Bad ‘anthropological’ movie reviews

Most folks who know me know that I LOVE bad movies. There’s a limit, but with the right crew watching a film with you, some of the worst plots, strangest special effects and annoying characters can become downright hilarious.  When I lived in Missouri our Anthropology Club used to host C.A.V.E.s – Cheesy Anthropology Video Evenings. We’d all get together and watch movies that loosely related to anthropology and mock them together (case in point 1) – trucks blow up in an Indiana Jones film and someone says ‘yeah, that happened at my field school too!’). I’m sure there are medical practitioners who get together and do this for medical TV shows as well – it turns the agonizing into the hilarious to watch these films with other specialists. Some of these are easy enough to find, but there are many gems out there worth your time, which you may never have heard of.

Today I would like to recommend “The Lost Tribe” (2010 – this date matters). I watched this with a paleontologist friend and we giggled from end to end. It was free with his Amazon Prime membership, so if you have that, this schaudenfreude will cost you nothing!

In 2008/9 a movie was produced under several different names: The Forgotten Ones, The Tribe, and After Dusk They Come.  You can watch the trailer here. You might recognize Jewel Staite (Kaylee on Serenity/Firefly).  It has a 9% like rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  So the next year someone else decided to remake the movie and release it in theaters. THE NEXT YEAR! THAT is The Lost Tribe. 21% of viewers on Rotten Tomatoes like it, and it has a lower IMDB rating than the original.

The anthropological premise of The Lost Tribe is gloriously convoluted. The actual plot of the movie is straightforward: friends/lovers on a boat crash onto an island where evil creatures voraciously attack and kill most of them. The anthropological premise is a bit less clear.  Archaeologists are excavating a hominid species unique to this locale.  The skulls are surprisingly well preserved for the mud they are sitting in, and their excavation techniques are unique. According to their video journal the Catholic church is going to FLIP OUT AND DESTROY THEM for what they have finally proved which has never been proven before (though it is never made clear what this is).  Their computer also does some really neat analysis for a field site laptop – you know, like all movie anthropologists do.  They throw in some jargony sounding nonsensical explanations for what’s going on…and then they disappear. At some point you do see a priest, but his role is never made clear.  MEANWHILE we discover that the species on the island did not go extinct, it still lives there. It’s bipedal, hairy and evil. Oh, and it can jump straight up in the air about 100 feet. MAD EVOLVING SKILLZ. No explanation for why our relatives became killer carnivores on this island. No explanation for their joy in disemboweling humans, or leaping through the forest.  I’d ask the archaeologist, but she disappeared too early in the film. This lost ‘tribe’ is never shown in any sort of social situation – they don’t talk to each other or interact that I recall. I’d like to see another film from their perspective. What is ‘village life’ like on this island?
As hilarious as the anthropology in this movie is, the rest of the plot is not without merit. I don’t want to spoil it, but rest assured the death scene in the cave is not to be missed.

The Forgotten Ones/After Dusk They come was just released on DVD and via download in October of this year, so I will have to watch that soon to see what their hominids looked like.

I strongly recommend this movie, but only if you watch it with a crew of folks who are into biology or anthropology and don’t mind yelling WHAT!?? at the screen with you.

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