Review Date: February 16, 2000
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 11/23/1999
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.77:1|16x9: Yes
In 1968, Hammer studios released the film, The Lost Continent
, which is based on the novel, Uncharted Seas
by Dennis Wheatley. This film is a departure from most Hammer films, gone is the Gothic horror that most fans had come to expect. Gone are the Vampires, Baron Frankensteins and Mummies, instead we see a modern day story filled with mutiny, mutated sea creatures, maidens in distress and followers of the Spanish Inquisition. Anchor Bay has taken a classic film and given it a polished look and in the process recovered eight minutes of never-before-seen footage.
A burial at sea with a motley group of mourners and the Captain asking the questions, "What happened to us....how did we all get here?"....
The Corrilta is a tramp steamer with a small crew and an even smaller passenger list. Captain Lansen, the owner as well as the Captain of this ship is in a hurry to leave the last port of call and head out to sea before a customs inspection. It doesn't take long for some members of the crew to discover that they are carrying an illegal cargo of explosives that if not kept perfectly dry, will explode. Panic soon hits several members of the crew when a Hurricane is forecast, the ship begins to take on water following an accident and the generators begin to fail. Several members of the crew stage a mutiny and abandon the ship in one of the lifeboats, not to be seen again. After a valiant attempt by the remaining crew and passengers to move the explosive cargo to a dry area, Captain Lansen calls for the abandonment of the ship and the remaining crew and passengers take the last lifeboat.
Once at sea in the lifeboat and having survived the storm, the passengers and crew form an uneasy alliance with bickering breaking out among the group. It doesn't take long for a major altercation to break out and the surviving numbers are depleted by two. The lifeboat is soon surrounded by dense seaweed and upon closer inspection, Captain Lansen finds the weed definitely has a taste for human flesh. Suddenly and just as inexplicably, the lifeboat finds itself back at the Corrilta and all quickly reboard.
Once onboard, the ship and it's survivors find that they are being pulled deeper into the Sargasso Sea by the mutated weed and soon encounter the first of the mutated sea creatures. The Corrilta and her passengers slowly find themselves floating in a graveyard of ships that have been destroyed by the pressure of the seaweed crushing their hulls. In the distance land is spotted.
A young woman walking on the seaweed with the aid of balloons, forewarns the ship and it's occupants of an impending attack by citizens of the distant island. She informs the passengers of the Corrilta that she and her people have endured centuries of enslavement and torture at the hands of followers of the Spanish Inquisition, that they have been trapped on the island with no hope of escape for centuries. From this point on in the film we see sword fights, shootings, a taste of torture and a few more sea creatures thrown in until all questions asked in the opening scenes are answered.
The Lost Continent
is one of my favorite Hammer films, it is the first Hammer film I ever saw on TV, so it holds a special place in my heart and seeing the efforts of Anchor Bay to bring this film to DVD was a real treat. The characters in this film are not developed too much, with the exception of Captain Lansen, played by Eric Porter and Eva Peters portrayed by, Hildegard Knef. These two characters have numerous conflicts but you also sense an underlying attraction between the two and the other characters in the film compliment them well.
Most of this film takes place in the confined spaces of the ship or the lifeboat, so little to see as far as sets, but with the limited sets, you do have a sense of reality, so I'd say they work quite well. The creature effects while strictly *B* are still quite effective and fun to see.
Anchor Bay presents The Lost Continent
letterboxed at 1.77:1 and it is enhanced for 16x9 TV, too. In video releases of this film, the picture was always quite dark, but here we have a superb transfer. The picture is bright with sharp and solid colors. The flesh tones appear natural and smooth and the blacks are nice and solid with no grain apparent. There is minimal print damage with just one or two noticeable spots, but nothing to distract from the viewing of the film.
Presented in Mono Dolby Digital, Gerard Schurmann's score is perfect for this film and once again proves how serious Hammer Studios took musical scores for all films they produced. The title tune is a catchy, finger-snapping tune that I personally love. Dialogue was clear and free of any discernible hissing or popping..
Here we have a theatrical trailer and a TV spot, both are in B&W. The main point of interest to Hammer fans would be the World of Hammer episode entitled, Lands Before Time, which was narrated by the late, Oliver Reed. This episode includes films that dealt with themes from past history or a crossover of stories with the past being thrust into present day, the films covered in this narration include: Blood From the Mummy's Tomb, Creatures the World Forgot, The Lost Continent, One Million Years BC, She, Slavegirls, Vengeance of She, Viking Queen.
Since this is a favorite film of mine, I couldn't be happier that Anchor Bay has released this film to DVD and given it a polished look with a nice supplement being the Lands Before Time episode. It would be so easy for me to say this is without a doubt Hammer's best effort, but the fact remains, it isn't. This is by no means a horrible film, but rather a film that may be an acquired taste for some. It's definitely worth checking out and Anchor Bay has given it a wonderful presentation.
Image Quality – B+
Sound – A
Supplements – C
- Running Time - 1 hour 37 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- 30 Chapter Stops
- Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spot
- Original uncensored version, including 8 minutes of never-before-seen footage
- World of Hammer Episode: Lands Before Time
- Includes a 5"x7" Theatrical Poster Facsimile