LOST CONTINENT (1951)
PreCommentary: “Lost Continent”?: there isn’t one: just a mountainon an island. Footage from this was used later in a Twilight Zone segment. The following summary contains bracketed asidesfrom the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of thefilm (#208). E.g., [Joel: “Lost Continent? I lost my keysonce but that’s ridiculous!”].
Notes: RobertL. Lippert presents
Acquanetta [Tom Servo: “snot is runningdown her nose.”]
“the title star from ‘Rocketship X-M,’
and lots of rock climbing.”
Screenplay: Richard Landau
Story: Carroll Young
Producer: Sigmund Neufeld
Director: Samuel Newfield
Summary: At the White Sands, New Mexico Proving Grounds–a government militarybase–a rocket launching yields masculine numerical blab aboutmph and so on. “She’s right on course.” We get shotsof machinery which presumably served as aphrodisiacs to youngmen of 1951 (and the Top Gun ’80s). But the rocket (presumablystock footage from the film Rocketship X-M, also treatedby MST3K, #201) does not turn back when it should, and crashessomewhere vaguely South Pacificky. [“So that’s what Warddoes at the office.”]
Cut to Cesar Romero (Major Nolan) chattingup Hillary Brooke, the hideous shoulder-padded dyed-blonde fromso many Abbott and Costello films who archetypally repulsed meagainst ’40s semi-women since I was 7. [Crow: “Mrs. Roosevelt’slookin’ fine!”] She keeps him drooling about “the boys”and we listen to him drone on about how much “brain power”is required of aeronautic murderers these days, equivalent toMIT and Carnegie Tech. The dynamics between these two is irrational. She wants him to keep blabbing about military crap instead ofanything else at 2:30 in the morning, yet they soon dance to arecord. [Joel: “Give to Cesar what is Cesar’s.” Crow:”Oh, you taste like Bud Abbot!”] Romancus interruptusas a sergeant announces he must report back to the base.
We now get the series of experts all beingsummoned similarly. One guy kisses his uniform prematurely beforebeing called back. [Tom Servo: “Everyone talks to inanimateobjects in this movie.”] Sid Melton (Willie) chats to his”sweetheart,” the plane to which he is the mechanicbefore being summoned. Three scientists (Hugh Beaumont, a Wally-Cox-lookingguy, and Rostov who seems to have a German accent which wouldmake a lot of sense but whose accent it turns out is supposedto be Russian) and the military idiots all appear on a plane,Willie serving coffee. When they fly over the area where therocket disappeared, the pilots lose control of the plane and itcrash lands on an island. [“Hey, we landed on a witch. Maybe the film will be in color. . . .” “Let’s forma soccer team and eat each other!”]
On first emerging from the plane, the Germanwho thinks he’s a Russian says, “Doesn’t look too forbidding;seems rather peaceful.” Goddamned nature-loving Kraut-Commie! Nolan responds bitchily: “Talk to some of our guys who crashedin New Guinea during the war. Headhunters, cannibals. This placemight be a park, but I’m not gonna depend on it. Break out theguns and ammunition. [“It’s time for a celebration.”] Sergeant, round up what food we have. . . . Take only the essentialthings. Looks like we might be camping out for a while.” Note the priorities.
These six Elmer Fudds warily wander thwoughthe jungle and come upon a shabby grass hut village. [“Ifyou don’t understand it, shoot it.”] “What do you makeof that?” “Maybe we’re being set up for pigeons.” How is this supposed to have worked? Natives with grass huttechnology somehow mystically crashed their plane on this islandand are waiting with their deadly Indonesian chickens?
Only Acquanetta and her fat younger brotherinhabit the village. [“It’s a Gaugin still-life! Shootit!”] Daddy died and the rest are gone because “firebird fly over village. . . . People frightened; leave in boats.” The patronizing Americans find out roughly where the rocket crashed,but “sacred mountain taboo. . . . You will not come back. Home of gods.”
Rock climbing! More rock climbing! [Crow:”Why are we watching this dull mountain climbing sequence?” Joel: “Well, because it’s there.”] At night from theshelter of an overhang, the Russian sees a little lizard whichwe’re supposed to think is big. Nolan doesn’t believe in this”monster I’ve never seen before.”
Rock climbing. [Tom: “You know, evenrock climbing movies don’t have this much rock climbing.”] The out-of-shape Wally Cox scientist falls into the clouds despiteRostov’s attempt to help him. Now Cesar Romero really reallydoesn’t trust this guy. More rock climbing.
We finally reach the land of greenish tintingwhich Willie says is “sort of like a, a, lost continent!” Hugh Beaumont’s geiger counter indicates that this rock pilepassing for a continent is full of uranium. The subterraneanpressure is “as powerful as a stockpile of hydrogen bombs.” And there is pontless comment that the whole mission regardingthis rocket will send us all “back into a world such as thisone.” The futuristic/prehistoric connection is common inCold War allegory, such as the ’80s Transformers cartoonopening credits.
We’re supposed to think Willie is a hoot. Swatting a mosquito, he says, “I’m starving to death andthat thing’s been feeding off of me for four hours like I wassomethin’ sent up from room service.”
We find dinosaur tracks. Ward Cleaver says,”I’ve seen tracks like these before . . . at a museum.” The Joker is in nasty denial. But then we see a brontosauruswhich trumpets like an elephant and charges the humans for noreason. [Joel: “Turns out I’m an herbivore. These guysgot nothin’ to worry about.” Tom: “I see a dinosaurbut I hear an elephant.”] They run, but Ward is slower andclimbs a tree, prompting my standard question: when you’re runningfrom a vegetarian, is it a good idea to try to hide in the saladbar? The rest shoot repeatedly at the dino. Nolan: “Thatthing’s got more armor than a tank.” With bloodied headthe dinosaur runs off. [Tom: “Hey, does this movie havea continental breakfast?” Crow: “No, they lost thecontinental breakfast.”]
So there really are dinosaurs. Snarkinessensues. “What’s the matter with it; doesn’t it know it’ssupposed to be dead?” Willie has erotic and vocally articulateddreams of a plane when he is supposed to be on guard. Rostovand Cleaver (okay, Phillips) have disappeared, but we soon findout that Ward has trapped his leg among some rocks and Rostovis trying to help him silently, and not kill him after all, despitea dangerous triceratops nearby. [Crow: “It’s the mother-lovin’rubber dinosaur of them all!”] The animal discovers themand charges. Nolan shouts, “Shoot for the eyes.” Butanother triceratops appears in the periphery and the two fightinstantly for no reason until one is fatally stabbed in the neck.
Nolan acknowledges without apologizing thathe owes Rostov an apology. It turns out the Russian has a tragicstory regarding prison camps and dead family. Vague non-politicalsanctimony somehow reinforces the militaristic bullet-headed Saxonmother’s-son mentality of the film. Joe (whoever) swaggeringlysays, “If I see any more of those fugitives from the zoo,I just walk up to ’em and kill ’em with spit.” We all questiongiving up the search and don’t.
A pterodactyl appears and Willie says, “Say,I wonder if a piece of that big buzzard would make good eatin’.” So they shoot it. They can’t find where its corpse landed butstumble upon the rocket with two brontos and a triceratops loiteringnearby. “Big slob. Get away from there.” [Crow: “Brainthe size of a walnut.” Joel: “What the dinosaurs?” Crow: “No, the director.”] They’re low on ammo, butshoot meaninglessly into the air until the dinos wander off. The two remaining scientists climb inside and retrieve deep junk. But a triceratops has snuck up on Willie from behind and goreshim despite more shooting.
Quick cut [“That was a short mourningperiod!”] to the four remaining men about to climb rocks,downwards this time. An earthquake begins to shower rocks downon them: “The whole mountain’s blowing up under us.” The camera jiggles and they run to a boat (don’t ask) and row. [Tom: “Hey, didn’t they come by plane?”] The islandblows up to the tune of stock footage of atomic blasts. [Crow:”Get away! The stock footage is erupting!] The final linesinclude the phrase, “The world coming to an end,” andsomething else indecipherable. The End.