Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Weird Wednesday Cinema - The Lost Continent -1968

Back when I was a kid there was one film that haunted me for years. This movie was evocative & had everything that a lost world film should. Monsters, pirates, & Conquistadores as well as lots of violence & action
This would be the Hammer production -
The Lost Continent from 1968 

The 1968 movie The Lost Continent was set in a highly fictionalized Sargasso Sea where Spanish galleons, trapped for centuries in seaweed, are found in modern times, along with a society of descendants of Conquistadores and sea monsters.

The film is relentless & never turns down the pressure, bringing monsters in by the bucket full. Life is a complete struggle in the film & when I read Carcosa I thought of this film. The author describes its use as an rpg kit & this is one setting where it would work. The random weird, mutant sea life that the crew meets is really out of some Lovecraftian hell. Their constant fight for survival is something that seems to come out of a game of Call of Cthulhu or Kult.  

The film is mostly forgotten today except for a few of us die hard cult fans who love it. The sound track at the beginning of the film is like something out of a Lounge singer from one of those trapped cruise ships that stuck in the sea weed. The original sound track is by the Peddlers & its weird.

Notes & Thoughts On The Lost Continent 
Major Spoilers Ahead 

The plot of the film according to Wiki: 
The film begins with a ship slowly moving through mist and a pan shot down the vessel reveals an odd collection of people – Spanish conquistadores, priests, pirates, seamen and finally to 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 – amongst them a Dr Webster (Nigel Stock) and his daughter Unity (Suzanna Leigh) for his indiscretions with patients, an alcoholic conman Harry Tyler (Tony Beckley), and Ms 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.
In the ship's hold the crew comes across a large cache of unknown yellow containers. The captain tells the crew to not ask what is inside the containers but that they must be kept dry and handled securely. The captain is also informed of a storm ahead but ploughs on regardless knowing that the passengers do not want to return to the African port.
Captain Lansen informs his First Officer Hemmings (Neil McCullum) that they are transporting a dangerous explosive – Phosphor B ('Phosphore Blanc', i.e. white phosphorus) – and he demonstrates in a sink what happens if it comes into contact with water - it explodes violently.
When some crew members are ordered to take some slack out of the anchor chain, the anchor windlass breaks and sends the anchorcrashing down the side of the ship and holes the ship right where the explosives are stored. When the emergency pumps are started to try and pump out the store room, the generator breaks and all power is lost to the pumps.
The crew convince the First Officer that it’s too dangerous on-board and that they need to abandon ship. They overpower Captain Lansen and club the ship's Chinese chef unconscious and take to a lifeboat. The passengers and engine room crew decide to remain onboard as the call to abandon ship hasn’t been made by the captain. Whilst attempting to lower the lifeboat, Lansen opens fire on the mutineers and the lifeboat crashes into the sea. The boat survives and the crew row away.
Lansen informs the passengers about the cargo and they help him move it from the flooding storage room. However, the Chief Engineer, Nick (James Cossins) tells Lansen that he cannot fix the generator and the captain decides to abandon ship and gets the remaining crew and passengers into a lifeboat.
The lifeboat survives the storm and the captain tries to maintain morale but arguing breaks out about the supplies and too many people in the lifeboat. The alcoholic Tyler manages to drink a flagon of rum and he and Dr Webster end up in the sea. Dr Webster is devoured by a shark and a fight in the lifeboat sees another crew member shot with a flare gun.
In the morning the lifeboat finds itself surrounded by odd-looking seaweed. Lansen picks a piece of it up and it immediately tightly wraps itself around his hand drawing blood. Lansen manages to just pull it off. On the lifeboat though the injured cook tumbles overboard and it quickly wrapped up by the carnivorous seaweed.
The lifeboat then stumbles into a ship. It transpires to be the Corita with the bartender (Jimmy Hanley) still aboard. They all get aboard the ship but find the propellers are fouled with the seaweed and they are left drifting with the currents. During the night the lawyer is attacked and dragged overboard by a huge octopus.
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 tells 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 remains of the attackers return to a Spanish galleon. On board the galleon we find a child leader – El Supremo (Darryl Read) – the descendent of the Spanish Conquistadores, and members of theSpanish Inquisition who ordered the attack on the Corita to get stores. The failure of the attack sees a member of the attackers thrown into a pit in the ship that contains a sea monster that devours him.
Sarah tells the captain about how her ancestors were trapped in the Sargasso Sea many years before and that they live on an island. They have been at war with the Spanish descendants for many years. Sarah then takes an opportunity to try and return to her island. A few of the crew go after her but get lost in the mist. Sarah finds them but they decide to stay on an island for the night and find the ship in the morning. While on the rock the bartender is attacked and killed by a giant crab which itself is then attacked by a giant scorpion. Sarah and the remaining members of the Corita crew are then captured by the Spanish and taken to the galleon.
Lansen then appears on the galleon to rescue his crew and tell the Spanish that they can join him rather than be under the control of the religious zealots. Even the child leader El Supremo wants to join Lansen but is killed by the head of the Inquisition. The crew battles some the galleon's crew and uses the Phosphor B explosives to set alight the galleon and the seaweed.
The captain, crew and members of the Spanish group who decided to join Lansen then retreat to the Corita. We then return the start of the film with the burial of the child leader. 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.
The film is based on Dennis Wheatley's 1938 novel Uncharted Seas which is mostly forgotten today
 The film is very perfect for horror gaming with a lost world bent. This might be a demi plane or the like. Back when I was playing the Kult Rpg there was a fan created source book about the macro goddess Gia. Basically Gia could be compared with the Wyld in Werewolf. Mother nature & her environs as macro goddess. The Lost Sea was one such location & pretty much fit the bill as the perfect Lost Continent adventure location.  However since most of the readers of this blog are OD&D & retroclone players I'd say use it as a demi plane location which traps the damned souls who wander into it. 

The Sargasso Sea is often portrayed in literature and the media as an area of mystery. We've seen it a million times & even on Saturday morning cartoons there's a hint of the brooding mystery that seems to hang over the place. 
Yup Johnny Quest had a slip into the old Sargasso back in the 60s. It has only a hint of the air of mystery & restrained violence about the place that Lost Continent does 

Appendix N For The Sargasso Sea According To Wiki  
Here's a partial list from Wiki that needs to be expanded but it covers a good amount literature & film. 
The Sargasso Sea features in classic fantasy stories by William Hope Hodgson, such as his novel The Boats of the "Glen Carrig" (1907), Victor Appleton's Don Sturdy novel, Don Sturdy in the Port of Lost Ships: Or, Adrift in the Sargasso Sea, and several related short stories.Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea describes the Sargasso Sea and gives an account of its formation.[9]
Edwin Corley's novel, Sargasso, revolves around a fictional account of Apollo 19 splashing down in the Sargasso sea empty. In Marvel 1602, it is where the Fantastick Four gained their powers. Jean Rhys's novel Wide Sargasso Sea plays with the idea that a woman can become lost in her own society and thus driven out of her mind, à la Charlotte Brontë's mad woman in the attic. Fred Andrew's mystery novel Plato's Pond [10] features the fictitious land of Gaia, which is a continent in the middle of the Sargassum Sea.
The Sargasso Sea was the venue for the Doc Savage adventure "The Sargasso Ogre" written by Lester Dent under the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson and published in the October 1933 issue of the Doc Savage pulp magazine.[11][12]
The 1923 silent film The Isle of Lost Ships an atmospheric adventure from director Maurice Tourneur takes place in the Sargasso Sea. The film was based on Crittenden Marriott's 1909 novel The Isle of Dead Ships. The Isle of Lost Ships is now a lost film.
The 1960-62 live action/marionette children's syndicated television show, Diver Dan contained at least two episodes set in the Sargasso Sea, Ep. 21 Sargasso Sea [1] and Ep. 22 Lost in the Sargasso Sea [2]. For many children of the baby boomer generation, that was their first introduction to the existence and novelty of the Sargasso Sea.
The first episode of Jonny Quest: Season 1, Episode 1 (18 Sep. 1964), The Mystery of the Lizard Men. A foreign power uses the Sargasso Sea to conduct laser experiments and employs "lizard men" to scare away potential interlopers. [13]
The 1968 movie The Lost Continent was set in a highly fictionalized Sargasso Sea where Spanish galleons, trapped for centuries in seaweed, are found in modern times, along with a society of descendants of Conquistadores and sea monsters.
The 1912 poem "Portrait D'une Femme" by Ezra Pound alludes to the Sargasso Sea in the line "Your mind and you are our Sargasso Sea, London has swept about you this score years".[14]
In the 1978 Anime television series, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Captain Harlock went to the Sargasso Sea where crew would encounter false lost ships.[15]
The 2007 music video for the song Dashboard by indie group Modest Mouse features a sea captain telling the story of how he lost his hand to a giant fish while sailing in Sargasso Sea.
The 2012 dance "Seaweed" [3] performed by performance artist Theresa Elliot was inspired by the Sargasso Sea.
                                                                  A Few Quick Notes 
  • I have a set of D30 encounters for the Lost Continent if anyone's interested & I'll post those coming up tomorrow. 
  • This location might work very well with the Isle of Dread Module if you were to redo some of the encounters.. 
  • The Wiki entry for the movie can be found right .Here
  • It was rated an X certificate when originally released. It retains some of its violence & adult content. Consider yourself warned. 
  • There are those who think that this area may connect to the Earth's Core & its environs..Here 
  • You can watch the entire film on Google Video just do a quick search & enjoy.


  1. Great overview of an under utilized (at least in gaming) subgenre.

  2. Thanks & this setting is going to get a work out rather soon. I'm brewing up some really interesting ideas with this. Thanks for the comment Trey! There's more to come.


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