The Lost Continent (Movie)

Reviewed by Nancy King

The Lost Continent (Movie)
Directed/Produced by Michael Carreras
Starring: Eric Porter, Heldegard Knef, Suzanna Leigh, Tom Beckley -- Hammer Productions, 1968

Reviewed by Nancy King; published here on with permission.

This 1968 sci fi/fantasy film was produced by the Hammer Studios, famous for its Dracula and other horror films. An earlier film with the same title, released in 1951, starred Caesar Romero and involved the discovery of a land of dinosaurs. This Hammer version of The Lost Continent is quite different and has some unusual and original twists. At the time it was filmed, it had the largest budget of any Hammer film ever made, but despite this was not a commercial success. The Lost Continent features a good cast, elaborate sets, and fairly respectable special effects, not to mention a dark, moody quality and some good adventure scenes.

The film consists of two parts. In the first part, the moody, brooding scene is set. Eric Porter stars as Captain Larson, who commands a run-down freighter carrying illegal explosives to Venezuela, explosives. The crew and passengers have dubious pasts and their unsavory stories are revealed as they interact. Hildegard Knef plays Eva, the former mistress of a South American dictator, skipping the country with his fortune. The others seem equally shady: an unscrupulous physician, his spoiled daughter, an agent of the dictator pursuing Eva, a weak man who drinks, and so forth.

A major storm changes the tempo of the film. Most passengers and crew abandon ship for a lifeboat. The derelict ship battles the storm and survives, drifting along until the lifeboat passengers find it and reboard. The action turns into a moody sequence with the ship caught in a sargasso sea. This drifting tangle of seaweed contains snake-like creatures and harbors something (we see only its mouth) that consumes human beings, all the while making a kind of jingling sound. A giant, one-eyed octopus starts to climb aboard and seize a helpless woman. The man who tries to save her is killed and dragged off by the octopus. Other outsized creatures encountered are a giant crab and a giant scorpion. Passengers and crew die in the encounters, one by one.

The helpless ship drifts into a naval graveyard, where ships from many centuries have come to rest. The descendants of the crews of these ships still live there, including inhabitants of a Spanish galleon where the Inquisition is still alive. The rest of the film concerns the struggle with these descendants of the original crews of the old ships. Most remarkable is the means of travel over the living seaweed: homemade "snowshoes" and helium balloons for support. This is quite an original touch.

The Lost Continent has a solid cast, an eerie atmosphere, and some measure of adventure and excitement. It is fun to watch. The cephalopod content (giant, one-eyed octopus), while lasting only a few minutes, gets your attention.

Feb 22, 2015
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