Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Lost Continent (1968)

The Lost Continent seem to be one of those movies that been having a renaissance the last couple of years. From reading a lot of negative opinions about it, I’ve found it’s slowly getting a new generation of fans who appreciate it for the excellent movie it is. Sure, it’s not perfect in the sense that its way to short – give me thirty minutes more of monsters and adventures and it would have been one of the ultimate lost world-movies ever made. But what can we do about it today? So I won’t whine about it!

Eric Porter is Captain Lansen, a man in deep economical problems. He decides to make one final trip with his boat, but with the cargo filled with very expensive explosives. He’s planning to sell it once he gets to his destination and then retire. On the ships is also some civilians, among them Eva Peters (Hildegard Knef), the ex-wife of a dictator who’s both stolen 22 million dollars from him and now is on her way to meet up with her young son. Suzanna Leigh is Unity, who travels with her nasty father, Doctor Webster (Nigel Stock) – who just wants the money her mother left for her… and so on. The typical collection of characters…(and the awesome brilliant Tony Beckley is one of them!) Anyway, after a while a disaster happens and they have to abandon the boat – and arrive to a strange island, filled with man-eating sea-weed and inbred inhabitants!

Based on a book by Dennis Wheatley, Uncharted Seas, one of several Hammer-movies that is based on his work. Hammer is of course mostly known for their horror-movies, but they made tons of thrillers, adventures, yes – even sci-fi. The Lost Continent is part good old adventure-at-sea movie, part monster movie and part horror. The horror stuff is quite strong, but can look silly for those who can’t appreciate a nice rubber monster. Some blood, some sexual innuendoes and a quite high body count makes this a lot more mature than a lot of other adventure movies from the same time, and this version I saw is probably – but I’m not sure – the shorter version with less of the adult stuff. The monsters look like a lot of other monsters from UK-productions like Dr Who, Quatermass, Beasts, Day of the Triffids – very rubbery and cartoonish. But they way they use them makes them disturbing. Every monster in this movie has a certain degree of nastiness compared to American counterparts, especially the Sarlacc-style creature living under the boat. The crab-esque monster with a slimly mouth is awesome too!

I guess everything is shot in studio, which give the movie that perfect Sunday-matinee look with a fake sky in the background, rubber-stones and plastic plants. But it’s the dark subjects of the movie that makes it unique and a lot more interesting than I guess most of us could imagine. Every character is very well-written and has several layers, no shallow stuff here mate! My favourite is Unity’s obsession with finding a man on the boat and that she’s trying to lure Tony Beckley into his alcoholism again, what a slut! If she was in an American movie she would die directly, but not here.

Once again I’m surprised of the quality the UK filmmakers always deliver us. It don’t matter what the subject is, they always brings us something a little bit extra. What a dream it must have been to be an actor during this time. You can do a horror or a monster movie, and still get a character so well-written even Ingmar Bergman would be jealous.

Superb entertainment!

(...and I want to own one of those balloon-thingies..)

1 comment:

dfordoom said...

It's one of Hammer's oddest movies but I liked it a great deal. Lots of nicely weird atmosphere.