The Lost Continent (1968)
The Lost Continent (1968)

Genre: Fantasy Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.

Release Date: June 19th, 1968 MPAA Rating: G

Director: Michael Carreras Actors: Eric Porter, Hildegard Knef, Suzanna Leigh, Nigel Stock, Benito Carruthers, Dana Gillespie, Tony Beckley

 


 

A

ridiculously eclectic mix of characters observes the sea burial of a child, before a flashback attempts to explain the bizarre scenario. First Officer Hemmings (Neil McCallum) warns irritable Captain Lansen (Eric Porter) of Hurricane Wendy, which rapidly approaches their steamer, the Corita. Heading for Caracas from Freetown, through the Atlantic Ocean, a handful of passengers have chosen the vessel for unquestioned passage and on-the-run intentions, paying exorbitant prices for the treacherous journey. Pianist Harry Tyler (Tony Beckley) flirts with middle-aged Eva Peters (Hildegarde Neff), while Ricaldi (Benito Carruthers) disapprovingly scoffs and fidgety Dr. Webster (Nigel Stock) worries over his daughter Unity’s (Suzanna Leigh) seasickness. Each harbors secrets: one is a corrupt commander, one is a thief, one is a lazy drunk, one is a bounty hunter, one is a promiscuous seductress, one is a shady surgeon, and the unnamed crewmen are all sensibly mutinous. There’s not a likeable character among them.

As the storm looms, the crew discovers that the ship carries barrels of illegal explosives (PHos B), in danger of igniting when exposed to moisture. Several abandon ship while the belligerent skipper relocates the cargo to the deck. Ultimately, he is still forced to corral the remaining members into a tiny lifeboat as the barge fills with water. Adrift at sea with little food and numerous injuries, the survivors are eventually rescued when the tub crashes into the Corita, still afloat amidst thick wrack. Surrounding the ship appears to be a graveyard of every other vessel from around the world, along with plenty of unforgiving, murderous creatures and barbaric civilizations.

“The Lost Continent” is all over the place when it comes to themes, styles, character designs, and plot. The conglomeration of mysterious escapers is reminiscent of John Ford’s “Stagecoach” – though no true hero ever emerges. The band of rascals only resembles protagonists when subsequent acquaintances and societies prove to be far viler. Although not overly violent, the film doesn’t shy away from a flare gun to the stomach, a ravenous shark, carnivorous seaweed, an overgrown mutant hermit crab and scorpion duel, conquistador-like raiders with balloon accoutrements and inquisitional principles of social behavior, religious sacrifice and persecution, and a strange preoccupation with imbibing in the Corita’s bar. The film was originally rated “X” in the U.K., while it received a lax “G” rating in the U.S.

“What kind of a circus is this anyway?” blurts Lansen, unintentionally pinpointing the oddness of the slipshod gathering. El Supremo “The Devil” (Darryl Read), a mere child being controlled by the merciless white-robed grand inquisitor (Eddie Powell), initiates grand destruction through a reclamation of captured adventurers on the Spanish galleon, as Dana Gillespie’s Sarah, a primitive but peaceful islander, flaunts quivering cleavage at her enemies. In another moment, characters are snatched off the deck by plantlike tentacles. Supplementing the strange visuals is smooth jazz music, with lyrics by Roy Phillips and singing by The Peddlers, presiding over the opening credits and bar scenes. It’s perhaps the most mismatched selection imaginable for the tale of harrowing prehistoric creature combat and nautical misadventures. The soundtrack continues to be routinely inappropriate, playing ill-fitting melodies for tension and suspense and flirtatious twangs as travelers trade uncomfortable glances. Based on the book “Uncharted Seas” by Dennis Wheatley, “The Lost Continent” ends up being a nearly incomprehensible and largely incomplete experiment in monster movie mayhem and action-packed fantasy – the kind of production that fits perfectly into the realm of a Hammer Film.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10

 

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