Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Quest for the Lost City aka The Final Sactrifice

The version I watched said 'Quest for the Lost City' on the titles, but this was the best cover art for it.

OK, OK, let's get the good bits out of the way first, that shouldn't take long. The cinematography here is pretty good: for a decidedly low budget flick, they never try to do anything beyond their means and it's preet well shot.

It's just a shame that the screenplay, plot, acting, etc. just wasn't anywhere near as good. At the time of writing, this film was the 14th worst rated on IMDb, which should give you some idea what we're dealing with. In truth, this is nowhere near as bad as that makes it sound; this film was given the MST3K treatment and as such got far more exposure than it otherwise would've done. Were it not for this, it'd surely merely be wallowing amongst the 'rubbish' rather than the 'shockingly awful'.

Hero Troy, look pensive

I'll have to break this into two halves; as my opinion changed quite dramatically halfway through. At first, and for a good 30 minutes of its 78 minutes, I really couldn't understand why this was made. Budget films tend to aim towards a niche; you have cheap gore films - made by fans of gory films for fans of gory films -, exploitation flicks - more often than not with added nudity to attract an otherwise uninterested audience, etc. etc. What I'm getting at is that you can usually tell roughly who a low budget film is made for.

Bad guys! With weapons!
Here, however, I was completely puzzled. A boy (I really have no idea how old he was supposed to be...) called Troy discovers his dead father's archaeology file and finds a map to a Lost City, no sooner has he done so, than mysterious baddies turn up at his house with the intention of retrieving it. So far, so sub-Indiana-Jones-good. But who watches sub-Indiana Jones adventures? It was clear that it had never been anywhere near a cinema and you could hardly imagine (at this stage) anyone, child or adult, getting terribly excited about it on vhs...

Bad Guys! With weapons! In car! Oh, the trauma!

Some while after Troy has teamed up with the ageing, moustachioed Zap Rowsdower (!) however, things take a turn for the more bonkers as it emerges that they are battling a weird cult (who killed Troy's dad, no less) who are descendants of a pre-American Indian hyper-intelligent civilization who er... mysteriously died. Taking their fabulous, 'better-than-anything-in-Egypt' city with them. These rifle and chainsaw wielding descendants, lead by the impossibly deep-voiced 'Satoris', are trying to sacrifice enough people to the idol, so as to restore their city. Mmmm....right, Ok then.

At this point, yes it is still sub-Indiana Jones (and it will continue to be) but at least it's a bit more fun. We've had balaclava-wearing baddies chasing our heroes through the words, revelations about Zap's past and an implausably easy 'secret' map key (Honestly: you draw a big cross on the map. Where the lines make an 'x', that's where you want to go...). I am beginning to wonder about this Lost City however (a Lost City surely always deserves capital letters, no?). Perhaps the reason that most films that I've seen use distant and exotic locations is that, as an ignorant Western audience, we know so little about the places that it seems quite possible that someone wandering through a jungle could stumble upon a previously long-lost civilization (hey, that's more or less what happened with Machu Picchu...). It seems that little bit less likely that a mega-city is going to turn up in Canada. So, at this point I begin to wonder: the film is only called Quest for the Lost City. Quest is no guarrantee that it'll turn up... could they really be that cheap as to trick me out of my Lost City? How dare they...

I won't reveal anything about how the ending is acchieved, but I will say this: they come up with the goods on the Lost City and, even more extraordinary, it's pretty good and convincing.

This film is not a masterpiece but neither is it deserving of it's record-breaking disdain. The plot is basically rubbish and the acting is functional at best, but it does carefully avoid overstretching itself, a weakness often found in cheap films. However unconvincing what's actually going on is, visually it is always convincing. You get the sense that with a bit of cash for better cameras and some effects, this would be quite a pretty films.

Of course, you could throw as much money at it as you like, but the plot would still be rubbish...

[Sadly I can't find a trailer. The MST3K version is on youtube, but that's just not the same]

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