Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Phantom Empire (1986)

Another gem of low budget craziness. Directed by Fred Olen Ray.
According to the DVD Box it's a 'Sci-Fi Epic of Humongous Proportions !' The actual film was shot in 6 days on 1 location using money from Fred Olen Ray himself.

'The Phantom Empire is the story of a group of five adventurers lead by Cort Eastman (Ross Hagen) and his sidekick Eddy Colchilde (Dawn Wildsmith) who’re after a treasure in jewels that are thought to be stored in a cave below the surface of the Earth inhabited by cannibal mutants. Accompanied by Professor Stock (Robert Quarry), Andrew Paris (Jeffrey Combs), and Denae Chambers (Susan Stokey) they soon find they’ve bit off more than they can chew when they’re taken captive by a gang of cave girls lead by an evil Alien Queen (Sybil Danning). The team finds themselves mixed up in a lost world underneath the surface with dangers of all kinds, including dinosaurs and mutants, around every corner.'
DVD Maniacs

The film uses Stop-Motion sequences from a 1978 film called Planet of the Dinosaurs and Forbidden Planet star Robbie the Robot makes an appearance, although he's been given a bit of a make over. Also seen is one of the vehicles from TV's Logans Run.

At 83 minutes in length, just like The Lost Empire which I mentioned the other day, you really shouldn't be expecting the 'Sci-Fi Epic of Humongous Proportions !' that the box promises or you're going to be very disappointed. Sybil Danning who played Saint-Exmin in Battle Beyond the Stars and is soon to be seen in the Rob Zombie section of the Rodriguez/Tarantino movie Grindhouse has a lot of fun hamming it up as the Alien Queen. There does seem to be a connection with Low Budget films = Ample bosomed females, but it's the story that counts in a film like this...honest ! Also seen is low budget stalwart Jeffrey Combs who's previous film to this was the Horror Classic Re-Animator. Combs is always worth watching, he's like Bruce Campbell, he just brings something to a movie even this tacky.

The DVD is said to be a transfer from the original 35mm negative and it features interviews with Fred Olen Ray, Sybil Danning etc... as well as a commentary track by Ray and his Cinematographer Gary Graver.

Again I paid under £5 for this so don't pay over the odds if you decide to take the risk and buy this.


Jim said...


I. N. J. Culbard said...

My Gawd!!! My eyes are bleeding!

Andrew Glazebrook said...

The Phantom Empire is what the Phantom Menace should have been !! :)

I. N. J. Culbard said...

Are you trying to tell me it's better than Return of the Jedi???!?!?!??


Andrew Glazebrook said...

I'll say this,there's 2 good reasons to watch this film and Sybil Danning is the owner of both of them !

I. N. J. Culbard said...

You must have found some bits of Phantom Menace enjoyable. You must have. The shoot out in the palace corridor on Naboo? What about .... the shoot out in the palace corridor on Naboo? Oh, and who the hell could forget the shoot out in the palace corridor on Naboo? All three of those scenes... classic Star Wars. C'mon.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

The Phantom Menace is by a long way the best of the Prequels,for all it's faults it's head and shoulders above Attack of the Clones and the dire Revenge of the Sith,it's just as a Star Wars movie The Phantom Menace is still pretty poor.

I. N. J. Culbard said...

Actually, have to say, I preferred Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith to TPM. My main pet hate with TPM was midiclorines (or however you spell it) turning something mystical into something scientific. Compared to that, everything else in the movie is forgivable. Even Jar Jar wasn't as big a mistake as that. All my years of trying to harness the force and suddenly I found out I don't have any midiclorines. Boom. Someone just took a 12-bore to my childhood memories and blew a hole in them.

... with AotC it was the platform video game factory sequence, and the sound of music sequence on Naboo. when I went to see it on the big screen, I went to the toilet at that point and didn't hurry back. I loved the opening to AotC. That big silver ship with the flying fort sound as it flew past the camera. Totally Flash Gordon and utterly gorgeous.

Quite enjoyed TRotS. But then I didn't go and see that on the big screen and I suspect that may be a contributing factor to my enjoyment of it. I waited till after the hype and simply bought it on DVD.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

My reasons for liking the TPM over the others are more technical and cinematic reasons than characters and plot points although that does come into it slightly. I may make a future post about why I still think TPM is a very flawed Star Wars film but the best of the prequels !