“Science can accomplish ANYTHING!”
Director: Harry Revier
Starring: William “Stage” Boyd, Kane Richmond, Claudia Dell, Eddie Fetherstone, Billy Bletcher, Josef Swickard, George “Gabby” Hayes, Margot D’Use, Jerry Frank, Sam Baker, William Millman, Ralph Lewis, Milburn Morante
Screenplay: Zelma Carroll, George M. Merrick, Robert Dillon, Eddie Granemann, Leon D’Usseau and Perley Poore Sheehan
[Click here for Part 1]
The story so far: The world is being lashed by violent electrical storms that cause floods, quakes, and other destruction. Electrical engineer Bruce Gordon invents a device that allows him to track the source of the disturbances to Africa: he sets out on an expedition accompanied by his assistant, Jerry Delaney, and by Professor Reynolds and Dr Colton, two scientists who are secretly in search of riches. In the Lost City of the Ligurnians, Zolok, the last of his race, forces scientist Dr Manyus to work towards his evil scheme of destroying the world: as part of this, he has natives transformed into giant, mindless slaves. Others, including Butterfield, who commands a local tribe, and Ben Ali, a slave-trader, want the secret of giant-making. Bruce and his party fall into Zolok’s clutches, but escape with the help of Manyus’s daughter, Natcha. As Zolok tries to recapture the scientist, the others become prisoners of Ben Ali…
CHAPTER 7: SPIDER MEN
Goodness me. They were struggling to fill out their running-time. Here, the pre-chapter flashback goes all the way back to Gorzo ordering the giant to kill their Arab guard—almost four minutes of straight replay, with the only new footage showing Natcha – again – escaping by slipping under the edge of her tent.
Also, the title insists that the escaping Butterfield has ordered the natives to attack the camp, but if so, we haven’t seen it.
Eventually we get back to Bruce being grabbed by the giant, who starts to strangle him—
—but it’s okay, because Natcha hears his choking sounds and uses the paralysing-ray to save him.
Ah! – now we see Butterfield leading the natives towards the camp, but they haven’t arrived yet. So we’re eight minutes into a 17-minute-long chapter before we get anything new. Points for having the heroine save the hero, though.
Well. Considering that the Arabs all have guns and the natives only have spears, the latter’s attack is surprisingly successful. One Arab thinks grabbing Bruce is more important than joining the general fight, but that goes as you’d expect. Bruce and Natcha find Manyus – thank God! – but as they are still untying him they are caught by Ben Ali, who also considers this more important than the general slaughter going on a few yards away. Ben Ali grabs a handy sword; Bruce grabs another; and they dance around the tent waving the weapons at each other until Bruce trips. Lucky for him, Ben Ali closes in a rush, allowing him to grab his assailant and – of course – pop him one.
Bruce, Natcha and Manyus slip out of the tent and bump straight into Jerry. They escape the camp as the natives are polishing off the last few Arabs (!). Ben Ali is captured, and Butterfield rushes up to him, demanding to know where Manyus is. When Ben Ali says he doesn’t know, Butterfield – sigh – pops him one. He then sends the natives to “search jungle”.
And indeed, much wandering-in-the-jungle follows:
Bruce: “Pretty thick jungle ahead. We’ll have to cut a path. And look out for snakes!”
(I know. But he honestly doesn’t say “watch”.)
Jerry briefly morphs back into Odious Comic Relief mode here, making bad jokes and stuttering “B-b-b-bruce!” in terror when he sees some stock footage of a large python; though Bruce, to his credit, insists the snake won’t bother them if they leave it alone.
Meanwhile, Butterfield and his natives are tracking the party; while Zolok watches it all on TV before – sigh – sitting down to call Appolyn, who is still wandering around aimlessly somewhere in the vicinity. Ordered yet again to “get Manyus”, Appolyn protests that he is all alone with hostile natives everywhere, but Zolok bellow-repeats his orders and elicits a reluctant, “Yes, Master.”
By now Butterfield has spotted the others, but before the natives can catch up with them they have found the entrance to a village—one marked by dangling human skulls. The following natives see the skulls and run away screaming in terror, because of course they do. Butterfield tries to turn the tide but they rush past him heedless:
Butterfield [throwing a stick]: “I’ll kill ya! I’ll kill every last one of ya!”
We don’t doubt it.
The others, meanwhile, have entered the seemingly empty village, and now go inside the seemingly empty large central hut—only to find an unexplained giant sitting quietly on the far side of it. Manyus approaches him, and exclaims in surprise – though perhaps less surprise than we feel – “Hugo!”
At this moment, small figures begin to stir behind some bushes (or pot-plants); while Natcha, glancing up, discovers a huge spider-web and a gigantic spider overhead.
Jerry: “It’s alive!”
As the others cringe and Natcha screams, the giant spider drops towards them—
CHAPTER 8: HUMAN TARGETS
This is more like the cliffhanger at the beginning of Chapter 2: it’s still a lengthy flashback, but there is re-cutting of the footage to give us different angles on the entry to the village via “the Path of Skulls” and inside “the Hut of the Sacred Council”—so that, for instance, we get an overhead shot of the characters passing under the spiderweb, and get better glimpses of the people concealed around the hut.
And in fact the real cliffhanger happens now, with the web – or “web” – it’s obviously made of rope – dropping on the four. A number of pale-skinned, fuzzy-haired people then surge out from their hiding-places and start jabbing at their captives with their spears.
Then Gorzo suddenly appears from his place of hiding and orders the Spider Men – we haven’t been formally introduced yet, but apparently that’s who they are – to cease and desist. He announces that the captives are his friends, and that they must not be harmed.
So it’s okay, I guess.
Gorzo goes on to explain to the shaken captives that these people worship spiders, and that to kill one in their presence means death. Fair enough—except that the others didn’t kill a spider, or not that we saw; though by rights there should have been one inside the web-net when it dropped. So if anything happened to it, it was really the Spider Men’s own fault.
Hold on to your hats, people.
Gorzo addresses Manyus directly, gesturing at the Spider Men:
Gorzo: “Dr Manyus, you remember these creatures? They were all black once! – but your magic made them white!”
“I remember!” says Manyus after a moment, as if it had just slipped his mind. Gorzo gestures, and a native appears from somewhere and runs forward to kneel at Gorzo’s feet. They exchange a few words, which Gorzo translates for us:
Gorzo: “He wants to be made white, too!”
Manyus: “But I have no serum with me.”
Gorzo: “Ah, Dr Manyus, the Chief has a bottle of your serum! Now will you perform the operation?”
Natcha actually looks a little concerned about all this, and asks her father when, exactly, he performed this…magic. Manyus smiles and pats her hand: “A long time ago, before you were born,” he replies, which apparently makes it all hunky-dory.
And since this is obviously all very trivial in the overall scheme of things, the conversation soon turns to Gorzo, who did, after all, save their lives, but clearly has some ulterior motive. Jerry opines that he is too much at home with the Spider Men, to which Manyus replies that he believes himself to be one of them:
Natcha: “It makes me shudder even to think of it!”
Oh, that makes you shudder, does it? Fascinating. Bruce and Jerry promise they won’t let Gorzo bother her.
Gorzo has been eavesdropping on all this, but he gives no sign as he tells Manyus that the “subject” is ready. We see the native being placed on a makeshift operating table and wrapped in cloths, and everyone gathers around as Manyus prepares the injection. There is one cry of pain from the native, Manyus makes a hey-presto gesture, and—instant whitey.
The native jumps up, staring down at himself as if he can’t believe his eyes, and checks his reflection in a bowl of water just to be sure. And a wild celebration breaks out…
The others gather around Manyus, Natcha beaming with pride:
Bruce: “Dr Manyus, you’re a genius!”
Jerry: “Sure was unbelievable!”
Manyus: “Science can accomplish ANYTHING!”
With still half a chapter to fill to fill, we get the introduction of yet another new group of people: Butterfield returns to his compound to find it occupied by one Queen Rama – “the daughter of an Arabian slave-trader”; what, another one? – and how exactly does that make her a queen? – and her entourage. She, too, has heard about the black giants; and when Butterfield explains that his natives were afraid to enter the village of the Spider People in pursuit of Manyus, she responds that her Wangas are not:
Rama: “Then I could rule Africa!”
Butterfield: “We could rule Africa…”
On the startling grounds that Rama has known Butterfield long enough to know that he “plays square”, Rama orders the Wangas to obey him—though she also orders their leader to bring Manyus to her. Oh, and alive.
Meanwhile, in the spirit of sauce for the gander, Jerry eavesdrops on Gorzo’s conversation with the Chief of the Spider Men—the latter wanting to keep Manyus as his tribe’s medicine-man. Gorzo, however, intends carrying Manyus back to the Lost City, and compelling him to make him, Gorzo, “Big, and strong!”…after which he will marry Natcha.
She, therefore, must not be harmed; but the Chief, adds Gorzo casually, is at liberty to sacrifice Bruce and Jerry to the Spider God…
The Chief, Gorzo and Hugo go forth to where the other Spider Men are practising their archery for reasons that will soon become apparent, and round them up.
Bruce: “Doctor, that’s the greatest scientific discovery yet!”
Jerry comes rushing in with the news that at Gorzo’s prompting, he and Bruce are to be sacrificed. Furthermore:
Jerry: “He’s gunna take Manyus to the city, to make a real guy out of him, and then come back and marry Natcha.”
Manyus: “What new horror is this? I will not do it!”
Oh, THAT you won’t do?
But before they can flee, Gorzo, Hugo and the Spider Men enter their hut. Despite Manyus’s attempt to make Hugo obey him, Bruce and Jerry are captured and hauled away, as Natcha screams in a particularly annoying manner.
We get a brief cutaway to show that despite Rama’s boast, the Wangas aren’t too keen to enter the village either, then return to Bruce and Jerry being lashed to a kind of matting-covered scaffolding.
“Now—I be big and strong—like you!” Gorzo announces, somewhat illogically, before leading Hugo back to the hut. The giant carries Manyus out, while the screaming Natcha is left under guard.
At the place of sacrifice, the Spider Men have gone behind the framework to which Bruce and Jerry are lashed—and begin blindly shooting arrows at their victims—
CHAPTER 9: JUNGLE VENGEANCE
We flashback all the way to Gorzo’s “big and strong” speech, before eventually coming back to Our Heroes’ surprisingly casual summation of their situation:
Jerry: “Well, Bruce, this looks like the end.”
Bruce: “Sorry, Jerry.”
—but it’s okay – at least in one sense – because the Wangas descend before any of the Spider Men’s arrows can hit anything vital. (We do hear a slightly annoyed, “Ow!” from Jerry at one point.) The Spider Men left on guard rush out to join the fight, and Natcha, who has found a convenient knife, is able to free the others from the scaffolding, while the slaughter goes on around them.
But it’s not actually okay, as Bruce, Jerry and Natcha are immediately captured by Butterfield. They deny any knowledge of Manyus’s whereabouts, and Butterfield, who has been threatening them with his gun, stupidly gets close enough for Bruce – outraged by him calling Natcha a liar – to pop him one.
(Amongst its other – qualities – The Lost City is almost a treatise on Ken’s Rule Of Guns.)
The infuriated Butterfield makes a motion to shoot back, only to have his arm knocked down by the leader of the Wangas: “Queen Rama say—white men, no die!” Actually she only said that one particular white man shouldn’t die, but anyhoo. Butterfield orders the captives taken to the trading-post.
Then we cut back to the Lost City – remember the Lost City? – where we find that Appolyn has finally conceded his own utter uselessness by returning empty-handed, and Zolok is pacing up and down, striking his hands together in a frustrated manner:
Zolok: “I must find Manyus!”
You know—I never dreamed that anything could surpass the drama and suspense of The Phantom Empire’s “broadcasting at two o’clock” plot, but I must admit, The Lost City’s “get hold of Manyus” plot has it beaten all hollow.
It occurs to Zolok to turn on his TV, and immediately he sees Manyus being marched through the jungle by Gorzo and
Hugo “one of our slaves”. He orders Appolyn to switch on “the radio detector”, although we never find out what this is or why. Another glance at the TV shows Gorzo hiding while Hugo carries Manyus away, upon the Wangas drawing near. Zolok once again sends Appolyn after Manyus, promising to hold the Wangas off with “the static machine”.
Ah. The static machine is the sparky, crackly thing that helped save Manyus’s life in Chapter 4, by terrifying the natives into screaming and running away from the Altar of Sacrifice. It actually…does nothing here: its presence is conveyed by arc-lines across the image, but the leader of the Wangas declares them “Not afraid!”, and they attack Hugo—who screams, drops Manyus, and is overpowered; although not without nearly strangling the leader first. Watching, Zolok makes a gesture of frustration; as we note that, yet again, Appolyn has failed to achieve anything, or even to show up.
The Wangas march Manyus back to the trading-post, where Andrews announces their arrival:
Andrews: “Rama! They’re bringing in Grandpa the Giant-Maker!”
Manyus is a little taken aback to find himself the captive of some random female in spangles. Rama greets him politely enough, but soon gets down to business. Manyus, however, waves a dismissive hand at her proposition:
Manyus: “My inventions were intended to benefit people, not to destroy them!”
Rama: “Then you refuse?”
Manyus: “I must! Never again will I use my science for selfish motives!”
Frustrated but diplomatic, Rama sends Manyus away to rest; while an eavesdropping Andrews comes in to debate her lack of progress. Rama insists that she will make Manyus do what she wants – and Butterfield – and orders Andrews to keep silent about Manyus’s presence in the compound; though it isn’t clear why she thinks he’ll co-operate with her. We then learn that Natcha, Bruce and Jerry are almost at the compound.
In his hut, Manyus is more hang-dog than ever. He’s obviously feeling bad about something; I’m going to go out on a limb and guess it isn’t his whiteification…
Rama, having changed into a fetching micro-leopard-skin outfit, calls on Manyus and learns – ah! – it’s Natcha he’s worried about. Rama reassures him, and then tactfully turns the conversation to giants who can retain their minds. Manyus admits to his abilities:
Rama: “Then if my men were made into giants—they would still know that Rama was their queen?”
Manyus: “They would!”
Rama: “You and I—we will be friends!”
Andrews then warns Rama that Butterfield has arrived with the others, and they hurry away from Manyus’s place of confinement. Rama circles around so that she can emerge from Butterfield’s own residence, as if she’s never been anywhere else. She praises Butterfield and, after giving Bruce a swift up-and-down, cunningly pretends to assume that he is “the great white doctor”:
Butterfield: “Who? Him? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”
Bruce for some reason finds this intolerably insulting and stalks up to Butterfield. They stand eyeball to eyeball for a moment – then Butterfield tries popping him one – misses – and Bruce pops him one. Of course Butterfield goes for his gun, but Rama and her men intervene. She has the others taken away, but retains Butterfield, demanding to know what he has done with Manyus? Butterfield splutters furiously over Rama’s assumption of power in his village, but she has an answer for that:
Rama: “Take him to the Temple of Sacrifice!”
Any relation to the Altar of Sacrifice?”
Bruce, inexplicably, protests:
Bruce: “You’re not condemning this man to death!?”
Rama: “THIS—is Africa!”
Because they don’t condemn people to death where you come from, Brucey old boy, now do they??
Weirdly enough, it appears that the Temple of Sacrifice is a building in Butterfield’s own compound—so, what? – the Altar is just a back-up, then? – you know, for when you’re trying to manage an overcrowded sacrificing schedule?
Marched towards the hut in question, Butterfield suddenly attacks his guards. However, they manage to subdue him, and force him through the doorway.
Natcha and Jerry are also imprisoned, separately; but as for Bruce, Rama has other plans for him…
Andrews has been lurking around through all this, and now he manages to knock out Butterfield’s guard. He cuts the prisoner down from the framework to which he has been lashed, and gives him a gun. “I’ll take care of her,” growls Butterfield. Andrews distracts him, and makes him angrier, by telling him that Rama had Manyus in her clutches all along. “And she’s fallen for the fresh guy!” Andrews adds, prompting Butterfield to anticipate a two-fer.
Okay. Apparently the Temple is outside the compound, because now Butterfield stands at the open gates and signal-whistles to his natives, who manage to slip away – all of them! – without being seen by any of the Wangas. Butterfield splits his force in two, going after Manyus himself while sending Andrews to get Natcha as a bargaining-chip.
Bruce, fearful for
his virtue Natcha, jumps his guard – has one single guard in this thing successfully guarded anyone?? – but Andrews clunks him on the head before he can rescue her. Meanwhile – sigh – Butterfield takes care of the guard outside Manyus’s hut; while Andrews – SIGH – takes care of Natcha’s female guard, acquiring the girl’s co-operation with a lie about Bruce being wounded.
Out in the jungle, Manyus and Natcha are somewhat roughly reunited, with Butterfield promising that no harm will come to her, provided—
Bruce, who has also been carried out of the compound – why? – now springs out of unconsciousness, but is overcome by the natives when he tries to intervene. He is tied to a tree, whereupon Butterfield rips his shirt open and starts writing on his chest—RAMA’S DESIRE (!!!!).
Apparently the implications of this are much much worse than Butterfield laughing at the suggestion that Bruce could be a brilliant scientist, because he is moved to the ultimate insult:
Bruce: “Butterfield—you’re yellow!”
“What are you going to do?” gasps Natcha. Well, let’s see: Butterfield has a gun in his hand and is pointing it at Bruce, so—maybe make him a nice dinner?
“I may be a bad shot, Gordon,” snarls Butterfield, “but this is once I’m not gunna miss—“
CHAPTER 10: THE LION PIT
—but it’s okay – though again, not really – because all this farnarkling around has given Rama and the Wangas time to catch up. A spear in the arm ensures that Butterfield does not fire, and the Wangas swarm all over, rescuing / capturing the others except for – sigh – Manyus, who slips off into the jungle.
Can someone please just capture him and keep him captured?
Anyway, there is a moment of awkwardness when Rama sees the writing on Bruce’s chest; though she knows just where to place the blame. Confrontations and denials and searches follow, with Butterfield taken away – “You know where!” – and Natcha threatened with going with him; while as for Bruce—
Rama: “I’ll deal with you in my own way!”
Andrews and two of the natives are searching for Manyus, but just as they spot him, Andrews gets a spear in the back from one of the Wangas—good—allowing Manyus to slip away again.
Back at the compound, Bruce and Natcha are separated and she is dragged away:
Bruce: “Why do you continue to persecute this girl?”
Rama: “Why do you ask me that?”
Then one of the natives who was with Andrews is dragged in, screaming shrilly and hysterically as per Chapter 1. He begs the “memsahib” (?) for mercy, but she’s really not in the mood:
Rama: “To the lion-pit with him!”
There’s a lion-pit?
And again—isn’t this Butterfield’s compound? Why does Butterfield have a lion-pit? At what’s supposed to be a trading-post?
On the other hand, The Phantom Empire promised us a lion-pit and then didn’t show it. We can’t make that complaint here. The still-screaming native is forced inside the door – like everything else around this place, the lion-pit is inside a hut – where there is a very narrow ledge overhanging the pit itself. As the Wangas lock the door, the ledge begins to tip—dropping the native into a mish-mash of stock footage.
To the accompanying sounds of roaring and screaming, Rama warns Bruce to remember this lesson—then exchanges one attitude for another. “Come,” she purrs at him, “you must rest…”
Speaking of lions— We now learn that Butterfield has been left uncomfortably trussed up out in the jungle, and he is currently being threatened by one.
Meanwhile, Appolyn is still wandering aimlessly around—in company with Hugo – or anyway, “one of our slaves” – who was last seen getting overpowered by the Wangas.
(I’m guessing that Jerry Frank and Sam Baker spent a morning just wandering back and forth over the same patch of ground for the benefit of the cameras, so that their footage could later be cut up as needed. At least it gave them time to become friends.)
Zolok once again spots Manyus, and once again orders Appolyn to capture him and “bring him here”: to which Appolyn once again responds, “Yes, Master.”
Oh! – and now Butterfield is being threatened by a tiger! And then who should come wandering by but Manyus, who obligingly cuts him loose.
Oh for fuck’s sake you stupid old bastard.
But no, we’re supposed to believe that Butterfield now undergoes an instantaneous reformation. He concedes that he doesn’t deserve this act of mercy from Manyus, who responds solemnly that, “Human life is a precious thing—”
—of course he means white human life—
—even Butterfield’s. And the two of them head off into the jungle together, literally hand-in-hand.
At the compound, Bruce is being royally entertained by Rama. (We notice that at some point, he scrubbed the writing off his chest.) When he proposes a toast to “friendship”, Rama immediately suggests that he means something more, yes? But no—
Bruce: “A marriage between us would be impossible.” (!!)
Rama: “I know what it is! It is this creature, Natcha!”
Bruce suggests they “leave her out of it”, but as it happens Rama would rather give her twenty lashes. She calls this off as Bruce desperately intervenes, complaining gently that he made her “forget herself” and suggesting they have another drink—giving one of her handmaidens a significant look. He downs the doctored brew, and is immediately struck blind.
Rama laughs evilly—and laughs even more as she plays keep-away from his lunges at her. She departs, still laughing.
Out in the jungle, Appolyn and the giant nearly run into Manyus and Butterfield, but the latter two dodge them, leaving Appolyn still batting zero. Butterfield promises to take Manyus to Natcha, who just at that moment is being dragged across the compound—screaming and carrying on as if she were a native or something: how undignified.
But perhaps she has reason to scream, as she is thrust through the doors of the lion-pit. This time, though, the ledge takes its own sweet time about tilting, allowing her much screaming-room (and us some more mismatched stock footage).
One of Rama’s handmaidens slips in to Bruce and tells him about Natcha and the lion-pit, though I’m not sure what he’s supposed to do about it. She also tells him that she is called Kala, and adds, “You save me”—though I’m honestly not sure if she’s saying that she’s doing this because Bruce saved her, or that because she’s doing this, he has to save her. I don’t remember him saving her but I might have phased out (or maybe it got lost in editing).
Either way, Kala’s actions are discovered by the blindness-potion-wielding handmaiden.
Meanwhile, Natcha is still clinging to the slowwly dropping ledge, as still more mismatched stock footage plays—this time featuring a tiger and, I’m pretty sure, a leopard. At last she is dangling by one hand, as the savage beasts roar beneath her—
CHAPTER 11: DEATH RAY
—but it’s okay, because Kala and Bruce get there just in time, and rather gropingly pull her to safety.
Only then Natcha realises that Bruce is blind…
They nevertheless make their escape, even as the other handmaiden is reporting to Rama, who is properly infuriated to learn that Natcha is not being torn apart by lions (and tigers and leopards, oh my!).
Pursued by the Wangas, Kala and Natcha lead Bruce through the jungle—where they run straight into Manyus and Butterfield. There isn’t much time for a reunion, though: “Wanga come!” exclaims Kala, though it proves to be a Wanga in the singular; and Butterfield proves that he is now “our friend”, as Manyus declares, by strangling the native to death with his bare hands, while the others run to the cave where Butterfield and Manyus earlier hid from Appolyn.
Butterfield can’t prevent a last burst of cowardly screaming from the native, though, and the other Wangas come running. Butterfield evades these master trackers by scrambling up a tree, climbing down when they have passed and joining the others. And curiously, it is he and not Manyus who knows how to help Bruce: he sends Kala for some “black medicine leaves”, which he promises that, once boiled into a potion, will counteract his blindness. “Maybe this will make up for some of the rotten things I’ve done,” he mutters; while the others fall over themselves forgiving him.
Meanwhile – oh, spare me days, as a certain sports commentator here used to say – Zolok is telling Appolyn where he can find Manyus.
Appolyn has two giants with him at this point, I’m not sure how, and does address one of them as, “Hugo.” He heads off for the cave as instructed, and fortunately for him, given his track record, Natcha and Manyus have just been left behind by Butterfield and Bruce, who have gone to, “Recapture the trading-post.” Because, after all, it’s not as if lion-pit and Temple of Sacrifice-adjacent trading-posts are a dime a dozen.
So Appolyn finally manages to capture Manyus—whoo!!
Inside the compound, Rama is being a general bee-otch to her people; while outside, Bruce (and the screenwriters) are just now remembering that such a person as Jerry Delaney exists. (Apparently he was left behind “in the stockade”.) Bruce slips around the back to see what he can do about it – I’m going to take a wild guess that it involves jumping Jerry’s guard – while at the gates, Butterfield’s natives appear from nowhere.
Bruce indeed follows Butterfield’s lead by choking the guard to death – “That’s swell, kid!” chortles Jerry, who I haven’t missed one little bit – and they run off—straight into Butterfield’s natives, who are hurriedly informed that their boss has switched teams mid-season. Butterfield sends Bruce and Jerry back after Manyus and Natcha, promising to take care of other matters himself.
There is some sort of kerfuffle at the trading-post; and Butterfield stalks in to discover that Rama has been a bee-otch for the last time…her previously loyal handmaiden taking exception to an unprovoked cup of wine in the face. “Good work!” approves Butterfield.
At the cave, Bruce and Jerry find only the signs of a struggle and some very large footprints. Bruce heads for the Lost City, sending Jerry to let Butterfield know. He, at that moment, is announcing Rama’s death and his own resumption of power. “Wangas no take orders from you,” huffs their leader, and Butterfield – sigh – pops him one.
Jerry then rushes in, and Butterfield rushes out—with some of his natives, though not the Wangas.
Meanwhile—Bruce has somehow gotten ahead of Appolyn’s party, and clunks one of the giants with a big branch. That doesn’t achieve much, and Appolyn intervenes to have Bruce taken prisoner too, instead of killed. (Nice of him, I wonder why?)
And then Gorzo, MIA since the Spider Village, also shows up out of nowhere. He tells the others that he saw Appolyn’s party heading for the Lost City – which by the way is now located beneath the Magic Mountain – and with professions of friendship, offers to show Butterfield and Jerry a secret way in. “Zolok double-crossed me,” he explains (though we didn’t see it).
“I don’t trust that guy,” snarls Jerry, who bought Butterfield’s reformation without blinking. Butterfield provisionally accepts Gorzo’s word, but keeps his gun handy.
And then we finally do return to the Lost City, where Zolok and Appolyn are testing a new doo-hickey: a death-ray! – or, more formally, a Destroying-Ray. (Which appears to work on more or less the same principle as Goldfinger’s laser.) “Get the prisoners!” orders Zolok.
As they slog through the jungle, the would-be rescuers pass another group of dangling human skulls, which cause the natives to scream and flee because of course they do, leaving Gorzo, Butterfield and Jerry to go on without back-up. “The skulls frightened them,” says Jerry, whose special subject is apparently the Bleeding Obvious.
In the Lost City, Bruce is being strapped into a chair by a gloating Appolyn, while Zolok observes to Manyus, “It is fitting that you should be here to witness the first major experiment of your own invention—the Destroying-Ray.”
Which no doubt Manyus invented to BENEFIT HUMANITY!!??
Manyus: “Zolok, spare us this horror!”
Natcha: “It’s no use, Father! He’s so crooo-ell!”
Appolyn is ordered to turn on the Destroying-Ray—the deadly beam of which cuts its way towards the helpless Bruce—
CHAPTER 12: THE MAD SCIENTIST
Before we go any further, I should probably to clarify that the “mad scientist” referred to in the chapter title is Zolok, not Manyus.
Just in case there was any confusion about that.
Anyway—we flashback all the way to the natives screaming and running in terror from the skulls, because we just can’t see (and hear) that sort of thing too often; though this time we also see Gorzo, still under threat, leading the others into a secret entrance to the Lost City.
We also get Zolok making a new speech to Bruce:
Zolok: “You’ve invaded our city! You’ve stolen our secrets!”
Actually, Zolok, you shanghaied Bruce and Jerry into the city; and Bruce hasn’t shown any interest in your crappy secrets; and if I recall correctly, you were planning on picking his brain by threatening him with the enlarging machine.
But, oh well, you know what they say: you don’t argue with the man with the death-ray.
Nearby, Gorzo hears that something is going on in the Control Room, and says to Butterfield and Jerry that they must cut the power, so that Zolok doesn’t pick them up on his television. So – taking their own sweet time about it – they go to the Powerhouse.
I wonder what ever happened to that amplifier? As far as that goes, I wonder what ever happened to the rest of the world?
Anyway, Gorzo fiddles with a few switches—and the Destroying-Ray goes from a bang to a whimper.
So it’s okay.
Gorzo, Butterfield and Jerry go back into the corridor, but leap back to hide from Appolyn. Butterfield clunks on the head as he passes, and Gorzo takes from him his light-key – which Bruce took from him earlier – I mean, I suppose it may be a new one, but Appolyn has barely been inside the Lost City since.
When Appolyn recovers, they force him to call Zolok to the Powerhouse, then tie him up and gag him. Zolok is in the middle of exchanging insults with Bruce – “You young upstart!” – but breaks off and hurries away. When he reaches the Powerhouse, Butterfield clunks him – not very imaginative – and then he and Jerry imprison Zolok in one of his own steel dungeons, while Gorzo hurries away to free the others from the giants.
In the Control Room, Natcha is having a freak-out, and eventually lunges forward to try and free Bruce. The giants stop her, though not violently; yet Natcha gasps and shrieks, and Manyus comes rushing up: “Stop! Stop it, I tell you! I am master now!”
And then Hugo – at least, I certainly hope it’s Hugo – grabs him by the throat.
Do it! DO IT!!!!
Alas, Gorzo arrives in time to intervene and orders the giants back to their quarters; and so Bruce is finally released. Butterfield and Jerry show up, and report that Zolok, “Won’t bother them no more.”
Natcha: “You didn’t kill him?”
Jerry: “Nah, we just put him on ice.”
In a metal box, where they apparently intend to leave him to die of thirst…except that our pair of geniuses forgot to take his light-key away. “The stupid fools,” chuckles Zolok, “the stupid fools!” – and really, it’s hard to argue.
(Actually, it seems to be more of a mini-acetylene tool. Don’t leave home without one.)
Oblivious, the others are tying up their loose ends. Bruce plans to wreck Zolok’s equipment, and also to broadcast a message to the outside world – remember the outside world? – telling everyone that their peril is at an end; while an unctuous Butterfield tells Gorzo to reassure the natives that they have nothing more to fear from the Lost City.
Manyus goes to set up his transmitter—inviting Butterfield and Jerry to go with him, leaving Bruce and Natcha alone.
They are soon interrupted by Jerry – for once, thank you, Jerry – who praises Manyus’s system and tells Bruce he can broadcast from the microphone in the Control Room. A ship somewhere picks up the signal, and after helpfully announcing himself to be transmitting from “the Lost City” in “the centre of Africa”, Bruce explains the situation and wraps up his broadcast thusly:
Bruce: “Most of the marvels of the Lost City are due to the genius of a Dr Manyus, whose sole purpose has ever been for the progress and welfare of his fellow men.”
Some of his fellow men.
They all then depart the city via the secret passage; though I’m not sure why they can’t just use the front door.
Meanwhile, Zolok has broken out of his cell—staggering around and chortling to himself in a way meant to convey that, as Manyus declared earlier, he has indeed lost his mind. Or had too much to drink. He returns to the Control Room and tries to fire up his equipment, but the power is still off. Somehow the television is still working, however—and Zolok is just in time to see the others addressing the natives in a nauseatingly paternal way:
Manyus: “My children! The mad scientist of the Lost City will torture you no longer!”
I hate it when people speak in the third person, don’t you?
The television then shows a small squadron of planes, presumably searching from Bruce’s directions. Zolok chortles some more, and starts messing with his static-machine…
Out in the jungle, Gorzo thanks everyone for being so kind to him – I must have missed that bit – before going back to “his people”, unspecified. The Spider Men? He departs after giving Natcha puppy-dog eyes one last time. The others spot the planes, but Butterfield declines an invitation to leave with them: “Africa…is my home!”
Meanwhile—whatever Zolok was doing to the static machine has a rather a rather startling effect:
KA-BLAMMO!!!! – Lost City,
Magnetic Magic Mountain and all…although somehow not Our Heroes, who were last seen standing just outside the former at the base of the latter.
“That’s the end of that maniac, Zolok!” pronounces Butterfield.
Yeah. And of Appolyn, who you guys left tied up in the Powerhouse. And of all the giants, those particular beneficiaries of Manyus’s genius. But I guess heroes don’t sweat the details.
Bruce: “Then my mission is fulfilled!”
There’s a bit more on this serial in Spinning Newspaper Injures Printer.
There’s also some Immortal Dialogue (don’t worry, it’s mostly just the science stuff).
Afterword: Ugh. I feel dirty.
No wonder poor Sam Baker needed absolution from MLK before he could get over this.
Part of me feels like I owe the rest of you an apology, for dragging you through this quagmire. But as I said at the outset, I don’t believe in hiding this stuff away, but rather hauling it out into the unforgiving light of day.
It is hard to get your head around the implications of the Spider Men interlude. After all—the Spider Men are no less despised by Our Heroes than the other natives. And they live just like the other natives. They gain no physical or social or intellectual or power advantage from being white. They just want to be white—because of course they do.
We’re left to accept that someone thought of this – some people wrote it – some actors performed it – it was sent out as a piece of general entertainment – a form of entertainment aimed chiefly at children – but if anyone other than Sam Baker voiced an objection, history doesn’t record the fact.
The only positive I can offer here is that pretty much every more recent reaction to The Lost City I’ve come across has been either slack-jawed disbelief or genuine horror—which at least goes to show that we have made some progress, if still not nearly enough.
And now, if you’ll excuse me—I’m going to go and take a long hot shower…
Thank you very much for watching this so that we don’t have to. Every now and then, when watching old movies, reading old stories, novels, comic books- whatever- one comes across something so disgustingly, disturbingly, blatantly racist that no amount of seeing it as a product of its time can even begin to salvage it.
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I was anger-crying at a couple of points in this one. Perversely, it would probably be less upsetting if you felt they were being deliberately nasty; but instead they seem to have been totally unaware that they were doing anything objectionable.
Natcha actually got to do something! Twice! Hurrah!
“That snake won’t bother us. Can’t you see the film stock is entirely different?”
I suppose if one really stretched a point one could see this as a parody of racist attitudes, as these people see the skin colour being so much more important than their victims’ culture and background and so on, but at best I suspect this is inadvertent self-parody.
“So, Bruce, remember I can have people thrown into the lion pit at my whim. Wouldn’t want you to feel any… performance anxiety.”
“Yes, indeed, I invented the Destroying-Ray to be a weapon so terrible that it would make war unthinkable… why are you all laughing?”
Though I’m pretty much Natcha-ed out, I’m tempted to follow Bruce’s lead and post a GIF of Claudia Dell’s delivery of “cruel”.
And at least the snake – either here or in its original source – didn’t get hurt.
Nah, as I said to Alaric, what we have here is just staggering obliviousness.
“But, oh well, you know what they say: you don’t argue with the man with the death-ray.”
Methinks thou art a poet
And doth not know it
Yeah, but I need to work on my scansion.