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THE LOST WORLD (1960) ** ½

Before directing a rash of disaster movies in the 70’s, Irwin Allen helmed this remake of the 1925 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classic.  Claude Rains stars as Professor Challenger, a kooky scientist who returns to London from an Amazon expedition claiming to have seen dinosaurs on a mysterious plateau.  Although he’s ridiculed to no end by the scientific community, he’s given a second chance to clear his name by taking a big game hunter (Michael Rennie), his daughter (Jill St. John), and a sneezing reporter (David Hedison) back to the jungle to prove the existence of dinosaurs.  Once on the plateau, the expedition encounters man eating vines, giant petunias, a sexy native girl, a humongous Day-Glo spider, angry cannibals, a raging volcano, and of course, forced perspective lizards.  (I mean “dinosaurs”.)

 

Rains gives an awesome scenery chewing performance as the blustering Challenger and St. John, Rennie, and Hedison do some fine work as well.  I also enjoyed seeing Fernando Lamas (Lorenzo’s dad) as the macho helicopter pilot too.  The real stars of the movie however are the forced perspective lizards that are supposed to be dinosaurs.  These effects are cheesier than the state of Wisconsin but dammit, they’re a lot of fun.

 

Now would I have preferred that the special effects be of the stop motion variety and not the goofy giant Gila monsters with horns glued to their heads?  Sure.  Did I wish that the flick wasn’t filled with annoying stalling tactics like moronic songs and idiotic love triangles?  Uh-huh.  Was I peeved about the stupid diamond subplot?  You betcha.  Was I disappointed that Challenger didn’t take a full grown dinosaur back with him to civilization and let it rampage through the city, like he did in the original film?  Damn skippy.  But even though the movie has its share of faults, it’s not that terrible and I still kinda dug it despite of everything.

 

While I may prefer the stop motion special effects of the original film, I didn’t really mind the fact that the dinosaurs were actually just overgrown lizards because that one scene where the Komodo fought the baby alligator (sorry, the brontosaurus fought the tyrannosaurus) was kind of tight.  Say what you will about this scene (PETA would definitely not approve), it’s still a heck of a lot better than the shitty CGI effects used on countless similarly themed Sci-Fi Channel Original Movies.  Besides, how can you completely hate a movie in which a forced perspective Gila monster gobbles up a G.I Joe action figure?

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