The Lost World
Not to be confused with the Steven Spielberg-directed blockbuster, this 1925 silent adaptation of an Arthur Conan Doyle story, re-released this month, is instead the obvious inspiration for both Spielberg's hit and its predecessor, Jurassic Park. Wallace Beery plays a scientist convinced of the existence of living dinosaurs in the Amazon. Mocked by society, he leads a mixed expedition (which includes a young couple and a renowned big-game hunter) to a jungle plateau where the Jurassic Age is still in progress. Eventually, a botched attempt to bring a dinosaur back to civilization leads to destruction on a grand scale. Willis O'Brien, who would later go on to create an even more famous gargantua in King Kong, provides the impressive, groundbreaking stop-motion effects here. Though technologically outmoded, O'Brien's creations are still convincing, particularly in the final scenes of a confused brontosaurus (!) running amok in London. Already an extremely entertaining film, this sharp video version does the movie further justice with its many extras, including the original trailer, some excised scenes reconstructed through the use of stills, and the inclusion of several prehistoric-themed stop-motion exercises from Thomas Edison's studios.