Somewhere in a not-quite-NASA building, white men in suits launch a valuable test rocket. Of course, everything goes horribly wrong and the rocket shoots off-course. Enter smooth and sexy Cesar Romero as big Major Joe Nolan! He’s a slick playboy pilot, called in to lead the search-and-rescue. After assembling a team that includes Ward Cleaver and a misshapen little man from Green Acres, they fly off in search of the downed rocket. And – doodly doodly doop! – they then crash on the LOST CONTINENT! They learn from the obligatory attractive native woman that the rocket crashed on top of a large mountain. And so begins – ROCK CLIMBING! After 53 hours of rock climbing, the crew reaches a lush jungle populated by Ray Harry Hausen-reject dinosaurs. Fortunately, while they’re up there, several members of the expedition meet untimely demises. In the end, the entire island spontaneously starts falling apart and our heroes steal a boat before the whole thing goes under. Set adrift, cigarettes are lit and glances are exchanged. The end. Of a whole week spent rock climbing.
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This is easily one of the most meandering old b-movies I’ve ever seen. It excels at meandering. It took me a couple of viewings to understand everything that was going on, but that might just be because I’m a dumb, doughy eastcoaster. The plot isn’t exciting at all and neither is the ‘action.’ In regards to the dinosaur sequences, King Kong this is not. In regards to the rock climbing, Vertical Limit this is not. Thankfully.
Ah, rock climbing. It honestly wasn’t as devestating as most MSTies had hyped it up to be. Still, it’s a stupifying stretch of the movie lasting at least 13 days, by my best estimate. I can’t tell what the filmmakers were going for when they shot these scenes. One would assume that it’s just padding out the film. Still, could they have been trying to pass it off as an action sequence? Had audiences of the time never seen a good, quality rock climbing sequence before? Were Cesar Romero’s buttcheeks in such high demand? Sadly, we may never know. However, we do know that rock climbing does nothing for the film and all it does for us, the viewers, is take 18 years off of our lives that could’ve been spent watching Dune.
There really isn’t a whole lot more to the film beyond those rock climbing scenes. Seriously, the entire middle third of this film – perhaps even the middle two quarters – consist of climbing up and around a mountain. The first quarter of the film is dull set-up, but I did enjoy the little stretch of time in the woman’s apartment with Cesar. There’s just enough subtle 1950s innuendo to amuse but, of course, there’s not much else to speak of. The jungle sequences aren’t all that suspensful or exciting either, consisting of the men taking 15-minute breaks and coyly flirting with one other. The dangerous, man-eating dinosaurs they stumble upon were all, in reality, herbivores, except for the pterodactylus (which doesn’t even notice them, by the way).
As for Hugh, he’s kind of a let-down here. His role isn’t as prominent as in his other experiments (420 Human Duplicators and 803 The Mole People) and he’s just kind of eye candy. Even Cesar Romero, another reliable personal favorite, fails to enchant with his trademark moustache. The whole thing is a botched combination of King Kong and The Searchers. Or not. If the movie wasn’t dull enough without it, rock climbing only serves to bludgeon the remaining joy out of your whimpering, tattered spirit. Bring me Cy Roth and his Fire Maidens instead, I say!
MOVIE GRADE: D+ (meandering, over-padded ’50s sci-fi)
This one got better upon a second viewing. The first time around, it struck me as average but very bland all-around, like it’s predecessor, Wild Rebels. The second round provided more in-theater smiles and chuckles. Let it sink in and you might enjoy it more. The host segments are definitely looking up, in places.
The Hugh Beaumont segment is one of my personal favorites. Mike just does such a great job in the role, and the concept of Hugh being one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse is perfect. Fortunately, Mike would reprise the role for season four’s Human Duplicators. The rest of the host segments are fair-to-average, with not much else really standing out. Joel’s deadpan “Explorers” sketch is a delight, though. (“Are you high?”)
The Mads aren’t quite firing on all cylinders here, but Frank’s inventions are charming enough. He was still finding his groove, so anything that’s lacking is forgivable. Joel’s invention is delayed until the following episode, which results in a rare show of rebellion from the usually-submissive Mr. Robinson. I enjoyed the casual and random end segment, too.
The riffing induces mostly smiles, but it’s endearing enough to get a thumbs-up. Their freak-outs during the rock climbing half of this film are mildly amusing, but such things have a high likelihood of crashing and burning, for me. Their rage isn’t always as convincing or well-played as later in the series. Still, it’s a numbing film with a handful of good lines and even more smiles. A pleasant episode – and a classic, due to ROCK CLIMBING – but not one of the best.
BRAINS GRADE: C+ (likeable, smile-inducing lightness)
- Joel preps the Bots for the experiment. D
- Frank presents three exercise machines and the Mads prepare us for ROCK CLIMBING. Joel is forced into the theater without presenting his invention. B-
- Hugh Beaumont brings a message of unholy death. A+
- Joel, Tom, and Crow present The Explorers: drop personal pronouns or die! B-
- The gang sees a really cool thing outside. (Contest alert!) C
- Joel and the Bots share little-known facts about the film. C+
- STINGER Hugh and Chick have a smoke and a talk before bed. C
- Chick Chandler, here playing Cesar Romero’s “number one,” is perhaps better known to MSTies as Wilbur, the decidedly gay angel from 701’s hilarious short, Once Upon A Honeymoon.
- Acquanetta, the supposedly-but-not-really-Venezuelan actress who portrayed the native woman, was apparently more articulate than she implied in this film. She released a book of poetry in 1974.
- Attempted comic reliever Sid Melton appeared on The Danny Thomas show, as implied by the guys. He also played the role of Alf Monroe on the surprisingly witty Green Acres. Yes, that’s his real face.
- Star Cesar Romero was quite a popular actor at the time, having appeared in 3-4 dozen movies prior to this one. He would appear in several dozen more after Lost Continent, even appearing as a recurring character on ’70s TV series Alias Smith And Jones – which starred none other than our own Ben Murphy. Hoo-HA!
- Michael Sarrazin, mentioned in the “Explorers” host segment, is… um, well, it’s not terribly interesting. This is your best bet for further information.
- Rock climbing. More padding than even Cy Roth himself could muster.
- Hugh Beaumont, horseman of the apocalypse. Seriously, this is one of the most entertaining ideas to come out of the series. Mike Nelson does an excellent job with the role and they do a good job of making him and his set appear to be black and white.
- The manhandling of Sid Melton, while being hoisted up the mountain. “They’re touching kids’ butts up there!”
- “The boys you train to fly, what are they like today?” | “Oh, they’re dead.”
- “I always said I’d never die in a plane.” | “But I’ve changed my mind.” | [later] “As I was telling that other guy, I never wanted to die in a plane, but now I’m very excited about it!”
- “Let’s form a soccer team and eat each other!”
- “Not since Andy Warhol’s Empire State has a camera stayed in one place for so long.”
- “What happened?” | “He loved too much.”
- “At least we won’t freeze tonight.” | “Are you coming on to me?”
- “Filmed in Katherine Hepburn Vision!”
Padding. A film that is 40-50% padding. It will drain the life from you, if you’re not careful. It has an effect similar to watching an Adam Sandler movie marathon, only without the benefit of an occasional Steve Buscemi. Padding, kids. Padding. She’s a harsh mistress. Fairly amusing episode, though.
FINAL GRADE: C+