The Lost Continent (1968 film)
|The Lost Continent|
|Directed by||Michael Carreras|
|Produced by||Michael Carreras|
|Written by||Michael Nash aka Michael Carreras|
|Based on||Uncharted Seas|
by Dennis Wheatley
|Music by||Soundtrack |
|Edited by||James Needs|
|Distributed by||Warner-Pathé (UK)|
20th Century Fox (US)
The Lost Continent is a 1968 adventure film made by Hammer Films and Seven Arts featuring Eric Porter, Hildegard Knef, Suzanna Leigh, Tony Beckley, and James Cossins. The film was produced, directed and written by Michael Carreras based on Dennis Wheatley's novel Uncharted Seas (1938).
The film sees the crew and passengers of the dilapidated tramp steamer Corita heading from Freetown to Caracas. While the passengers all have their own reasons for getting out of Africa, the captain of the ship is also eager to leave, as he is smuggling a dangerous explosive cargo. Whilst en route to South America the ship is holed and eventually what's left of the crew and passengers find themselves marooned in a mist-enshrouded Sargasso Sea surrounded by killer seaweed, murderous crustaceans and previously marooned descendants of Spanish Conquistadores and pirates.
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The film begins with a ship slowly moving through mist and carrying an odd collection of people – Spanish conquistadores, priests, pirates, seamen, and finally the captain of ship, who is reading the burial rites over a coffin. The coffin is subsequently ditched overboard, and the captain asks "What happened to us? How did we all get here...?" The film then cuts back in time to previous events.
On the bridge of the tramp steamer Corita, Captain Lansen (Eric Porter) orders his crew to avoid the repeated requests of a customs launch from the port of Freetown to stop for inspection. The captain orders the ship full steam ahead and to avoid the usual shipping lanes on its way to Caracas.
The passengers on board all have various reasons for leaving Freetown: Dr. Webster (Nigel Stock) and his daughter Unity (Suzanna Leigh) for his indiscretions with patients; an alcoholic conman Harry Tyler (Tony Beckley); and Eva Peters (Hildegard Knef), who has stolen bearer bonds to pay for the ransom on her son in Caracas, but who has a lawyer, Ricaldi (Ben Carruthers), after her to retrieve them.
Captain Lansen informs his First Officer Hemmings (Neil McCallum) that they are transporting the dangerous explosive Phosphor B ('Phosphore Blanc', i.e. white phosphorus), which explodes violently if it comes into contact with water.
When some crew members are ordered to take some slack out of the anchor chain, the anchor windlass breaks and sends the anchor crashing down the side of the ship, holing the hull right where the explosives are stored. When the emergency pumps are started to try and pump out the store room, the generator breaks down, and all power is lost.
The crew convince Hemmings that they need to abandon ship. Overpowering Captain Lansen and clubbing the ship's Indian chef (Shivendra Sinha) unconscious, they take to a lifeboat and row away. Chief Engineer Nick (James Cossins) tells Lansen that he cannot fix the generator, so the captain decides to abandon ship and gets the remaining crew and passengers into a lifeboat. The lifeboat survives the storm, but Dr Webster is devoured by a shark.
In the morning, the lifeboat finds itself surrounded by odd-looking seaweed, which draws blood from Lansen when he picks up a piece. However, the injured cook becomes delirious, tumbles overboard, and is quickly enveloped by the carnivorous seaweed. The lifeboat then finds the Corita, with the bartender (Jimmy Hanley) still aboard, and the propellers fouled with the seaweed. During the night, Unity is attacked by a huge octopus, which kills Ricaldi when he attempts to rescue her.
The next day, a girl called Sarah (Dana Gillespie) appears walking on the weed, using large shoes and lighter-than-air balloons attached to her shoulders. She warns the captain they will be attacked soon, and shortly thereafter, the ship is attacked by a number of Spanish soldiers/pirates. The crew and passengers fight them off, and the surviving attackers return to a Spanish galleon. On board the galleon, we find child leader "El Supremo" (Darryl Read), the descendant of the Spanish Conquistadores, and members of the Spanish Inquisition who ordered the attack on the Corita in order to get stores. The failure of the attack sees the leader of the attackers fed to a sea monster in a pit.
Sarah tells Lansen about how her ancestors were trapped in the Sargasso Sea many years before, and that they live on an island and have been at war with the Spanish descendants for many years. Sarah tries to return to her island, but some of the men track her down. While on the rock, the bartender is attacked and killed by a giant hermit crab, which itself is killed by a giant scorpion. Sarah, the ship's chief, and Tyler are then captured by the Spanish and taken to the galleon.
Lansen then appears on the galleon to rescue his people and tells the Spanish that they can join him rather than be under the control of the religious zealots. Even "El Supremo" wants to come along, but he is killed by the head of the Inquisition. The crew battles some of the galleon's crew and use the Phosphor B explosives to set alight the galleon and the seaweed.
Lansen and his crew, along with those Spaniards who have decided to join Lansen, withdraw to the Corita. We then return to the start of the film with the burial of "El Supremo". The ship is seen moving through the mist, leaving the viewer to decide whether they are still trapped or sailing away from the "Lost Continent".
- Eric Porter as Captain Lansen
- Hildegard Knef as Eva Peters
- Suzanna Leigh as Unity Webster
- Tony Beckley as Harry Tyler
- Nigel Stock as Dr Webster
- Neil McCallum as First Officer Hemmings
- Ben Carruthers as Ricaldi
- Jimmy Hanley as Patrick, bartender
- James Cossins as Nick, chief engineer
- Dana Gillespie as Sarah
- Darryl Read as El Supremo
- Victor Maddern as The mate
- Reg Lye as The Helmsman
- Norman Eshley as Jonathan
- Michael Ripper as Sea Lawyer
- Directed by Michael Carreras
- Produced by Michael Carreras
- Music by Gerard Schürmann and title song by The Peddlers
- Special effects by Robert A Mattey
A 175,000 gallon tank was constructed at Elstree Studios to shoot the sea scenes. The credits list Michael Nash — a pseudonym for Michael Carreras — as the screenwriter.
The production began under the direction of Leslie Norman, but he was soon replaced by Carreras. Hammer's musical director Philip Martell rejected the original film score by Benjamin Frankel and commissioned a new one from Gerald Schumann.
The film titles has the song Lost Continent performed by The Peddlers played over them.
- The Isle of Lost Ships (1923). Also set in the Sargasso Sea.
- The Isle of Lost Ships (1929). Also set in the Sargasso Sea.
- Bruce G. Hallenbeck, British Cult Cinema: Hammer Fantasy and Sci-Fi, Hemlock Books 2011 p176
- "The Lost Continent (1968)". BFI.
- p.49 Huckvale, David Hammer Film Scores and the Musical Avant-Garde McFarland, 01/01/2008