Lost Continent [1951]

Hammer Studios prefigured both the explosion of Bermuda Triangle thrillers and "lost world" adventures with this appropriately gothic 1968 fantasy. Eric Porter stars as the brooding captain of a decrepit scow smuggling illegal explosives with a questionable crew and a desperate cadre of passengers (including Hildegard Kneff, Suzanna Leigh, and Tony Beckley) into a hurricane. The initial melodrama turns to high-seas adventure as the ship battles the storm with volatile cargo and finally to a strange, moody fantasy. The ship becomes entangled in a creeping tangle of aggressive weeds that pulls the vessel deep into a twilight world of monstrous mollusks, snakelike vines with a taste for human flesh, and an insular society descended from rogue elements of the Spanish Inquisition who prey upon the unlucky ships dragged to their hidden island. Rotting galleons set against the creepy orange sky create an unsettling, alien world, like a psychedelic spin on Jules Verne. If the film doesn't match the chills of earlier Hammer thrillers, it more than makes up for it in pure atmosphere and eerie mood. --Sean Axmaker

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