The Lost Continent
England's Hammer Films is best known for the blood-drenched gothic horror films it produced from the '50s through the '70s, but it also turned out its fair share of science-fiction and fantasy pictures, as represented by these two entries in Video Treasures' ongoing Hammer reissue series. The Lost Continent, from 1968, follows a suspect ship with suspect passengers and cargo as it is blown off course to land in a strange kingdom of Spanish explorers' swamp-dwelling descendants, who wear giant balloons on their shoulders. Unfortunately, the film takes a long, long time to get to the lost continent of the title, and once it does, the sub-Dr. Who special effects hardly seem worth the wait. Also with its share of bad special effects, but considerably more interesting, is the same year's Quatermass And The Pit (known in America as Five Million Years To Earth). Preceding 2001, Quatermass concerns the unearthing of an ancient spaceship, which contains evidence that aliens may have played a role in our ancient history. A consistently grumpy-looking Andre Morell plays the title character, who is portrayed by other actors in several other British films and TV series. Even if the space creatures look like little more than exceedingly malevolent crickets, this is an atmospheric, intelligent science-fiction entry that could easily serve as a good introduction to a sometimes underappreciated studio. Both films are presented in the letterboxed format with trailers, TV spots and, in the case of The Lost Continent, restored footage, making them ideal for old fans.