The Lost Continent (1968) is a Bizarre Trip Down Hammer Alley

LC 1Last Friday night, I journeyed to Lawrence for the latest Cinema a Go-Go. This film series put together by Darrell Brogdon and The Retro Cocktail Hour has become a must-see for me. With a great location, the right mix of movie lovers, cheesy flicks and the smell of popcorn, there really is no better bargain for your money. This time, the theme was “Two Movies, One Title” as Mr. Brogdon chose The Lost Continent from 1951 and 1968. I’ve already reviewed the 1951 version as part of my Summer of Forgotten Horror series, so it’s time to see what Hammer Films could offer.

Now, first things first, despite having the same title, the movies are unrelated. Well, they do share the same passion for whacky storylines and cheesy effects. This effort is based on a story by Dennis Wheatley, author of countless thriller and occult novels. Michael Carreras (Maniac, Shatter) wrote, produced and directed the film. However, he wasn’t the original director. Leslie Norman started the film before being replaced. And Carreras actually credited his gardener, Michael Nash, with writing the screenplay.

LC 2Our story is set on a rundown steamer with Captain Lansen (Eric Porter, Hands of the Ripper) on what would soon be revealed as his last voyage. He’s taken on a load of explosive Phosphor B that detonates when wet (not the brightest idea on a ship). Of course, the ship is heading straight into a hurricane, which the captain ignores despite efforts by his first officer to turn back. The passengers are an odd lot, including a discredited doctor (Nigel Stock, The Lion in Winter) and his nymphomaniac daughter (Suzanna Leigh, Lust for a Vampire), a drunk pianist, and a mysterious woman (Hildegard Knef, The Snows of Kilamanjaro) who was deported and now being followed by one of the least sexiest men you’ll see (which is funny considering he is ends up almost getting the two leading ladies of the flick).

After a mutiny occurs with the arrival of the hurricane, the captain and passengers abandon ship only to oddly find the ship later on surrounded by killer seaweed. From here, the movie devolves into a crazy series of events involving a killer octopus, a Spanish galleon with El Supremo (Darryl Read, future punk rock legend) in control and surrounded by members of the Spanish Inquisition. However, we do get the lovely Dana Gillespie as Sarah, a young woman who just wanders towards the ship after escaping from El Supremo.

LC 3This movie is all over the place. Sex on the high seas, mysterious cargo, a group of dysfunctional passengers and a crazy lost continent filled with hungry creatures. There are these hilarious looking lighter-than-air balloon devices that apparently allow our characters to walk over the seaweed. And we get a really bad battle between a giant scorpion and killer crab. Not to mention the Spanish galleon sequences, which seem like they’re out of a Mad Max movie. One of the more disjointed efforts from Hammer that is really more of a train wreck.

All of that said, does the movie cross over into the “so bad it’s good” category like the 1951 version? Well, there are some laughably bad moments that are fun. However, it seems like they’re just throwing everything in the film to make every possible type of viewer happy, whether it makes sense or not. Hammer has an incredibly rich library of films to choose from and this shouldn’t be at the top of the list.

Check out the trailer and try to track the film down if you are in the mood for a bizarre flick. I had some fun with it for what it was but definitely not Hammer’s finest hour. The DVD is currently selling for just under $40 as it is out-of-print. Not sure it’s worth that much, so take your time and wait for a better price.

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