Friday, August 27, 2010

Film #38: The Lost World (1925)

Damn, dirty apes!
If we learned anything from our nine years in college (what, we liked to party), it is this fact:
Primate monkeys want to be people.

And since they can’t be, these Bobos are so jealous of man that they will strike out with furious fury every chance they can get. For this reason, it is commonly agreed that all monkeys should be shot on sight, before it is too late.

Don’t believe us!? Just watch this week’s flick “The Lost World.” A group of adventurous humans are trapped in a land filled with carnivorous Allosauruses and horny Triceratops, but the animal they have to fear most is a jealousy-filled Ape-Man bent on crushing their melons with rocks! Where is a good monkey gun when you need one!

The flick starts with South American explorer Professor Challenger returning to London with wild claims of a world stuck in the Jurassic era. He said while exploring the uncharted areas of the Amazon River, he came across a huge elevated plateau that, due to its separation from the main jungle, never evolved beyond the age of dinosaurs. Problem is, his canoe tipped over while heading back from the trip and all his proof of the dinos was destroyed. Yeah right, liar.
Preposterous! Outlandish! Absurd! His snotty colleagues yell. Burn the witch!

Challenger offers the audience a challenge, come with him and he will prove the existence of this prehistoric Lost World. Several volunteers step up the task, including sissy boy reporter Edward E. Malone. See Malone loves this dame who don’t love him back, due to the fact that she wants a man with gusto, a man with stories, a man with “strange experiences.” Since that funny business in the sheep barn 13 years ago didn’t count, Malone sees the dino-expedition as a chance to impress his lady love.

When he hears that one of Challengers colleagues was stranded back in the Lost World, the father of worried and lovely Miss Paula White, Malone sees the potential for a sensational newspaper story and his paper decides to fund the entire expedition – with exclusive rights to the story, of course.

Challenger’s new team only half believes they will find anything. After all, Olde Challenger has Doc Brown hair and a Rip Van Winkle beard – who would believe anything this kook says. But when they arrive, The Lost World is more exciting, horrific and dangerous than they could have ever imagined.

Dinos run wild, half man-apes stalk their every move, and violent volcanoes bubble searing lava. Things go from bad to worse when a dum-dum Brontosaurus destroys their bridge between the Lost and Found worlds. The lava isn’t the only thing heating up, as Malone and Miss White begin to get more friendly than a pack of raptors feeding on a goat carcass.

Are our beloved adventurers trapped forever? Will Malone get in some “strange experiences” with a dino?! What about the killer monkeys?!?

Find out in this week’s silent but deadly action/adventure/horror masterpiece, 1925’s “The Lost World.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 4.1
Chris Dimick dino-roars:

“What kid doesn’t love dinosaurs? I’ll tell you what kid, a communist brat! Take them away, boys and lock ‘em up in the CIA raptor pen (I know they have one). Waterboard what’s left of ‘em after that if you like, the filthy non-dino-loving asshole.

Growing up like most male American Twinkie-eating Midwesterners, I was infatuated with these prehistoric ponies. A longtime popular toy around the five-child Dimick home was a set of plastic dinosaurs I received one birthday. My brothers and I would make them battle to the death, chomp down various ill-fated G.I. Joes, and even destroy a few of baby sister’s Barbies.

For each birthday, our caring mother would bake us a themed birthday treat that would make the folks at Charm City Cakes jealous. Most of us demanded a dinosaur cake, which my mom would usually produce as a sheet cake with blue frosting for water, and a middle brown-frosting island covered with terrifying plastic T-Rexes, swaying palm trees, tiny cavemen, and meandering herbivores. It was one of the coolest presents a boy could receive.
My thoughts drifted to those beautiful cakes during this week’s viewing of The Lost World.

I’m in the triple-decades now, but that doesn’t mean my inner love for those giant, angry, dumb, former kings of the world has diminished. After all these years, I had just forgotten how awesome dinosaurs were. And you know what; they are still awesome… even for an adult.

And if you want dinosaurs, The Lost World delivers in spectacular fashion. One might hear the words “special effects driven 1925 silent film” and expect a one way trip to wrist-cutting-boredom-ville. But The Lost World’s special effects amazingly hold up enough to still be fun and amazing to see. These aren’t your CGI T-Rexes smashing through a bathroom and slicing into a John-riding lawyer (Confession, I saw 1993’s Jurassic Park seven times in the theater during its original run. Yes, I was obsessed.)

But that doesn’t mean Lost World's creatures aren’t realistic-looking. I mean, have you ever seen a dinosaur? No. Then how do you know they didn’t look or behave as they did in this film?

Beyond all that, the detail involved in creating these stop-motion dinosaurs is above and beyond anything I've seen from that period, or even the following 40 years. The way they breathe, walk and best of all fight is pretty realistic. Better yet, it is a riot to watch.

And hide the kiddies eyes for some parts; these dinosaurs are not your average Barney fair – one fight scene realistically portrays an Allosaurus gutting then eating a Stegosaurs.

The Lost World is in the monster movie genre of horror, a genre that usually isn’t kind to films as they age. Scary monsters just lose their flair as cultural tastes change and people get used to their image –Frankenstein’s monster had people fainting in the aisles in the 1930s, but today it is no more terrifying than Herman Munster.

But dinosaurs will always scare and fascinate moviegoers as long as they appear on screen. The more we see of them, the more we are intrigued at how helpless we would have been in their presence. They are the ultimate monster… one ironically that brings out the awe-filled whittle kid in you.

Kick into the plot some interesting human characters, solid humor, and a friggin’ fantastic trick monkey named Jocko, and The Lost World, though 85 years old, still tastes as fresh as one of Mom Dimick’s dino birthday cakes.”

N-Rating: 4.0
Nick Rich dino-roars:

"If there's one thing I've learned from watching movies its never combine scientists and dinosaurs - it never turns out well. The Lost World only cemented this knowledge firmly in my brain as I discovered that 85 years ago the situation was exactly the same! This film displayed dinosaurs in a way that had never been experienced before and unleashed on the world an iconic image that still burns bright even today. Dinosaurs sure do get around!

I can absolutely see why people were blown away by this film when it came out - the effects were absolutely amazing! After seeing some advance footage in 1922, the New York Times ran a front page article saying "these monsters of the ancient world, or of the new world discovered in the ether, were extraordinarily lifelike. If fakes, they were masterpieces."

Personally, I'd even go so far as to say that they were better than what was being produced 55 years later! The dinosaurs weren't just a gimmick in this film, the footage of them was copious - even bordering on too much. As I was watching yet another dino attack scene come to an end I was shocked to see saliva and goo in the victors chomping jaws! Keep in mind this reaction is coming from a person who grew up watching Jurassic Park (I didn't see it 7 times like Chris, but I have a wondrously fond memory of seeing it in a magical faraway land - Traverse City - as a young lad); just imagine how someone in 1925 would have reacted!

That's what I'm learning to love about older films... they engage my imagination in a way modern films with all of their zip and zap will never be able to - they make me imagine what it would have been like to view a film in a different time (a practice I've found extremely enjoyable as we've progressed through the project).
And 1925 was certainly a different time.
Now, most modern viewers might find themselves a little bored with this film as the effects (of course) aren't as good as today's and they do have a tendency to go on a bit longer than one is used to... but if you're brave enough to give this film a go, when the long effects scenes are upon you, just let your modern expectations melt away, and think about how wondrous what you are watching would have been in a world where there were still millions of Model-T's on the road!

Nick's Childhood Dinosaur Confession:
Like Chris, I too was into dinosaurs as a child... but I must admit I was wooed into such a state. You see, at the age when dinos are big for young boys He-Man had a firm grip on my heart... my cousin was the one who really loved dinosaurs (with his dino-fossils, dino-books and dino-toys), not me. However, after seeing his zeal for the subject and experiencing the satisfaction of making a T-Rex eat a G.I. Joe, naturally, I promptly made room in my heart for dinosaurs.
Phew! I feel much better getting that off my chest!

The Skinny: Check this flick out - it's in the Library of Congress for Pete's sake! You'll either appreciate it or think its hilarious (or quite possibly feel both ways) - either way its a win-win situation. Goooooooo dinos!

Things We Learned from “The Lost World”:
-Unspoken rule: Kissing someone means you want to marry them - in five minutes.
-The Allosaurus is one angry a-hole of an animal.
-You can Andrew W.K. dance to the end credits of the flick.
-Monkeys will climb anything if it means getting to a human woman.
-Watch out for “girlish whim.”
-T-Rex was a picky eater.
-People fall into friendship as fast as they fall in love in the olden days.
-A slide whistle is the perfect accompaniment to a slip and fall.
-Chris’s first TV crush was mini-skirted cave-girl Christa in the 1991 TV show “Land of the Lost.”
-In 1925 filmland, even the black people were white.
-It takes three seconds to get from London to the mouth of the Amazon by paper ship.
-The area code rule of dating even applies in The Lost World.
-In 1925, people fought by tumbling!

Quote of the Viewing:
[Hunter Sir John Roxton finds the scattered bones of missing explorer White, the father of Miss Paula White. When Roxton gets back to camp to break the news, Malone tells Roxton that he and Paula are going to get married! This puts Roxton in the position as party pooper.]
Chris: [scene shows Roxton talking to Paula] “Don’t expect your father to walk you down the isle. I mean! I’m sure he’s fine!”
Nick: He can still walk her down the aisle, she just has to grab his leg bones and do the work for him.

Things Worse Than Death
Prof. Challenger says in the movie that explorers can face death – or worse – in the Lost World. What could be worse than your entire existence and consciousness disappearing and one’s body becoming worm food? Well, here are a few things:

Mondays get all the press, but we say Tuesdays are the day we’re most likely to ready our noose inside the olde work-hell cubicle. You know, just in case that last straw falls on our backs.

Toll Roads
We’d rather drive our cars off a cliff than onto these road rip-offs. You might have to make 37 turns and guide the way by star position, but it’s worth it to avoid paying “the man” his $1 per axle per mile.

Sitting Next to a “Talker”
Be it airplanes, Amtrak or any other confined public space, we’d rather end it all than have to fake listen to a seatmate who feels comfortable enough spilling their entire 6 hour life story to a complete stranger. Just because I’m sitting next to you doesn’t mean fate has brought us together for you to ear-torture me with asinine commentary.
I know somebody has to have a gun on this train. Please pass it forward!

Being a Tween
Hair is appearing where teacher said it would, but why does it still seem so strange? The raging emotions, hatred of parents, school, food, dogs, pencils, air, the blue sky… not to mention that Justin totally hit on Becky when he knew that Beck and I held hands that one time two weeks ago! Why are adults so lame! What is the point of life! I’m not going to use anything I learn here anyway! I’m just so sad, now elated, now sad! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Why is it only Tween Nick understands me!

China’s 10-day Traffic Jam
Chris was once in a four hour traffic jam on I-90 back in college when trying to drive from Kalamzoo to Chicago. After the second hour of not moving one foot, people got out of their cars and were hanging out with each other on the freeway. Around the third hour, people were not partying anymore... they were getting pissed. At 3.5 hours, I think I saw people sucking on their tailpipes. But a 10 day, 60 mile traffic jam! Death is much better.

Listening to This:

Dinosaur Parade!
The Lost World awakened in Nick and Chris their boyhood love of dinosaurs. Let’s celebrate by a Internet fueled spectacle known as the RDHP Dinosaur Parade!

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