Sunday, October 2, 2011


Today's subject: Movies I'd Like to Make - Return to the Land of the Lost.

    Many a viewer felt the Will Farrell comedy based on the classic 70's Saturday morning adventure series Land of the Lost was designed to offend those who loved the show, seen as ripping the throat out of their childhoods. Because of the title, its pretty difficult to look beyond the "screwing with a beloved classic" and taking the film on its own terms. Honestly, I don't know what Sid and Marty were thinking, as LAND OF THE LOST could have been one of the greatest science fiction adventure movies of all time. Having recently gone through the entire series, I have decided one of the Movies I'd Like to Make when I get the chance will be RETURN TO THE LAND OF THE LOST.

The plot:

     Two couples are out yachting. Mark Randall and his wife, Joan, and Cliff Hart and his wife, Sylvia. Mark and Cliff have just gone in together to buy the yacht currently being sailed, and girls are enjoying the voyage. Having lashed down the sail for the night, the men decide to play a little poker before turning in. The girls go topside to enjoy the sunset, but report that a strange fog is moving in. Mark and Cliff reach the deck and see a dense cloud moving across the surface of the water. "Doesn't look like any fog I've ever seen, looks more like a smoke screen." The fog drifts toward them. A waterfall is heard. The girls suddenly get dizzy and faint. The men shortly get dizzy too, lasting a little longer because they came on deck after the women. Cliff drops to the deck as Mark reaches for the flare gun. He tries to aim it, but falls to the deck before he can take any action.

   They are sucked into the Land of the Lost, which is this time built like the strange wonderland seen on the teleseries.

   The crew awakes in the swamp. They have no idea where they are or how they got there, but they're seeing living dinosaurs on the shore. LuLu, the two-headed sea serpent from the third season appears and attacks the boat. The men manage to fight it back long enough for Sylvia to turn the boat toward shore and beach the craft. Grabbing all the supplies they can think of, they leave the boat before LuLu can attack again. They must find shelter that can easily be defended. They are chased through the jungle by Grumpy, and the gang takes refuge in an open pylon. There, they discover Enik (and fortunately he speaks quickly enough that they don't shoot him), who gives them a little exposition ("You are not the first humans to enter the Land of the Lost, nor, I fear, will you be the last.") before taking them to the temple used as base camp in the third season of the show. Joan is confused, having heard the phrase "land of the lost" sometime in her childhood.

   In the ruins, Enik presents a large collection of notes prepared by the Marshalls before they left the Land of the Lost, a collection of notes prepared to bring the next stranded party up to speed. The Marshalls had been in the Land of the Lost five years before the "Pylon Express" took them home (at one point, Rick Marshall had found a way back into the express and eventually met up with Uncle Jack and the kids before the group managed to go home when the moons were in the right order once again. Since no one would believe him on the outside, thinking Rick had broken down after the kids were lost on the river, he had to read up on dimensional anomalies and find a way back himself, keeping the pylon express in mind the whole time). The notes lay out everything the Marshalls were able to learn about the Land of the Lost and the creatures that inhabit it, as well as a diorama of the explored areas to show how the land is formed.

   Once returned to the real world, Holly Marshall became a successful writer of children's books all about the Land of the Lost, which is why Joan remembers a few things, including Enik. Enik failed to return to his time on the express due to an anomaly he couldn't solve in time, but he may have found a way of forcing the express open sooner than due if he can find the proper sequence of crystals. On his own time board in his cave, Enik has reasoned the opening on the express into his time is blocked by a cataclysm, the one which possibly created the Land of the Lost. With the proper crystals, Enik may be able to control the passage of time and dimensional flux and return to his world early enough to prevent the disaster. He can also return his new friends to their proper time and close all the openings to the Land of the Lost.

   Cliff's radium dial watch turns out to be the missing component in Enik's locator, and Enik discovers the locations of the assorted crystals needed to operate the flux controller. The party then splits up and searches the indicated areas of the Land of the Lost, looking for the crystals (including the snowy lair of the yeti creature and that dark foggy area where Marvin Milner's ship was destroyed). Chaka, who has taken a vow to help all humans, also joins up (Jack had helped Chaka build a bridge across the ravine that cut him off from the other Pakuni). Meanwhile, the Sleestack learn of Enik's plan and try to prevent it, knowing that they would cease to exist if Enik's plan works.

   Toss in the desired amount of stop-motion dinosaur action and you're good to go. And yes, since they were on a sailing vessel, Joan and Sylvia spend the entire film in their bikinis. Its the film that's fun for everyone! Now, where can I get my hands on about 17 million dollars.......


  1. Hey Rock, I always heard that a comic book is plotted, drawn then written. Is this true? If you submitted your Land of the Lost plot to another artist he would draw it, then hand it back to you, then you would write the dialogue to fit the art. Not that you would ever hand off the art. I'm just using your plot as an example.

  2. Sometimes, yes. I understand the plot-art-write format is the SOP for Marvel comics. Sometimes, though, everything is layed out for you with a panel by panel description in the script. A typical example might be like this.....


    Panel One - Tracy enters the room and looks to the map on the wall. She is taking off her jacket as she moves into the room.

    Panel Two - Tracy continues to eye the map as she tosses her jacket onto the bed.

    Panel Three - Closer, as she puts her hand to her chin and studdies the northern area of the map.

    Now you would have lines and everything added in, but that's basically what a normal script is like. Under the plot-first system, the page would be described as "Tracy enters her room (removing her jacket) and notices the map on the wall. She tosses her jacket onto the bed as she studies the map more intently." There might also be a note on how many panels would work best if the editor/writer has something in mind.

    Personally, I'm much more fond of drawing from a rough outline, as it frees me up to be creative. Panel by panel descriptions that get too detailed tend to suck a lot of the life out of my art, so a happy medium would be about like the passage I wrote above. This is something we discovered at AC a while back, and I've been given a few plot-first assignments since. So far, everyone is happy with the results.

  3. Wow, I guess an editors job is to balance the writer/ artist team. Not even mentioning the inker and letterer.
    Thanks for the insight.