Don't make Mogyar angry...
you wouldn't like him when he's angry.
We knew The Lost Continent was going to be a weird film from frame one. The first thing with which it assails us is a creepily upbeat torch song about the lost continent, set to a tune which is eerily similar to the theme from the Odd Couple TV series:
This forbidden sho-o-o-ore
that the sto-o-orm
to the Lost Continent...
The visuals that accompany this surreal ditty are equally creepy: Derelict ships trapped in seaweed underneath a yellow sky. The kicker is that the film actually manages to get weirder.
We have fond childhood memories of seeing this film, and equally fond memories of the horrible, scarring nightmares it gave us. This is a film that just won't quit throwing baffling and disturbing images at the viewer. Its heroes are imperfect and sometimes unlikable, the landscape unfamiliar and terrifying, and the morals behind the story are bizarre. Still, those readers with a taste for giant monsters and bizarre time-twisting action films may have good cause to seek it at their local video outlets.
Now that's what we call a cruise director!
A scene from Love Boat: The Last Wave.
The Lost Continent starts out like the Love Boat on acid. The good freighter Corita leaves port in South Africa, carrying a crew and passengers who all have horrible secrets. There's Dr. Webster (Nigel Stock), who is fleeing some botched operations he performed, and his daughter Unity (Suzanna Leigh), who sleeps with everything vaguely male, including sailors. Eva Peters (Hildegard Knef) is an actress who has stolen a large amount of money from a South American country. Even the ship's piano player is a drunk. And the captain has the worst secret of all. It seems that the leaky ship is carrying tons of "phosphor B," a substance that explodes when it gets wet. Uh oh.
Pretty soon the Corita has wandered into a storm, and the crew decide to mutiny and leave rather than stay on an exploding ship. It's not hard to see their point. The captain and passengers decide to ride it out, and try to get the phosphor B out of the hold, which is flooding rapidly. Eventually even they decide the ship is a lost cause, and they leave in a lifeboat. They float around for a while, sniping at each other like children, before getting caught in a mass of man-eating seaweed. Yes, you read that correctly. Not a man eating seaweed, but seaweed that eats people -- and chirps like the ants in Them! while it does the deed.
Thus begins the KKK outreach program
for Foppish Youths.
In a bizarre plot twist, the seaweed floats our characters back to the Corita, still afloat but caught in a ton of the killer kelp. Our main characters decide, hey, maybe the seaweed will take us some place good!
Eventually the Corita comes to rest in a huge ships' graveyard. This Sargasso Sea is even populated by a group of Spanish conquistadors who have been stranded for hundreds of years. The Spaniards have enslaved the inhabitants of other ships that have become trapped in the seaweed, and they have even managed to come up with a method of crossing the deadly terrain. The conquistadors wear snowshoes that float and lighter than air balloons on their backs. If there's another film with balloon-wearing conquistadors walking on man-eating seaweed, we want to see it. Plus, they've got a Spanish Inquisition-style theocracy blooming. What's that? You weren't expecting the Spanish Inquisition?
This brings up a question of truth in advertising. Apparently, the conquistadors' little empire is set up on all the different ships trapped in the seaweed, and maybe on the few small rocky islands that seem to be scattered about. So can this really be the titular continent? And even if it really is a continent, is it really a lost continent? No one in their right mind would be looking for it.
Feed me, Boba Fett! Feed me!
When a significant amount of time has passed after a viewing of The Lost Continent, you might almost think that you had dreamt the whole thing. It certainly has the look of a fever dream, and all the coherency of a chemically-induced conversation with one's self. Still, do you think you're deranged enough to come up with the monster maw that the balloon people keep, Rancor-like, in a pit beneath a wrecked galleon? To stretch the Star Wars reference a bit further, we can't help but wonder if Lucas saw this film and used it as an inspiration for the Sarlacc Pit in Return of the Jedi. There is also a scene that involves a fight behind a giant scorpion and giant hermit crab. The latter looks a hell of a lot like Mogyar from Kraa! The Sea Monster.
It's tough for us to suggest this movie to anyone, just because it's so darned unpleasant for most of its running time. For years we had a hard time proving that this film even existed, due to its lack of availability on video until recently. Thank you Anchor Bay, for proving that our childhood nightmares do have some basis in reality -- sort of.