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Image Entertainment presents
Lost Continent (1951)

"You're looking at a kind of world that hasn't existed in millions of years."
- Robert Phillips (Hugh Beaumont)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: December 06, 2001

Stars: Cesar Romero, John Hoyt, Hugh Beaumont, Chick Chandler, Sid Melton, Whit Bissell
Other Stars: Acquanetta, Hillary Brooke, Murray Alper, William E. Green
Director: Sam Newfield

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:23m:38s
Release Date: December 04, 2001
UPC: 014381921526
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

From Sam Newfield, the director of She's A He (1930), Danger! Women At Work (1943), She Shoulda Said No (1949 - aka The Devil's Weed aka Marijuana, the Devil's Weed aka Wild Weed), ten or twenty Lone Rider and Billy the Kid movies—in fact so many films that he had to go by two other aliases— comes The Lost Continent, an atomic age adventure of prehistoric proportions. This is apparently one of Newfield's best works, so take that for what it's worth. This should not be confused with the unrelated 1968 Hammer film of the same title, despite both sharing the same concept of pacing.

"It's almost like time forgot this place". - Rostov

After an experimental, nuclear-powered missile goes missing, a team of military men escort three scientists on a retrieval mission. Major Joe Nolan (Cesar Romero) pilots the aircraft used in the search along with copilot Lieutenant Danny Wilson (Chick Chandler) and mechanic Sergeant Willie Tatlow (Sid Melton). The scientific team is led by nuclear scientist Michael Rostov (John Hoyt) and his assistant, Robert Phillips (Hugh "Ward Cleaver" Beaumont). As they approach the region where the missile disappeared off radar screens, the plane suffers a technical malfunction and crash lands on a remote island. An English-speaking native girl (Acquanetta) informs them that the "fire bird" crashed into the sacred mountain, a taboo place no one has ever returned from. Off go our adventurers to the precipice in search of the rocket, but after a long (and I do mean long) ascent, they come across a strange world, where dinosaurs battle amidst fauna from the beginning of time.

"Climb every mountain..."

Okay, so that isn't in this film, but since a good third of the movie is spent showing our characters climbing the same styrofoam set prop from different angles, it is fitting. The pacing is pretty slow: the first twenty minutes is spent introducing the characters; the next twenty is spent having them climb up a mountain, and then jamming what little action there is into the remaining run time—all of which you would have seen in the trailer. Dialogue isn't completely throwaway, but does little to help; there's a five minute stretch where the best lines come one after another. We do get a nice plug for the American atomic bomb development team, and a hint that all Commies aren't bad Commies through the Russian scientist who happens to be working for the Americans—where's McCarthy when you need him? The actors do their bit serviceably, with horrified reactions to imaginary monsters and the grueling task of climbing the faux rock. There is some tension created between Romero and Hoyt, and Chandler adds some comic relief.

"There are always unpredictables." - Rostov

Of interest here are the primitive (pun intended), cheesy looking, stop-motion effects from Augie Lohman (The Longest Day, Barbarella)—though they beat passing off lizards as dinosaurs— and optical effects by Ray Mercer (Flesh Gordon, Pit and the Pendulum). Also, the tinted sequence was unusual for its time. The last half hour is reasonably engaging, but the lead-in is pretty tedious. Still, as an example of atomic age science fiction, it is nice to have available. Worth a watch for historic value, but most will be snoozing before the action begins.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: For the most part, image quality is surprisingly good, with respectable grayscale presentation, solid blacks and a fairly clean print. Aside from the usual specs and scratches, there are some major source defects, though these are infrequent, and wide horizontal bands which flash on screen and disappear quickly. This edition restores the tinted segment of the film, which hurts the black levels a bit. For its age, this looks quite acceptable, and better than I had expected. The print is the source of any problems.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Mono audio is pretty typical for a film of this vintage. A moderate amount of distortion, hiss, some pops, clicks, static and the occasional dropout add to the historic feel. Frequency range is limited as it should be, but not overly dominant in sibilance. I am not displeased with the result.

The alternate music-only track is of identical sonic quality.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Mesa Of Lost Women, Teenage Dolls, The Brain From Planet Arous, H.G. Wells' Things To Come, Cat Women Of The Moon
Isolated Music Score
Packaging: unknown keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Isolated musical score
Extras Review: The primary extra would be the isolated musical score.

The film's theatrical trailer is included, which exposes just about all the best bits from the movie. Like their other atomic age releases, trailers from five other Image releases are semi-hidden in the main menu under the atomic symbol. Visit the Mesa of Lost Women, Teenage Dolls, The Brain from Planet Arous, H.G. Wells' Things to Come and Cat Women Of The Moon. The trailers are better than the films!

The insert booklet includes an essay giving some historical perspective on the technology used in the film, and comments on its producers.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

"What's a little poisonous gas?" - Nolan

If you are looking for a landmark science fiction extravaganza, filled with memorable performances and unbelieveable special effects, then The Lost Continent is not for you. If, on the other hand, a little 1950s atomic age sci-fi, in all its dated and heavily fromaged goodness is your appetite, then this will serve you well. Not nearly as corny as it could be, it is still a far cry from good, which I suppose is a merit unto itself.


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