The Lost Continent, 1968. 6.5/10

Nothing like a mash-up of genres: adventure, romance, crime/ mystery and sci-fi. When mutinous crew members abandon a contraband-carrying, explosive-laden ship, the passengers get stuck in a sea-weed black hole of sorts. That is, Shanghaied in a dystopian world with descendents of Spanish conquistadors, various other shipwrecked survivors, and some unsavory flora and fauna.

Our lineup stars (with stars-crossed?) Eric Porter, Hildegarde Knef, Suzanna Leigh, Tony Beckley, Nigel Stock, Neil McCallum, Ben Carruthers, Jimmy Hanley, and James Cossin, as, respectively, Captain Lansen, Eva, Unity Webster, Henry Tyler, Dr. Webster, First Officer Hemmings, Ricaldi, (bartender) Patrick, and Nick, the ship’s engineer.

We’re given a taste as the credits roll, we’re in a red-tinted landscape, incongruously post-apocalyptic and pre-historic. Aboard a galleon, there’s a nice 16th century funeral in progress, with 20th century overtones. Good thing there’s a flashback: 1968 sounds ok.

The ship Carita is being hailed by customs officials, but the Captain ignores them, full speed ahead! Meanwhile, below deck, there’s a real hip scene in the bar “we’re all on the wrong boat, lady” quips Henry to Eva. The suave looking dude, Ricaldi, brooding nearby knows her, makes some cryptic comments.

In the hold, the crew eyes the phosphorus load, “keep it dry” is all the Captain will say about it. Meanwhile, on the bridge, the Captain and Hemmings have a weird discussion about turning back–they ask the passengers whether they want to stay with the crew or not.

Lansen and Hemmings look at a sample of the explosive stuff: a little dumped in the sink ignites like crazy when the faucet’s turned on. The idea is to sell the stuff in Caracas, make “a nice little nest-egg.” Ricaldi is ransacking Eva’s cabin, then pushes her around–its a blackmail shakedown. Guess she’s having an affair.

Meanwhile, Unity is flouncing around, cussing out her dad. He’s been up to something, “illegal operations” is our clue. On deck, there’s a mess: looks like they unintentionally dropped anchor, which somehow pierced the hull, inundating the nasty stuff. But why hasn’t the ship blown up?

Whatever, looks like a mutiny, as the sensible ones want to abandon ship. Weirdly, the passengers don’t seem to care. The doctor is asked to do some emergency surgery on the injured officer. The Captain levels with the passengers about the dangerous cargo.

Finally looks like they’re all going to pitch in and move the little yellow depthcharge cannisters away from the standing water. Complicating matters is a quickly brewing storm. Now they’re going to abandon ship. Seems like that’s all that’s been talked about so far.

Ah, yes, the calm life in the lifeboat. No idea why they listen to the captain, he caused all the problems. Anyway, adrift on a too blue sea, more lecherous looks centered on Eva; the movie of lechers, it seems. Drunks too: “You filthy drunken fool!” Man overboard, shark to starboard.

Flare gun to the gut–nice work, Eva, way to break up a fight! Suddenly, in the fog: everpresent monstrous seaweed. Chomps down on its first victim. They come up alongside the Carita, apparently not really abandoned. They’re even fixing to get underway. How did Unity manage to salvage her wardrobe? Anyway, she and Henry have a quiet dinner.

We hear creepy sci-fi creature noises out there: plus, they’re stuck in this Saragasso Sea “we’ll go where the weed takes us.” What a trip! More romancing, and no problem with partying…maybe they could use some weed, as Harry is a recovering alcoholic.

Up on deck with Ricaldi, Unity gets attacked by a giant octopus. Cool quasi-twilght as they’re adrift where “all the ships in the world have come to die.” They spy land. What’s those thingies moving around there? Well, one of them is a woman who seems to need help, like a refugee.

What’s with the balloons that she and her pursuers are holding onto?Somebody’s birthday? Anyway, time to repel the boarding party; bad guys roll in with cutlasses and muskets–pirates, of a sort. I just can’t take a bad-ass conquistador seriously if he’s got balloons tied to him.

Now we see the conquistador headquarters–a haunted looking wrecked galleon, with a wimpish looking teenager as the chief, El Supremo (Eddie Powell) that is. Looks like it’s annihlation in a carnivorous sea weed pit for the loser leader of the assault force.

Sarah (Dana Gillespie), the outcast, gives the travelers a rundown on her ‘people,’ that is, not the rebooted Spaniards, but their shipwrecked prisoners. More melodrama with our out-of-it passengers and crew, this time Eva and the captain, quarreling about her….family history, whatever. Back on deck, Sarah moons and moans, then disappears.

Now, why are ‘our’ guys wearing these stupid balloons? Anyway, she’s located. What are these nutty green eyes lurking out there? From some pretty cool scorpion/turtle monsters. And we get monster on monster violence. And seaweed is playing peeping Tom. Good time for the Inquisitor to show up.

What else can happen? Another crew fight, of course. Any, back at the Spanish HQ, another El Supremo rant “you are heretics and blasphemers!!” Big deal. We knew that before the voyage got underway. Actually, the Spaniards want to escape too, or at least some of them. Even El Supremo.

More battling, a big fire in the gross seaweed pit (it burns?). Turns out Mr. Inquisitor was wearing the pointy hood for cosmetic reasons: he must be an actual conquistador, as he looks 400 years old. Finally, the modern set catapult the phosphorus barrels (remember that stuff?) into the already flaming galleon. Nice exploding ship. Somehow the entire seaweed nest burns up too, freeing the ship, and our minds from this miasma. The end, thankfully.

I’ve got to admit that this was entertaining. In a sort of found-art way–some of the incongruities complement each other, others, no so much. For example, the strange segue from the ship drama to the seaweed netherworld was oddly successful. On the other hand, the constant romance interests were forced (literally in a few instances), and fell flat every time.

A more basic question is why the erstwhile Spanish guys didn’t rebel, and/or try to leave, before the arrival of our heroes. After all, there was nothing remarkable about the Carita’s gang of misfits. I like that nobody went on and on about how all these fantastic things could be happening; but no one seemed to question the presence of a world that was essentially built on a gigantic sentient creature. The phosphorus? About as explosive as dirt–unless its designated quality is needed–then it’s pretty much nuclear.

How about the ‘stand alone’ monsters roaming around? The balloons are complete absurdities–again, no explanation. On the other hand, the visuals were appropriately alien and bizarre; not to mention unique.

This is worth a look for the oddity factor alone–just don’t expect to figure it out. I suppose that’s the point. 6.5 of 10.

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