Sometimes your personal enjoyment of a movie is fully dependent on when and where you see it. After paying full ticket and concession prices to view 2003’s Open Water in a movie theater, I felt completely butt-raped by the experience. With strained acting, amateurish direction, and a complete lack of narrative momentum, Open Water is one of those movies I might have enjoyed on a lonely Friday night after a bag of Lay’s and a couple of sixers, but to pay full price to see it in the theater just felt like a kick in my movie-loving balls. But that sword cuts both ways, as evidenced in the case of The Lost Tribe, a fluffy little monster movie that would almost certainly be deemed an epic failure if viewed in the movie theater. But on a lazy, rainy Saturday morning, when served alongside a bacon & spinach omelet and a hot cup of joe, The Lost Tribe goes down surprisingly smooth.
A handful of yuppie investors are yachting somewhere in the North Atlantic when they stumble upon a crazy man clinging to a floating log. They haul him aboard, but the dude is freaking out, screaming incoherently and shit, so they jack him with a syringe of sedative. In the middle of the night as everybody sleeps (the boat is apparently on “auto-pilot”), the crazy man wakes up, breaks out through a port hole, and steers the ship into an island. After the ensuing boat wreck, the yuppies are trapped on the island with 1) a bunch of hairy, heart-eating ape creatures and 2) a sadistic military leader played by (who else?) Lance Henriksen.
The Lost Tribe attempts to hide its weaknesses (a lame script; uneven pacing) behind a series of relative strengths (gorgeous locations in Panama; intermittently interesting creature attacks), and for the most part the bait-and-switch succeeds. The missing link monsters swoop down from trees in a couple of scary lady-snatching scenes, and some of the kills are giddy, gory fun. As with any successful B-movie effort, some of the more overwrought moments––like a “please mercy kill me because I’m mortally wounded” scene that seems to go on forever––are gut-achingly funny. It may take awhile to get revved up, and it rips off Predator every chance it gets, but there’s no denying that The Lost Tribe wants to be a solid B-grade effort. It’s got that “Let’s make a movie!” exuberance that’s missing from most studio efforts. Set your expectations to “low” and it may very well satisfy your creature feature fix.
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