probably on reruns of Star Search.

Day comes and the climbing begins anew with Nolan in the lead, followed by Wilson, Phillips, Willie, Rostov and then Briggs, who is obviously nearing his physical limits. After what seems like about six hours, during which I went off to use the restroom, then perused the newspaper and had lunch followed by a quick nap, everyone continues to climb, with Rostov and Briggs falling behind. They’re further down the mountain and Briggs is having trouble. Rostov is laid out flat on a small ledge, leaning down and pulling at Briggs, who can’t seem to pull himself up any further. He loses his grip on the rock face and only his hand grasped by Rostov keeps him from falling. Alas, Rostov can’t maintain his grip and Briggs doesn’t seem too interested in trying to reach out and save his own ass, so he slips and falls. An overhead view shows him plunge into the mists below and vanish with a scream. Oddly enough, in the same shot we see Rostov laid out on the ground and then he just vanishes, too in some sloppy editing. The others return, but it’s too late. See! I told you that making plans for the guy only ended up dooming him! Fade out.

Fade in and they are still climbing. At one point they are forced to make a precarious jump from one ledge to another in order to continue, but no one else plunges to their death. Pity. They keep climbing and Nolan finally reaches the top and what’s this…the movie is suddenly tinted green. Yes, in some hair-brained scheme to lure viewers to the theater, all the scenes taking place atop the mountain AKA the “Lost Continent” are tinted green. What does the green represent? I dunno. Your guess is as good as mine. I suppose it could be for the dense prehistoric jungle that they find atop the mountain. Perhaps it could represent the money the filmmakers thought they were going to make. It could just easily represent that sick feeling in your gut that will soon erupt in a plume of green colored vomit because this film is so dreadful. Anyway, the group gazes about at their new surroundings and realize that the plants are of a type not seen in millions of years. The entire mountain top is a lost continent of ancient plants. I wonder what smoking primeval pot would be like.

While Rostov, Phillips and Willie use the Geiger counter to get a fix on the rocket, Nolan and Wilson take a moment to have a smoke. Nolan confides in Wilson his doubts about Rostov, suggesting that maybe the scientist let Briggs fall. Now there are only two people on earth that know how the rocket works and if anything happened to Phillips, it leaves only Rostov, who could easily sell his secrets to foreign powers. Nolan even suggests that Rostov meant for the rocket to go off course. Before he can get any deeper in his theory on how Rostov is responsible for all the ills of mankind, the others get a reading on a source of radioactivity nearby. One that is too strong to be the rocket. Rostov thinks it may be a uranium deposit. Phillips thinks the uranium’s radioactivity is what caused the systems failure on the plane. Indeed, Willie’s watch has crapped out on him once more, backing up this theory.

The gang presses on through this new jungle. After stumbling along and trading jibber jabber with one another, they stop for a meal break, eating from cans. As they eat, Wilson notices some odd tracks in the soil from some unidentifiable animal. Phillips claims to have seen tracks like this before …in a museum. He identifies them as Brontosaurus tracks. Nolan thinks it’s all bullshit, but Phillips says the tracks are no more than an hour old. Nolan tells everyone to get their packs so they can press onward. What about lunch?!! It looked like they’d only taken a couple of bites before Wilson saw the tracks. Don’t they get to finish their canned slop?

“Raar! I’m a Monsta!”They press on, stopping briefly so Phillips can get another fix on the radiation with his Geiger counter as well as for Willie to act like a chickenshit in regards to the Brontosaurus tracks. Not long after when stopping for a breather, Willie spots an actual brontosaurus not far away. Yeah, it’s stop motion, but it ain’t got nothing on Harryhausen’s stuff. This thing moves all stiff, like it’s got a colossal turd stuck half in and half out. Then gang all stare wide-eyed at the creature in disbelief. The beast finally notices them and charges. They scatter into the jungle, except for Phillips, who trips and falls after retrieving his Geiger counter and is forced to climb a tree. The brontosaurus runs to the tree, pushes on it repeatedly and knocks it over. Nolan and Wilson drive the monster off with their rifles, while the others collect Phillips, who is shaken but otherwise okay.

Another night comes and the gang makes camp with another fire. At least this time there is plenty of things nearby to burn. Willie caresses the parachute he’s been wearing throughout the entire film and talks to it like it was his girlfriend. Wilson continues to look annoyed by the fact that he’s in this predicament rather than in some hot chick’s bed. Phillips talks about the life forms on this plateau and how they should be extinct. Nolan just smokes and stares off into the night. Rostov talks to him briefly about the possibilities of all the uranium under their feet.

Morning arrives and Nolan is awakened by the sounds of a Kookaburra, which is the go to sound effect filmmakers always use when in a jungle setting, despite the fact that the bird is only native to Australia and doesn’t live in places like Africa or South America like movies would lead you to believe. Given how the island that the characters are currently on can’t be too far from Australia, going by the map we saw early in the film, and I will let this one slide. Anyway, Nolan looks around and sees that Rostov and Phillips are missing. He wakes Wilson and Willie, the latter the one who was supposed to be on watch, and they hurry after the others. After searching through a rocky, barren area, they spot the other two. Phillips is on the ground with Rostov bent over him. Nolan rushes over, thinking that Rostov is trying to hurt the other scientist, but he explains that Phillips got his foot wedged in the rocks and fell. When Nolan asks them why they left camp alone, Rostov tells him to keep his voice down and points. Not far away walking through some trees is a Triceratops. Everyone scatters and takes cover, except for Phillips, who is writhing around in pain. Nolan covers his mouth with his hand to keep the other guy from making a loud sound and thus attracting the nearby dinosaur.

Just when they think the beast is about to charge them it runs in a different direction and picks a fight with a second triceratops. As the two dinosaurs fight, the group struggles to free Phillips’ foot. They get him loose and carry him away. Not long after that, one triceratops wins the fight by skewering the other with its horns. Phillips manages to walk off the injury to his leg and explains that he woke up early and took the chance to go get some photos of the area. Rostov had only been trying to help him. As the group walks on, Nolan and Rostov have a smoke. Nolan apologizes for thinking the scientist was working for another team. Rostov says he is accustomed to it, being Russian.

I’ve got to wonder something at this point. If the mountain is so tall that its top is above the cloud layer and said top is flat and miles in size, then why didn’t anyone see this from the plane? Something that massive just doesn’t go unnoticed. Hell, the missionaries on the neighboring island should be able to look over the water and see this colossal mountain. Surely, someone would have seen it before now.

Sometime later the group is just sitting around, smoking. I swear this group has smoked more during this trip than a refinery operating at full capacity. Did people really smoke that damn much back then? No wonder so many dropped dead from emphysema. Phillips and Rostov note the gases being forced up through the ground, similar to the blast that nearly took out Nolan. Rostov says it would be a bad thing if the gases interacted with the uranium. Phillips’ Geiger counter has led them to the center of the uranium deposits, but there is still no sign of the rocket. It could be anywhere. They wander on some more. Wilson tells Nolan that morale is low, so Nolan gives everyone a pep talk, which basically comes down to “Yeah, we’re low on supplies and I want to go home, too, but I’m going to do my job.” After he gives the speech, he realizes the others are fine and Wilson only prompted him because Nolan himself seemed dejected. They press on.

“I’m not going to lick it. YOU lick it!”After walking through the same sets multiple times, from multiple directions, they come across a pterodactyl or similar type beast. Willie wonders if they would make good eating, which shows you the caliber of the rations they brought with them. Wilson shoots it with his rifle and the gang begin to scour the rocks to find where it fell. In doing so, they see the rocket a short ways away, its nose buried in the soil. They all rush towards it, but are forced to stop when a brontosaurus and a pair of triceratops emerge from the jungle and start grazing in the area around the rocket. What are they gonna do now?

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

Nolan comes up with a plan. Wilson and Willie take up positions in the rocks. On his mark, they both start firing their guns into the air. The noise frightens away the dinosaurs, allowing Nolan, Rostov and Phillips the chance to run to the rocket. While Nolan keeps guard, the two scientists open up the rocket, climb inside and retrieve whatever vital information they require from the flight recorder. Rostov is pleased at what they found, saying the expedition was worthwhile and the information will allow them to better design the next generation of rockets.

Unbeknownst to Willie, a triceratops is walking around in the foliage behind him. Nolan sees it and calls a warning. Does Willie run? No. Does Willie fire his weapon at it? No. Just what does Willie do you ask? Why, he just sits there looking stupid and lets the triceratops charge him. The others drive the beast away with gun fire and then run to check on Willie. There’s a large tear in the front of his shirt, with a wee bit of blood. I guess the triceratops impaled him on one of its horns? Maybe it just stomped on him? I really don’t think it pulled out a carved piece of bamboo and shanked him. It was hard to tell from the lousy editing. So after a few last words, Willie dies. They bury him and leave his precious parachute atop his grave, which is a pity. That thing could be a quick way down the mountain for someone.

Thank goodness the cigarettes didn’t get wet. Time for a smoke!They now begin their descent down the mountain. Nolan wants to take it slow and easy so no one else gets permanently left behind. They climb down back below the cloud layer and the film returns to normal black and white. No more green tint. At least we are not subjected to just as much footage of them climbing down as we did when they were climbing up, because as they stop for a rest, the entire mountain starts to shake. The feared result of those subterranean gases meeting up with the uranium deposits is about to occur right under their feet. Time to haul ass! The group finishes their descent in record time, fleeing the stock footage avalanche of rocks and soil. This still seems to last about an hour too long.

Once at the bottom, they race through the jungle, the entire island coming apart beneath them. They are forced to hurtle newly forms chasms as the land splinters all around. They race through the abandoned village and we see no sign of that native girl and her chubby brother. I guess they left after pops kicked the bucket. Making it to the shore, the four surviving men conveniently find a canoe left behind by the natives. They hop in and begin paddling like mad. Once clear, they look back to see the entire island explode and sink beneath the waves in a fury of miniatures and stock footage. Time for a smoke! Nolan and Wilson light up as the credits roll. I suppose they need to paddle to that other island where the missionaries are at if they have any chance of returning to America. I wonder what the people who once lived on this island will say when they learn it’s now gone forever. I bet they might be quite upset to learn that both their village and their “gods” have been obliterated. I wonder what the odds of Nolan’s group making it back to civilization alive might be against the chances of them ending up in a big boiling cooking pot.

 

The End

 

 

Review

This film obviously drew inspiration for its story and title from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, published originally in 1912 and concerning an expedition to a plateau in the Amazon basin of South America where prehistoric animals still survive. Trading the Amazon for a South Pacific island, the movie retains the idea of a lost world of prehistoric creatures atop a mountain and rather than feature British explorers, plug in American soldiers and scientists into the mix. Unfortunately, the film is big on ideas, but short on cash and it shows in almost every aspect of the film. The story can be broken down into three basic segments I like to call: Before the Crash, Climbing the Mountain and Jungle Antics in the Sky.

Before the Crash
This part of the film is used to set up the thin plot and then introduce us to our cast of characters and their personalities. The first is done through a lot of stock footage and exposition, but we quickly get the gist of it: an experimental rocket has strayed off course and landed somewhere in the South Pacific. It’s up to our cast to locate and salvage it. Once we get that established we meet our “heroes.” There’s Major Joe Nolan, a womanizer with a little black book over flowing with names and numbers. He can’t seem to remember who he’s put the moves on and when. Then we have Danny Wilson who was about sixty seconds away from being on a thirty day leave when he got called back to action. He spends the entire film resenting his predicament, though he rises to the occasion when it is called for. Rounding out our Air Force personnel is Willie Tatlow, a drafted grease monkey who likes working on planes much more than he does riding in them and is always ready with a smartass quip or cowardly retort at any moment. The three of them are all portrayed as decent people and guys you’d want to hang out with, under normal circumstances. In a situation like this, they all become annoying. Nolan is grumpy and suspicious of others, Wilson is increasingly annoyed with his situation and Willie is just…well, Willie, dreaming about planes and wearing a parachute 24/7. I suppose there are worse Air Force personnel to be stuck on an island with.

This leads us to our scientists, beginning with Michael Rostov. He’s a Russian ex-patriot who has lost respect for his homeland and is now lending his expertise to America. The lost rocket is his baby and he won’t let anyone recover it without him along for the ride. His motivations are not just based in a pursuit of science, but the hopes of bettering life for everyone (Peace through superior firepower, eh?). Of course, he doesn’t really talk a lot, leading others – mainly Nolan – to suspect him of being a traitor. Accompanying Rostov are two members of his team that designed the rocket. First is Robert Phillips, who comes across as over eager to the point of recklessness, running around with both a camera and a Geiger counter and not knowing which one to use at any given moment. His disregard for caution gets him in trouble, at least at one point. Finally, there is Stanley Briggs, who is completely out of his element. He comes across as the bookworm type, more comfortable in the lab than in the field. This is proven to be true when he trails so far behind the others during the climb. None of the scientists behave like they are worried about their predicament, acting like it was just another day at the office, whereas the Air Force guys are almost constantly on edge. Perhaps this was a natural thing. The war veterans, knowing what could be waiting on the island, are on guard at all times while the three guys who spend most of their time in lab really have no idea of how many dangers lurk all around them. In this regard, as annoying as they all are, at least they come off as genuine.

Once the entire cast is introduced, the film wastes absolutely no time in getting them all in a plane and on their way. Here we get a few brief moments with them, but nothing of any value is learned other than the seeds of Nolan’s suspicions be planted, Willie’s role as resident comic relief being established and Wilson’s overall discontentment setting in. Soon enough, they crash and find themselves pretty much alone on the island. Despite this, Nolan decides to perform his duty and press onward toward their ultimate goal, the others following. So at this point, the film has played out like any other. The story is set up, albeit rather quickly and our characters have been introduced. Time to get things moving, right? Wrong.

Climbing the Mountain
The gang are not on the island very long before they learn that their ultimate goal is going to be waiting for them at the top of a local mountain, one the locals refer to as the “home of the gods” and where they believe it is taboo to travel. This leads to the most mind-numbing portion of the film, the seemingly endless climb. This goes on forever. At first it might seem like the film is using the climbing segment as a build up to an exciting set piece of some kind, hundreds of feet in the air, perhaps featuring a monster or deadly natives, but we soon realize that the climb is a goal unto itself, and that this portion of the movie was used for nothing more than to pad out the running time. This shows how just little story there was, when nearly a quarter of the film’s length is comprised of such dreariness. It doesn’t help that the set is just shot from different angles to try and make it seem like many different locations. All in all, a real snoozer.

Despite how dull this part of the movie is, there are a couple things that transpire that are worth noting. The quick glimpse of a lizard standing in for a dinosaur foreshadows both the monsters we will see as well as the ineffective FX used to bring them to life. The encounter with subterranean gases under “tremendous pressure” also foreshadows the film's un-exciting climax. It is also here that Nolan overhears an exchange between Rostov and Briggs which fuels his suspicion of the Russian. This only deepens when Briggs falls to his death during the following day’s climb. Yes, Briggs was out of shape and should have stayed behind, but did Rostov really do his best to save him? The seeds are planted here for some character conflict, but ultimately is really doesn’t go anywhere. Briggs’ death scene is both good and bad. Yes, there is an obvious stunt double standing in for actor Whit Bissell, but his full on plunge and then vanishing into the mists below looks good. It’s just too bad that two different shots were linked together to produce this scene. In one shot, Rostov can clearly be seen stretched out on the ground, whereas in the other shot, he is gone. As the two shots are melded together, it looks as if Rostov just fades out of existence. Finally after all this, the five surviving members of the expedition make it to the top of the mountain. At this point we’re almost fifty minutes into a eighty-three plus minute running time and the film still feels like it is in set-up mode, as not much has really happened.

Jungle Antics in the Sky
Upon reaching the top, the film’s gimmick kicks in and all scenes are now tinted green. I suppose this was meant to reflect the thick jungle the explorers find at the top, but it quickly is forgotten about by both the filmmakers and the viewers. After stomping around for what seems like days, the characters encounter plants that haven’t existed for millions of years as well as posit the existence of a large uranium deposit due to Phillips’ Geiger counter readings. The rocket’s location continues to elude them and they all begin to get short-tempered. Again, all this takes place on a handful of sets that are re-used over and over, just filmed from differing angles. Finally, the group nearly runs into a brontosaurus and as they all stare slack-jawed in disbelief at the beast, the audience has a similar reaction, only this is due to the truly substandard stop-motion work used to bring the creature to life. Willis O’Brien’s work in King Kong from eighteen years earlier looked much better than this. Given the cheapness of everything else so far – stock footage, cheap re-usable sets, recycled props – I’d bet a large portion of the film’s budget went toward the dinosaurs and sadly, they just don’t look great. This is true of the brontosaurus as well the triceratops and pterodactyl we later see. Don’t even look for a T-rex, despite what the movie’s poster promised.

After enough useless running around the rocky and jungle sets used to represent the mountain’s top (how big and flat was that mountain at the top anyway?) during which Nolan comes to realize Rostov can be trusted, they finally locate the rocket and retrieve what they need, though this comes at the cost of Willie’s life. He is gored by a triceratops in one of the most pathetic and bloodless deaths ever committed to screen. By now, the film has been such a letdown that most viewers are eager for it to end, despite so little of interest happening. The transition away from the green tint footage back to normal black and white comes as a surprise, the viewers have become so accustomed to the gimmick that it doesn’t even register any more. The characters begin their climb down the mountain, but we are saved from a potentially coma-inducing descent sequence when the aforementioned volcanic gases interact with the aforementioned uranium deposits and the entire mountain starts to shake. Naturally, the four survivors make it down the mountain in record time, locate a canoe and paddle out to see as the entire island sinks, taking all of our hopes for a good movie with it.

The Summation
The simple truth is, this film doesn’t have a lot going for it. There’s a short running time during which large portions of the narrative are taken up with endless filler, such as the needlessly long climbing segment. The film is shot entirely on a handful of sets with liberal does of stock footage thrown in to account for things the budget would not allow. It would seem the bulk of the film’s money went for the dinosaur FX, and even these moments are extremely lackluster and not even up to par with much older films. The characters are pretty one note and seem more annoying than anything and the green tint gimmick wears off pretty fast. Fans of 50’s genre films will want to see this one for completion’s sake, but everyone else should just stay away unless you are in dire need of something to help you sleep.

 

Expect To See:
Comic Relief – Willie is the odious comic relief in this film, with his insistence on wearing a parachute at all times and his fantasizing about planes rather than girls. Yeah, it’s all about as funny as an Andy Dick stand-up routine.
Dinosaurs – Atop the island mountain, our heroes find dinosaurs long thought to be extinct still roaming around. This may or may not include such ancient species as Brontosaurus, Triceratops, Pterodactyl and Betty White.
Gunplay – While the characters have their guns with them throughout the film, it’s only when confronted by the dinosaurs that they start firing off rounds left and right in a display worthy of South-Central Los Angeles.
Jungle Hijinks – Both on the island and at the top of the mountain do the characters encounter jungle through which they must traverse. Alas, there are no killer plants, as seeing one of these yahoos devoured by one might have kept me awake. Maybe.
Stock Footage – Oh, good gravy, another movie loaded with stock footage, including the V2 rocket launch that showed up in about half the cheap science fiction films of the 50’s. It’s like passing out Ambien to the audience before the film starts.
Violence – There’s a wee bit of this. Mostly it’s either human on dinosaur violence or dinosaur on dinosaur violence. At the end, one guy does get taken out by a triceratops, but it all happens off screen. Overall, pretty tame.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 3
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 1
Cups of coffee consumed: 6
Cigarettes smoked: 23
Gunshots: 71
Real lizards posing as dinosaurs: 1
Stop motion dinosaurs: 4
Total dinosaurs seen: 7
T-Rex seen on movie poster: 2
T-Rex seen in movie: 0
Percentage of movie comprised of stock footage: 3.52%
Percentage of movie comprised of climbing up mountain: 22.72%
Percentage of movie comprised of climbing down mountain: 4.06%
Percentage of movie comprised of green tinted footage: 36.05%
Percentage of movie Willie wears a parachute: 72.65%

01 Min – Stock footage alert! What a way to start.
08 Min – I think some of those decorative pieces later turned up in the Brady house.
11 Min – The film’s resident grease monkey. Less grease, more monkey.
12 Min – Stock footage alert!
22 Min – Wait! Which way is the plane crashing?
26 Min – Just their luck. Only one hot native girl left on the entire island.
29 Min – Begin climbing.
32 Min – Hugh Beaumont does his best not to laugh.
43 Min – Rostov fades out of shot.
47 Min – Hey, my TV just crapped out. No wait, that green tint is on purpose.
48 Min – End climbing, they finally reached the top.
56 Min – It’s a footprint, not a pile of poop.
63 Min – Careful with your limited water supply!
73 Min – Well, don’t just sit there, do something!
83 Min – Time for another smoke. Roll credits.


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time someone lights up a cigarette or has an unlit one in their mouth, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

I swear, that German V2 rocket
appeared in more films than
Marlene Dietrich.


“Rocket? No, this is where I
booked my next vacation.”


“I’m calling the producer. We can
at least get enough money in the
budget for proper lighting.”


 
“Insane Clown Posse? Yuck.”

“Damn, we should have made a right
at Guam. We could be at the titty
bar in Taiwan by now.”

“Stewardess, do you have any
Pepto Bismol?”


 
“Okay, everyone keep an eye out
for a hatch in the dirt as well
as a smoke monster.”


 
“This is cozy, but what if I gotta
poop in the middle of the night?”

“15 minutes can save you
15 percent on car insurance.”

“Hang on fool, you’re carrying all of
our toilet paper in your backpack!”

Stan invented cliff jumping, but it
would not become popular until
parachutes were added.

“I feel sick.”
“It's not you. The movie just
turned green.”



“Yuck, spam again.”

At last, physical proof that
Snuffleupagus exists.

“Dude, a tic tac wouldn’t kill you.”

“Jerry, that’s the last time I ask
you to scratch an itch.”


“Of course that’s not Batman!”

“It says the budget just ran out
and we have less than ten minutes
before the volcano erupts.”

“I told that fool not to mix that
many Mentos with so much soda.”

The American rowing team was off
to a less than auspicious start.

 

Immortal Dialog
Keep In Mind

Discussing the potential uranium deposits.

Willie: “Hey, my watch stopped again. Does that stuff act like a magnet?”
Rostov: “That stuff is the most mysterious element in nature. The most dangerous, the most unstable, the most valuable.”

Shadow’s Comment: In 2020 we called that toilet paper.


  • Women actually enjoy hearing men talk about their jobs.
  • Wayward rockets always manage to crash on land.
  • Wayward rockets always crash intact.
  • It’s possible to climb a mountain with nothing more than a single length of rope.
  • It’s possible to make a campfire without any wood.
  • Parachutes are acceptable mountain climbing gear.
  • The top of some mountains are flat and are many square miles in size.
  • Air Force mechanics dream about aircraft.

The group spots a Pterodactyl.

Willie: “Hey, I wonder if a piece of that big bird would make good eating.”


Shadow’s Comment: Tastes just like chicken.

 

 

Movie Trailer
This Film & Me
Despite my love of 50’s films, I had never heard of this movie until I saw the DVD on sale in the store. I even missed the MST3K episode with it. How’s that for completely missing the boat? After discovering this movie, I would come to learn of a great many films that decade which had escaped my notice. Of course most were pretty bad, otherwise they’d have been played more on TV in the 70’s when I was first exposed to them. I bought the DVD for this film and gave it a watch. Not the best. Closer to the bottom of the barrel of 50’s films, though it did give it a good attempt. I chalked it up as a likely candidate for review here and then moved on to other things. I only gave it a second watch when I finally pulled it off the shelf for this review. It might be another fifteen years before I haul it out again.


 

Rating
Shadow Says


Shadow's rating: Three Tombstones



The Good

  • Short running time
  • Yeah, that's all I got.

The Bad

  • Annoying characters (mainly Willie)
  • Needed more females
  • Dumb green tint gimmick

The Ugly

  • Too much stock footage
  • Shoddy dinosaur FX
  • Too much climbing!!!

 

Review Round-Up
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