Monday, April 16, 2007

The Lost World – Vampires – review

Directed by: Catherine Millar/Richard Franklin

First aired: 1999

Contains spoilers

What to say about this? The Lost World was a TV series that ran 3 seasons and was, presumably, very loosely based on the works of Conan Doyle as some of the character names are the same. I must admit it was a series I never saw.

A DVD is available, from the series, called vampires. It has a running time of 83 minutes and, thus, it is logical to assume two episodes put together and that they are both vampire episodes, likely interrelated but possibly stand-alone.

Not so. There are two episodes but they are not divided with episode titles and the first one has nothing to do with vampires. The second is a vampire episode, which some investigation revealed is from season 1 and entitled “Blood Lust”. However this has a non-vampire sub-story with other characters and so the vampiric elements are reduced further. I’m going to go through the whole lot of the vampire plot as there isn’t much there.

The vampire story we get sees Professor George Challenger (Peter McCauley), Lord John Roxton (William Snow) and Marguerite (Rachel Blakely) in a balloon, having an explore. They set down to camp and Roxton goes to look for firewood. He sees a young man come out of the woods and it looks as though he is set to attack. Roxton pulls his gun and the man drops to the floor as though ill.

Roxton goes over to help him when the man grabs him and bites him. He manages to push the guy off him and Challenger shoots the attacker. Roxton is left with a rather large bite mark. He touches the wound and then tastes his own blood. They bury the body, so the smell of carrion doesn’t attract beasties, and then Marguerite stumbles over the corpse of a large tiger. It has bites in the neck and there is no blood – the man was obviously a vampire quips Marguerite.

Logic now begs that I ask, if they buried the man to prevent his flesh attracting predators, why didn’t they bury the tiger, which couldn’t be more than five yards away?

Roxton is on watch but something is wrong. We know this because the camera does a pull back and zoom. He wanders into Marguerite’s tent and starts getting, shall we say, lustful with her. His overtures become more aggressive and her protestation brings Challenger a-running. Roxton throws him aside and legs it.

We see Roxton in the woods when he sees a dinosaur and gets his knife out. Challenger and Marguerite are tracking him and actually pass him by as he hides in the undergrowth slurping on dinosaur blood.

Next we see Roxton exit the forest and, low and behold, there’s a bloomin’ Hammer horror type castle. Looking down from the castle is a woman, Calista (Shanyn Asmar), who is suddenly beside him and kisses him. In her blue dress she too looks like she has just walked out of a Hammer movie. He asks where he is and she says home.

They enter the castle and she gives him a glass of blood. He has a pain in his chest and she informs him that the transformation has begun. She also says that some would call it a disease he has contracted but she says it is a gift. His eyes become a vivid orange and the colour of his vision changes. His senses have sharpened and his reactions are quicker. He and Calista get down to some rumpy pumpy.

Meanwhile Challenger and Marguerite have found the sucked on dinosaur, noticed a boot print and realise the deed was done by Roxton.

Roxton seems to like the night, revel in it even. Calista warns him that one day he’ll turn on her, when instinct overwhelms reason and that her father had contracted the disease, devoured her family but only bitten her. She killed her father. Suddenly Roxton can smell his mates and so goes out to them and tells them to leg it.

Calista isn’t happy and holds a crossbow on him until such time as he is hungry enough to hunt them. It mustn’t have taken long because the next thing we see is Roxton on the hunt. A bit of a scuffle and Challenger knocks him out. Challenger then decides he has to poison the infection out and feeds Roxton Belladonna – which eventually does the trick.

Roxton is an unhappy bunny as he kind of liked being a vampire. Indeed Marguerite says he seems a bit miffed despite being brought back from the living dead (okay that was a leap in scripting). They head back to the castle and Roxton goes in alone. He tries to convince Calista to take the cure but she attacks. They end up on a balcony and she pulls a gun but is shot from below by Challenger. She falls to the floor and seems to go hazy and vanish in a badly executed dusting scene. Fin.

Not a lot of story and confused. Was it a disease or was it supernatural? If it was a disease how did she teleport and, indeed, vanish when she died? If it was supernatural why did the belladonna work as a cure? How can one of these vampires take out a tiger or a dinosaur and yet fail to take out a couple of humans – even armed with guns? What was a castle from a Hammer film doing out there anyway? Now that they have found a Hammer castle, and killed the occupant, what is the betting that they’ll continue living in wood huts in the jungle?

If you are a fan of the series I guess this could be worthwhile, though on the strength of what I’ve seen I won’t be looking to watch any more episodes. If you are a vampire fan and see the DVD for sale or hire be warned; you are not getting much of a vampire story and it is only about 2/5ths of the running time. As a vampire DVD: 1 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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