Right behind any projected Hollywood blockbuster come the knock-offs. In the case of Jurassic Park, Roger Corman crafted Carnosaur, a solid schlock gore fest directly ripping the premise of Spielberg's adaptation. With Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong, we've been given King of the Lost World.
Billing itself as "The epic story that inspired King Kong and Jurassic Park," King of the Lost World is neither. How this could have "inspired" anything is a mystery since it rips off every hidden/lost island movie ever made.
It all starts with one of the worst plane crashes you'll ever witness on film. After blowing up and taking part of a mountainside with it, the cast and crew are revealed on a plane that doesn't even have so much as a spark spewing from it. It's the miracle of a B-movie budget that anyone survived.
Of course, the newest inhabitants to the island are welcomed by being devoured one by one. Giant spiders, scorpions, man-eating vines, a giant gorilla, natives, and a few dragons (which makes about as much sense as saying this inspired anything) pick off the crash victims slowly but surely.
Outside of the vines, everything is done via low budget computer-generated effects. Low budget may not even suffice here. The giant gorilla, whose mug is plastered on the front of the box, snags around eight minutes total of screen time. That's a positive aspect, as it's impossible to tell what's going on. Excessive motion blur, impossible physics, choppy animation, and the fact that the monkey ends up out of frame half the time don't help.
The human characters have been plucked from every other "island" movie you've seen: The mysterious stranger that holds the key to the entire film (played straight by Bruce Boxleitner), the hero type (Jeff Denton), the stuck up girl, and of course the group that refuses to go along with the most common sense plan of escape. Given the studio's other recent attempts at ripping off Hollywood blockbusters (Pirates of Treasure Island), it's no surprise how this turned out.
Aside from compression artifacts coming through a few too many times, this is a solid transfer. It's soft and lacking slightly in detail, but for a lower budgeted production, this is decent transfer work. In actuality, the transfer ends up hurting the film since the special effects become painfully obvious, more so than they would have with an awful picture.
More in line with a direct-to-video feature, the audio is inexcusable. It's constantly fluctuating in volume, making it impossible to either hear conversations or not go deaf. It's a shame, too, since there's some exceptional directional work, like a moment before a giant spider munches on a victim, it spins around the actors and the sound field. It's a shame it's impossible to appreciate because of the volume problems.
Surprisingly, there's a decent set of extras on the disc. A behind-the-scenes feature runs a little over eight minutes and features Bruce Boxleitner extensively on and off set. A feature on the special effects shows what we all knew was true: a guy in his garage did all the CGI. There's discussion on how things change due to the budget, how much time they have to complete the tasks, and what the focus will be.
Three minutes of outtakes are hard to hear, and the majority are only mildly amusing. Finally, a packed commentary filled with information, jokes, and general ribbing from a section of the cast is more entertaining than any of the real dialogue. It's a robust feature set for such a low end film.
Asylum has no care as to how often they rip off big studio films. War of the Worlds was released at the same time as Tom Cruise's large budgeted alien invasions epic. The DaVinci Treasure is self-explanatory. When a Killer Calls took the remake of When a Stranger Calls to a new low, and staying with their usual remake rip-offs, 666: The Child took care of The Omen redux.