Lost Tapes: Season 1 (2008)
REVIEW: It's no secret that we here at the B-Movie Shelf love us the Found Footage genre. Sure, there are some big stinkers to come across, but when done right, that style of filmmaking can be effective as hell plus cheap to produce, so everyone can win. Being a 14-episode TV season, it's safe to assume that Lost Tapes Season 1 includes both ends of the spectrum, and pretty much every step in between as well.
But before I really get into the review, I just want to first mention that this review is a pretty big milestone here on the blog by officially being the B-Movie Shelf's 100th review! And while there are no doubt better titles I probably could have done as the 100th Review, I'm really glad all the same that it's a title that comes with it's own little milestone - the very first TV Show review for us here on the B-Movie Shelf! Having been put out by Animal Planet of all channels, you can assume correctly that the episode-to-episode budget on this show is pretty miniscule, which taking that into account as well as the subject matter, makes for the perfect TV show to review on a B-Movie review site!
However, such a tiny budget also means hardly even a blink-and-you'll-miss-it glance (if even that much) of the creature-of-note each episode, but luckily most times they make up for that by at least having good creepy atmosphere and fast-paced action, along with some growls, hisses, roars, and whatever other auditory noises they can throw in to add tension. As with pretty much any TV show, some episodes pull it off far better then others, so your view in the show could be drastically different, depending on which episodes you catch on TV. Unless of course, like me, you come across the full 2-disc first season on DVD in the 6.99 bin at Wal-Mart, in which case you can just pile through all 14 of the episodes in close to one or two sittings, seeing as how it's such a light show that's easy to digest, and every episode is totally stand-alone from one another.
Anybody who has ever watched an episode of Survivorman or Man vs Wild or any of those types of shows always find themselves wondering at some point “Man, what if he came across some unknown creature while out there?” Well, this episode caters to those exact people, and overall the results are pretty realistic, playing out exactly like how an episode of Survivorman or Man vs Wild would have had the Host been attacked and the episode was actually allowed to air. My two issues with this though is, to start, even though the creature turned out to be an extinct dinosaur-like animal called the Megalania...that creature looks identical to a Komodo Dragon, so why pick that one? Pretty much every Jungle is filled with all sorts of their own mythical creature legends, including some good dinosaur ones, so why did they go with this mundane-looking ancient reptile that looks identical to one of our already regular animals? It was fine and all, don't get me wrong, but I would have preferred something that actually looked a little bit more unique. My other beef is, once again, we never even get so much as a glimpse of the animal. I understand these episodes are super low budget and we never really get good looks at anything, but quick and short glimpses like in the first two episodes is perfectly fine and all I expect, but these latest two episodes don't even give us that much – they literally give us nothing whatsoever. Other than those quibbles though, this was one of the more entertaining episodes yet, despite also being centered around just one character like the previous episode was. This one is how you pull it off successfully, while that one was just a bore. Episode Rating: 8/10
As you can probably tell, I didn't like this episode. At all. Everyone has their theories on the Sasquatch, aka Bigfoot, and that's cool and all, but the one I dislike the most is the very one this episode decided to go with – that the Sasquatch is a supernatural and intelligent protector of the nature realm or some such thing like that. Bigfoot is one of my personal favorite cryptids and I was really anticipating a nice creepy episode with this, and while there was one or two minor semi-creepy moments of hearing the Bigfoot's call in the distance, that's all you get as the episode focused almost entirely on the Park Ranger and Poacher's little cat and mouse game with each other, and then when Bigfoot finally does show up at the very end (which once again we never even get so much as a quick glimpse, it all happens off-screen), it's the exact opposite of creepy and just plain lame. If there's one episode you must skip on this set for whatever reason, make sure it's this one. Episode Rating: 1/10
This is the Bigfoot-esque episode I had wanted the previous Bigfoot episode to be like (though it's more like Florida's Skunk Ape then a traditional Sasquatch, but the two are close enough). No superhero woodland critters here, no sir! A group of people lost in the wilderness, catching glimpses of a smelly hairy creature stalking them, they hear some howls in the air, and then when they set up camp for the night, the beast aggressively attacks, giving us one of my favorite episode climax scenes yet seeing as how whenever I went camping as a child I would always imagine some dark savage creature ripping open the side of the tent and attacking us. This is the kind of episode that this show was made for, and it's too bad that it took until it's second Bigfoot-esque episode to give us something as atmospheric and creepy as this. Fans of the Season 1 DVD cover art, take note, as this is the episode that goes with that cover art. Episode Rating: 10/10
Unfortunately a lot of it comes a bit undone by the dreadful acting, espespecially during the FBI Investigation scenes. Not quite as bad as what it was like in Cave Demons, but a pretty close second. Also, the majority of this episode is actually the previously-mentioned stock news footage and photos of the real event, and not quite so much new originally-shot footage so it comes across almost more like a mini-documentary then it does a fictional faux-found footage episode. Episode Rating: 6/10