The passengers of a tramp steamer are travelling from Africa to Venezuela. The captain is smuggling a dangerous cargo which explodes when in contact with water. So when a hole is put in the ship's side the surviving passengers must all abandon ship. They sail out into uncharted seas and come across descendants of previously marooned passengers, killer seaweed and giant killer sea monsters. In order to survive and hopefully get back home, they must do battle against the inhabitants of this lost continent.
The Lost Continent is a 1968 Science Fiction Hammer and Seven Arts Co-Production. It was directed by Michael Carreras, and stars Eric Porter, Hildegard Knef, Suzanna Leigh and Tony Beckley. It is an adaptation of Dennis Wheatley's novel, Uncharted Seas. The film's screenplay was actually written by Michael Carreras, but it's stated as being written by Michael Nash; a pseudonym of Carreras'.
Possibly not the best of starts but this is an odd one. Its a bit of a strange film for Hammer. It's sort of like two films in one, there's the plot at the start about the captain smuggling this highly volatile substance that when in contact with water explodes. Then after the crew have to abandon ship begins the second plot, that of killer sea weed and giant sea monsters, but bizarrely it works. This melding of two stories makes for an interesting piece of film. But I did find it to be a bit slow, especially the first part or as I'm going to call it the first story, the pre-sea monsters part. When there was action it was really entertaining, but any other times seemed to be a bit slow going.
I'm not sure whether it was intentional comedy or what, but there many moments that made me laugh though it might have just been some bad acting. One of which was the unusual laugh that Patrick the bartender had when he was drunk. I also liked when the Captain was attacked by killer seaweed, it binds his hands piercing the skin, and as he struggles to get them off the other passengers just sit and stare, to which after he has removed the seaweed and is caressing his cut and bleeding hands one of the passengers, who was previously just sitting and watching him struggle, says “You alright sir?”
Another funny aspect of the film was the alcoholic Harry Tyler, who was best in the earlier segment of the film before he decided to go teetotal, this being much to the disappointment of one of the female passengers who is trying to get him drunk by spiking his glass of orange juice with vodka. Upon his realisation of there being vodka in it she claims he was more interesting when he was drunk and storms off to find another male passenger who may be of more interest. She goes to the top deck and finds another man and they begin to chat, but they get attacked by a killer sea monster. Could this be a moral message; stick with your man, he may be dull and boring, but you won't get attacked by a killer sea monster when you're with him. Anyway, I liked Harry Tyler, he was instantly my favourite character, he wore a jacket lined with notes of money, and when he was in his drunken state he was so relaxed and chilled out about the whole ship sinking situation that he continued to drink and began playing the piano. Then after they escaped the sinking ship and were sailing on a lifeboat, he started a fight with one of the other passengers and knocked him off the boat, but not just leaving it at that he then jumped in after him to continue the fight. But this is cut short when a shark begins pursuit. Harry escapes but the other man is eaten by the shark. This must have been his turning point, the reason for his teetotalism.
I rather like the effects in this film, especially the various miniatures shots of ships and the misty seascapes of which they resided in. We all know they're miniatures when watching them, but I really liked them. I felt they must have had a lot of work put into them, as they looked to me to be some of the best Hammer miniatures I've seen. I just really enjoyed the many seascape shots of these miniatures. The effects on the battling giant sea monsters was a bit iffy mind, they were very sixties, as was the entire film. Very sixties being determined by the use of music, the effects and pretty much the entire feel of the film. This in no way is bad, I actually really liked this identifiable sixties feel and mood to the film. As well as the miniatures there are some pretty good other effects, the best one being when a guy gets shot in the stomach with a flare, quite a cool way to kill someone and put an end to a group battle, well done to the lady who fired the flare.
The Lost Continent is a strange one, but this doesn't make it bad, it's not great but it is worth a look if you're into odd sixties cult classics. If the pace of the film had been a bit faster then I would have enjoyed the film a whole lot more, but that aside I didn't mind it, I thought it was about average and I'd say it's one of those Hammer films that stands out, even if it is for being an odd ball amongst Hammer's other fine pieces of cinema.
The Lost Continent 3/5