By Chaz Lipp

Finishing up our coverage of December’s limited edition Blu-rays from Twilight Time, following a look at Beloved Infidel, it’s time to focus a little attention on The Blue Lagoon and Lost Horizon. First a quick recap of how Twilight Time operates, for those unfamiliar with their releases. They issue a limited pressing of 3,000 copies of each of their titles, available exclusively through their distributor, Screen Archives.

The Blue Lagoonstars Brooke Shields (14 at the time) and Christopher Atkins (18 at the time). Quite controversial when originally released for its soft core depiction of the sexual awakening of a pair of teenagers, Lagoonnow feels like a laughable relic. After their ship sinks, only Emmeline (Shields), Richard (Atkins), and a cook named Paddy (Leo McKern) survive. Finding themselves stranded on a deserted island, Paddy finds himself overwhelmed with playing daddy to a couple of kids and eventually drops dead. Emmeline and Richard must fend for themselves, which they do with apparent ease. They live in an elaborate Swiss Family Robinson-style bamboo structure and Richard spears fish daily.

If it weren’t all silly enough, there happens to be a cannibalistic tribe living on the other side of the island. Fear not, they never cross paths with the teens. Screenwriter Douglas Day Stewart must’ve felt the threat would be enough to provide sufficient drama. It isn’t. Basically, Lagoon boils down to watching a pair of intellectually-stunted teenagers discovering sex, getting pregnant, and living contentedly by themselves. The purposely (or maybe purposeless) ambiguous ending is hogwash.

Lost Horizon is fluff of a different breed. A remake of the 1937 Frank Capra film of the same name, Horizon adds a Hal David/Burt Bacharach song score to the mix, transforming it into a musical. Consider yourself warned however, it doesn’t start out that way. The first 40 minutes or so play out like the typical disaster movie set up. The all-star cast, including Peter Finch, John Gielgud, George Kennedy, Sally Kellerman, and Michael York, find themselves on a hijacked plane that eventually crashes in a remote area in the Himalayan Mountains. After meeting Chang (Gielgud), they’re led to the utopian world of Shangri-La, where everyone sings and dances while never getting sick or growing old.

Actually it’s all something of a cheese-fest for connoisseurs of bad movies. The songs are uniformly unmemorable and often garishly arranged. Only a few in the cast do their own singing (including Bobby Van, Sally Kellerman, and James Shigeta), with the rest lip-syncing or awkwardly “thinking” their musical numbers. Of course, it turns out there’s trouble in their Shangri-La paradise, but at 149 minutes it becomes a chore to find out exactly what.

Both films look quite good on Blu-ray, with only one short sequence spoiling the otherwise excellent presentation of Lagoon (for some reason, things go blurry during Richards brief attempt to leave the island). The island beaches look beautiful, with the image hardly looking its 33 years. Horizon has more variety on display, with its richly colorful costumes. Both movies feature excellent 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mixes, with the Bacharach songs sounding particularly great in Horizon. Solid presentation all around.

Extra features include isolated score tracks for each film (presented in 2.0 DTS-HD MA). There’s a bunch of stuff ported over from a previous DVD edition of Lagoon, including two commentary tracks and a vintage behind-the-scenes featurette. Besides a deleted scene and a short behind-the scenes, Horizon’s key extra is 24 minutes of Burt Bacharach song demos (with a slide show of stills providing the visual component). Liner notes by Julie Kirgo, included in a booklet with each release, add valuable production background for each film.
Chaz Lipp

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