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Case Number 16461

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The Lost Treasure Of The Grand Canyon

Anchor Bay // 2008 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // May 27th, 2009

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All Rise...

Years ago, Judge Adam Arseneau dropped his watch down the Canyon on a family vacation. Looks like someone found it! Hooray!

The Charge

A lost city filled with fortune. An ancient civilization ruled by evil.

Opening Statement

A low-budget Sci Fi original movie, the DVD cover of The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon features a large picture of actress Shannon Doherty framed by the moon, rising over an ancient temple. At least I thought so at first.

After watching the film, it turns out the figure depicted is not the former television star, but is actually Quetzalcoatl, a gigantic feathered serpent monster awakened from the depths of the earth to consume and destroy mankind. My mistake!

Facts of the Case

In the early days of the 20th century, the Smithsonian sends an expedition into the Grand Canyon to investigate rumors of a long-lost civilization and hidden city nestled in its valleys. When the lead investigator, Dr. Jordan, goes missing, his archeologist daughter Susan (Shannon Doherty, Beverly Hills 90210) picks up his trail and mounts a rescue party.

To their surprise, the team discovers an ancient Aztec city buried in the Grand Canyon, established thousands of years ago, still sacrificing to their ancient gods. Unfortunately for the team, the gods are alive and well, including the ancient feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl!

The Evidence

The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon is awful. Feel free to read the review further if you like, but that's really all you need to know about this Sci Fi movie piece of crap. Pick an area, any area of cinema, and enter a discussion about its merits, and no matter what you pick, The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon will suck. Let's give it a go, shall we?

Acting? Forget about it. This film is a stunning testament to the downward spiral of Shannon Doherty's career, and she sleepwalks through what may be her last paid job, looking bored and annoyed. The cast of Aztecs look like a random cross-selection of white Caucasians taken off the street in bad makeup, which is offensive to at least two cultures. Many of the supporting cast are Stargate alumni (Michael Shanks and JR Bourne), and their inclusion does not win any points with this court.

Special effects? The CGI-crafted monster depicted here looks about on par with what the average Mac user could churn out on a laptop on a Saturday evening. The serpent god thing runs about like a video game cut scene monster. The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon was filmed in Vancouver, which no doubt explains how it got lost. People were looking in the Grand Canyon for it, but who'd think to look in Vancouver? As a result, nothing looks even remotely like the Grand Canyon.

Plot? I lost count of the truck-sized holes in the first 15 minutes of the film. A six-man rescue party head out on a three-day march, but takes no supplies, water or materials with them, and are murdered in order of their annoyingness. Spiraling, booby-trapped corridors that have not been occupied by the living in thousands of years all helpfully have torches burning. The Aztecs have huts made out of palm tree leaves, for Bob's sake. Ever seen a palm tree while on vacation in the Grand @#$%ing Canyon? Or the one character who, 60 minutes into the film, suddenly reveals himself as being able to speak the same Aztec language as the natives? Information that could have proved helpful earlier on, say when they were being chased by said Aztecs?

With minuscule effort, films like this are churned out of small production companies and released upon the world, and sold to Sci Fi to be shown on a Saturday night where no one will ever see it. The way I see it, by reviewing The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon, all I do is bring attention to it, which is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. As a culture, we need to say "no" and start fighting back. You bring the pitchforks, I'll light the torches.

It is a shame that I was mistaken about Shannon Doherty being the evil red-eyed monster in the film. It would have been a much more entertaining film. A gigantic Shannon Doherty revealing her true form to destroy mankind would make more sense, far more sense than the crap put on film here. Seriously, why can't that be a movie? I'd pay good money for that.

The anamorphic transfer is surprisingly robust for a film of this overall crumminess, featuring strong black levels, solid detail, a minimal of compression artifacts and balanced color tones. Unfortunately, the detail only reinforces exactly how lousy the CGI effects truly are. The audio comes in a 5.1 Dolby Surround presentation, with moderate bass response, a lively orchestral score and clear dialogue. Most of the action and ambient noises are crammed into the front and side channels, leaving the rear channels struggling to assert themselves, but they pop to life at all the right times. It might suck as a film, but The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon has a decent presentation—go figure.

Extras are poor; beyond the obligatory trailers, we get a small making-of featurette, running about 10 minutes in length.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

If you had to come up with something nice to say about the film, the direction and cinematography reveals surprising competency. Some of the compositions and shots are well-executed and the camerawork suggests talents that belie such a low-budget production. There is measurable talent at work in The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon…just none where we need it.

Closing Statement

Terrible beyond quantification, The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon implodes at every avenue of examination. A laughable plot, terrible acting, and horrible special effects doom this picture well in advance of you putting it in your DVD player. Fare thee warned.

The Verdict


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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 88
Extras: 15
Acting: 65
Story: 55
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Adventure
• Fantasy
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette


• IMDb

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