Thursday, 13 January 2011

Hammer's Hidden Horror Haven ...

The Lost Continent

A beleaguered captain of a battered old freight ship sets sail with an illegal cargo, and a small quota of well paying passengers, all with a past that they are running away from. The journey ahead is beset with stormy weather, and what transpires on the horizon is even bleaker !.

Highly revered Shakespearean actor Eric Porter takes the helm as Captain Lansen, his retirement fund tied up in his uninsurable rust bucket of a vessel, and the contents within the bilge of his ship. He is transporting a large quantity of an explosive compound, contained within large sealed canisters. The volatile composition is reactive to water !.

The Lost Continent is a very taught, dark thriller, that develops into a survival film, and throws in some pretty darned cool creatures as well. Based upon the novel by horror author Dennis Wheatley. There is a neat brief observational moment towards the beginning of the film where one of the ships estranged passengers sits reading the Wheatley book.

Evading the harbour commissioners call to board and search the ship Captain Lansen proceeds full steam ahead to the open ocean. His second in command is anxious as to his skippers actions, and the crew become very jittery upon their discovery of what the ship is transporting. With the journey well under way Captain Lansen has nihilistic passengers to contend with and a disgruntled compliment to appease, as well as an even bigger storm front that cannot be avoid.

When the ship runs into trouble negligent deck hands let the anchor flail into the freighters side, breaching the hull and taking on board water into the bilge where the cargo is stored !. Lansen has a mutiny on his hands as the crew seek to abandon ship. It ends in tragedy, leaving the captain and his shady ship guests to secure the bilge and dry contain its combustible contents.

With the storms intensity increasing the Captain Lansen and the survivors have no alternative but to abandon ship themselves. They helm the lifeboat and leave the ship to contest the weather without its compliment. Both spend the night contesting with the elements. The occupants of the lifeboat spend an uneasy night battling for their lives against the conditions and each other !. As dawn breaks they meet with an uneasy quiet calm, shrouded in mist and dense with sea weed and ocean vegetation. This sea foliage is not only all around them but seems to have a life of its own, drawing the lifeboat along in its purposeful wake and displaying threatening signs of vicarious intent !. Captain Lansen has to contend with a flailing sea vine as it embroils itself around his exploratory outstretched arm reaching into the water. It draws blood as the startled Lansen rips it free from his limb.

The rag tag ensembles spirits are lifted as they are surprisingly reunited with their freight ship, itself drawn into the mysterious environment by the pull of the waters thriving landscape. The ships steward greets them. He had chosen to remain on board rather than abandon ship with the rest during the storm. Buoyed by their more familiar surroundings it is not long before they realise that they are not alone in this lost continent !.

After an intriguing and very well fleshed out first half The Lost Continent really comes into its own in the action packed, monster rife, foreboding second act. Captain Lansen and his compatriots are attacked by marauders, themselves marooned in the mire of this pernicious milieu. They are descendants of their Spanish conquistador forefathers, themselves stranded in this hellacious haven for seemingly centuries. Forced to forage the terrain and fight the elements, as well as the insidious harbingers seeking their own sustenance, these fellow survivalists want whatever the newcomers have for themselves !.

Not only do Lansen and company have to contend with inhospitable intent from the Spanish inquisitors, but the savage intent of evolved sea molluscs, killer kelp and a giant crab that can’t wait to get its claws into some human titbits. All of the monstrosities on display literally fill the screen with their size, and are a delight to behold. Old school, created by hand, colourfully scaled creatures worth the price of admission all on their own. Excellent stuff that more than holds its own even in comparison to the advancements in effects technology of today !.
The most recent arrivals to this carnivorous continent receive guidance from a beautiful and buxom young woman named Sarah (Dana Gillespie), an indigenous inhabitant of this uncharted land. Saved from the scurrilous inquisitors by Lansen’s party, she is integral to the marooned newcomers survival. She introduces them to an ingenious method of conveyance across the volatile terrain. An ingenious device of waist harnessed balloons and oversized moccasins for the feet. The balloons supporting the weight of the wearer and the shoes expanding the platform of the person in their advancement across the unstable platform. It is an incredible visual and a must have item for any fancy dress party.

With impressive monsters, malicious sea weeds and cult worshipping conquistadors, as well as the production banner of Hammer Studios, everything about The Lost Continent is in the positive. It is one of those old school movies that actually not only stands the test of time but improves with it !.

The Lost Continent Trailer
Movie Details IMDB

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