Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Lost Continent (1968)

Though it's proven to be one of Hammer's greatest achievements, their adaptation of Dennis Wheatley's "The Devil Rides Out" proved to be a bit of a financial disappointment for the studio. So what now? Sure, the studio had been branching out in the world of the fantastic, with the likes of "She" and "One Million Years BC" proving they were capable of more than just Gothic horror tales, but the studio still needed something new. As great as their Dracula and Frankenstein tales may have been, audiences could only see Dracula die so many times. Well, the studio decided to take on another Dennis Wheatley novel in "Uncharted Seas", and call it "The Lost Continent." The end result isn't Hammer's finest moment, but it is one of their most over the top ones.

A cast of wholly unlikable characters (including Hammer vets Suzanna Leigh and Eric Porter) with many personal problems decide to get away from it all in a cruise ship. Well, a storm ends up leaving them stranded in the middle of the ocean, and they end up stranded on a long forgotten island. It's at this point that the movie goes from mundane to "holy shit what the hell am I watching?"

If there are problems plaguing "The Lost Continent", it's that everything that happens before they run into out of the ordinary problems is something of a test on ones patience, and that's because 1.) it's a bit boring, and 2.) as I mentioned, every one of these characters are unlikable. Seriously, how and why anyone would want to put up with this knobs is beyond me, as they do nothing but bicker, fight and drink. Okay, that last part isn't bad, but when it's people you'd want nothing to do with-not so much.

Thankfully, things start to get rolling when our "heroes" encounter some man eating seaweed. It's at this point that the film takes a turn for the totally insane and fun, and it's great that it does so. Sure, it's not particularly scary or atmospheric (save for the inevitable use of fog machines) but that doesn't matter when you've got: man eating seaweed, a giant octopus, a giant scorpion, a giant crab-and said monsters duking it out, Dana Gillespie and her gravity defying breasts, a creature that's a dead ringer for the sarlacc from "Return of the Jedi", and the lost descendants of Spanish conquistadors who are ruled over by a kid known as "El Supremo", which may beat "Vaginamyte" as the best name in genre movie history. So yeah, the movie becomes totally insane and hilarious as it goes along, and that's what makes it so much fun. So what if the script feels like it was written by a pair of 15 year old boys? That's just a part of the appeal.

Besides, there's a character named "El Supremo." Any complaints afterward seem useless.

In short, "The Lost Continent" might not be Hammer's finest hour, but who cares? Fans of ridiculous, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink genre fare will be in heaven. A shame that a sequel never happened, as "The Lost Continent II: The Legend of Supremo's Gold" would have been the bomb.

Rating: 7.5/10

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