Ten young boys are shipwrecked somewhere in Oceania. One of Australia's well known films.
Jaeme Hamilton ... Briant
Mark Healey ... Doniphan
Jaime Massang ... Moco
Van Alexander ... Gordon
Ross Williams ... Jacob
Simon Asprey ... Iverson
Peter Alexander ... Garnett
Michael Barry ... Service
Mark Lee ... Costar
Larry Crane ... Wilcox
Its like Lord of the Flies gone dumb. I purchased this film from Wal-Mart for $9.95 and it is titled "Boys of Lost Island" and is described as an "edge of your seat adventure". Whew, what false advertising. Considering this film was made on a budget of around fifty bucks, its got to be the greatest success story of all time if it is now selling for ten dollars. This film would be perfect on "Mystery Science Theatre". I did learn some important things from this film.
1) The first thing that interests a woman after she is found shipwrecked is her hair(which somehow was still perfect anyway).
2) Australian boys can build an entire civilization in under a day.
3) Deserted islands are loaded with such strange wildlife as goats, sheep and pigs.
4) Take a foreign kid along-not only for diversity but because he knows everything. A regular anthropological MacGyver.
5) A 37 foot sailboat can accommodate 10 kids, a missing crew and enough supplies, guns and ammunition to last a year.
And the shipwreck is not even the sailboat they were on before and it is obviously not even a real boat.
Despite all these mentioned flaws, I like this movie and am giving it a 10. Why? Because I know its a foreign film, I love Australians and I know that these kids were all new to acting and the fact everyone tried in this film. Some people do not even do that. And at least this film continues to entertain (in a very cheesy way). And I got some good laughs out of it-not to mention a few ideas of my own. Also, I am not sure if I am correct in saying this, but in the later 1/3 of the film there is an apparent change in the directing and editing and it is improved and looks less amateurish...as if someone was learning along the way and making improvements.
STRANGE HOLIDAY (1969), released in 1992 by GoodTimes (sic) Home Video as BOYS OF LOST ISLAND, is actually one of the most faithful of Verne films, but that is primarily a result of the picture's modest scope. Based on Two Years's Holiday (1888), the story tells of a group of schoolchildren whose ship slips its moorings during a storm, and are afterward shipwrecked on a deserted island. The book is notable for its realistic portrayal of the clashing nationalities and inclinations of the children, who are tempted to break into various factions. However, they manage to survive due to their ability to unite and preserve their civilized traditions. Today, the positivist sentiment makes Two Years's Holiday seem partly a response to William Golding's Lord of the Flies (1954), a book that took a similar situation and reversed Verne's theme.
STRANGE HOLIDAY compresses Two Years's Holiday into 75 minutes, following the outline of the book and adding little that is new. The boys prudently go about surviving the shipwreck, finding the cave of a dead Frenchman who had been shipwrecked long before. They make the cave habitable, and elect the sensible Gordon (Van Alexander) as their leader, hunting and exploring the island. An attempt by Doniphan (Mark Healey) to establish separate quarters is dropped when one of his followers suffers a broken leg, and the boys reunite. They happily agree not to punish the younger Briant (Jaeme Hamilton) when he confesses that he foolishly loosed the ropes that had moored their boat. Further exploration by Doniphan after another storm reveals a second shipwreck, and its survivors are three ruffians who go after the boys.
Little time is allowed for characterization or more than the sketchiest notice of the conflicts between the children. However, Moco (Jaime Messang) receives more attention than he does in the novel, and is portrayed in STRANGE HOLIDAY as a native who is wiser than his white comrades in the means of survival. He devises a "devil" scheme to convince the pirates that the island is haunted, with the result that two of the pirates kill one another and a third is captured. To heighten the contrast with the boys, the shipwrecked young lady (Carmen Duncan, the best performer in the film in an amateurish group) spends her first minutes, after regaining consciousness, fixing her hair, while the lads watch her, bored. The ship's carpenter has also survived, and with his help, the boys discover they are on an archipelago and repair a ship, sailing to safety.
While the script generally helps the film, it is obscured by the dreadful elocution of the children, all of whom appear to be the appropriate ages, between eight and fourteen. However, much of the story's charm is eliminated by the film altering the setting from Verne's time to the present. While this was doubtless partly due to budgetary constraints, the change to contemporary period was probably also deemed the best way to intrigue the youthful audience the picture was addressing. Surprisingly, the pirate invasion that provides the final menace, and ultimately leads to the castaways's escape, does not seem incongruous in the setting; the resemblance approximates smugglers.
Regrettably, STRANGE HOLIDAY also never escapes the limitations imposed by its cost and audience. The movie is clearly aimed at children's matinees, and saw minimal release and television showing, reflecting the form's typical low cost, inept acting, and mediocre direction. Produced, written, and directed by Mende Brown, the picture was filmed by Mass-Brown Pictures in Australia, and shot in color and widescreen in studios in Sydney and around the nearby coastline. Much of the location photography and general art direction is quite pleasing, and the best part of the picture. However, the score by Tommy Tycho is loud, intrusive, and pointless, and the opening and closing credits are ruined by ludicrous voice-overs of a boy's choir singing "Row, row, row your boat." STRANGE HOLIDAY is a minor Verne film, in a lesser vein, attempting and accomplishing little.
It must be remembered that this was a low budget production with no known stars and that it was made in 1969 almost wholly at Artransa Studios in Sydney. It was a school holiday matinee and did not purport to be any more. To compare it with the hollywood childrens movies of the day is unhelpful and without merit.
"Ridiculous" is probably the best word to describe this time-waster, a kid's film ranked somewhere between TREASURE ISLAND and HOME ALONE. What WERE the Producers thinking?
Through circumstances that simply aren't worth enlightening you with, ten boys and the obligatory canine, are shipwrecked on a desert island. (Why can't anyone be shipwrecked just off Hawaii or the coast of Florida?) Their lives are then intruded upon by a bunch of scheming adults, who if they'd watched BABY GENIUSES would know, never come out winners!
Screenplay was somewhat loosely adapted by Producer/Writer/Director Brown, from an original story called "Deux Ans En Vacance" (Two Years On Holiday) by none other than Jules Verne. For what it is worth, it was filmed entirely in Sydney.