I know people usually think of vampires and castles when you start talking about Hammer horror, but Christopher Lee‘s auspicious presence isn’t a prerequisite for every title in Hammer’s catalog. So without Chris Lee what are we going to be watching? How about a dark and ill fated freighter with a motley crew of passengers all sporting mysterious histories. They’re a scrappy group filled with eccentric characters and it’s fun to watch the actors spar with each other as each has a clearly defined role. Lost at sea, the ship gets trapped in a freak formation of tangling seaweed that drags the freighter into a dense fog. The seaweed is a great device that uses old school tricks like reverse photography to wrap around a person’s arms and legs and pull them off the ship to their watery graves. They soon find themselves in a graveyard of ships off the coast of an unfathomable island, fit with giant crab monsters. yes you heard right, crab monsters! As if that wasn’t bad enough, descendants of a crew of Spanish conquistadors have formed a cult and are now coming to claim human sacrifices! It is a little unclear as to whether or not these are in fact ancestors of conquistadors or simply that this “Lost Continent” is some kind of nexus out of time and that everyone here has only just arrived from different time periods. Either way, this is most definitely not the Love Boat.
So the movie has a bit of everything; the adventurous spirit of King Kong, craptastic B-movie crab monsters that need a good stabbing in their eyeballs and a cast of malcontents that all have sob stories to latch onto. Even as the movie opens, the photography looks like a oil painting in the Brandywine School style. (A style of illustration that was brought into popularity on the covers of adventure novels and magazines at the turn of the century.) There are even bizarre moments (as if the movie weren’t already eclectic enough, right?) where the attackers walk across the water to claim their human sacrifices. They’re able to walk by means of giant rubber shoes and what appear to be chest harnesses attached to big helium balloons that I’m guessing keep them light weight and make Jesus’s famous water trick a little easier for the common man. Either way, it’s equal parts glorious and ridiculous.
This movie is one of those lost gems, a possible favorite with all kinds of midnight movie, B-movie, eye rolling fun that throws in everything but the kitchen sink. There’s a darkness and a sense of adventure that is the hallmark of most of Hammer’s movies. Lost Continent has been released on DVD from Anchor Bay as a double feature with the Reptile; a much more boring movie. The only special features on either movie is a cheap featurette that is really only a montage of Hammer footage themed to fit it’s movie. The Lost Continent is a Friday Night Midnight Adventure recommended for all fans of Hammer and 1933’s King Kong. Enjoy.