The Lost World (1960)

The Lost World (1960): United States – directed by Irwin Allen

Not rated by the MPAA – contains stupid-looking dinosaurs and a ridiculously clean-looking cave-girl

This movie is terrible.  It’s offensive, stupid, poorly made, and almost unwatchably bad.

It’s a remake of the 1925 version of The Lost World.  I first saw that one back in sixth grade, when we were in America for a furlough.  I had wanted to watch The Lost World: Jurassic Park badly (or thought it was the Crichton movie) since I had loved the book.  Little did I know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had already written a book by the same title.  You might remember him better for creating Sherlock Holmes.

In any case, I always loved Doyle’s story of a lost plateau in South America, where Professor Challenger and a gang of explorers find a place passed over by evolution.  Dinosaurs still roam and prove rather dangerous.  In the first movie they used stop motion for the first time in a full length feature.  Here they used slightly different methods.

To begin with, this version is directed by Irwin Allen.  He’s sort of like the Michael Bay of the 1960’s and 1970’s: big, loud, and dumb.  He produced the original The Poseidon Adventure, directed the sequel, and made other big budget blockbuster fair like The Towering Inferno.  None of his films were particularly good, but rather more like popcorn movies, sort of like Independence Day.

This has got to be one of his worst efforts.  Challenger is a blowhard who enlists a team at the beginning of the film to go back into the jungle with him to get evidence of these dinosaurs.  Along for the ride are another skeptical professor, a famous explorer, and a newspaper reporter, whom Challenger hates.

Of course, since this is a stupid “blockbuster” movie, there is a hot chick who manages to force her way along.  She brings her young brother and her stupid poodle.  She’s in love with the explorer, since he’s a bit of a rogue, and a Lord, but she’s also intrigued by the reporter since he’s… I dunno, something I expect.

In South America (they fly since this was made after the book was written and planes were commonplace) they meet up with a young Brazilian guy and a greedy Brazilian guy.  The young guy flies the helicopter, while the greedy guy screams like a girl the whole time.

The helicopter is the biggest piece of crap ever.  Looks like crap, flies like crap, gets pushed off the plateau by a dinosaur like crap.  And then the dinosaurs start attacking, as the people are sitting around camping, playing guitar, while the girl wears fancy clothes.  In the middle of the jungle.

And then we see the dinosaurs.  They move very smoothly, not chunky at all.  That is because they are various lizards, and a small alligator, with horns and spines glued to their heads.  I am serious.  There’s an iguana, what looks like a gila monster, and at the end a baby salamander.  The baby hatches out of an egg and Challenger immediately declares it is Tyrannosaurus Rex.  And they’ll take him back to England where he’ll grow as big as a house and then everyone will have to leave London.

The romance is also stupid.  They’re stuck in the jungle, they never mention not having food or water, aren’t all that worried about how they’ll get back.  This gives them time to bicker amongst themselves over the lady.  And then another lady shows up, a native Indian who lives on the plateau.  There are Indians there, you see, who act like stereotypical Native Americans, beating drums and wearing paint.  It’s all quite offensive.  In any case, this young lady is quite pretty with her styled hair that doesn’t get mussed, and her clothes that are just covering enough to not violate the Production Code.

So yeah, the movie is terrible.  It was made before anyone had seen other survivor movies like Jurassic Park, or read any of the eight million books like that.  Heck, I even wrote one myself back in eighth grade.  This may be because these books weren’t around back in 1960, but that’s not an excuse.  They also didn’t have the slightest clue what dinosaurs looked like; I guess paleontology wasn’t far along at the time.  The movie is bad, not even quite bad enough it’s enjoyable.  A group of loosened up people would probably enjoy parts of it, and it’s a good time laughing at the dinosaurs.  Other than that, I’m not too sure it holds much of worth for anyone.


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