Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Phantom Empire

Title: Phantom Empire (1986)
Dir: Fred Olen Ray
Rating: * and 1/2 out of 5 stars

This is the epitome of a bad B-movie. Bad acting, worse FX, ridiculous plot, sexploitation - it's all there. If you really dig cheesy 80s sci-fi movies, check it out. Otherwise, you should remember the name Fred Olen Ray because you must avoid his "films" at all costs.

The "plot" of this movie is as follows: two adventurers take a rich socialite lady out to some old caves in search of valuable jewels. These caves are believed to be the home of cannibalistic monsters, but no mind, they go ahead with the expedition accompanied by a professor and a college student in geology. You'll have to excuse me for not using character names - I really don't care enough to look them up.

Anyway, the team encounters some scantily-clad "cave bunnies", the aforementioned murderous monsters, prehistoric dinosaurs, a laser-shooting robot, and an alien queen who plans to enslave the men for breeding purposes (of course).

Empire claims to be a spoof of trashy old sci-fi flicks, but I'm not so sure. There are moments where I can tell the movie is trying to be funny, but at least 85% of the time the movie really is just that shitty. To some degree, that is amusing. When one character accidently drops a flashlight while talking and another character hands it back to him without a word, I laughed. Why the hell would you leave that in the movie? It's like Ed Wood reincarnate.

There were a few moments that amused me, and just occasionally the characters didn't warrant strangulation. This one has, yes, Jeffrey Combs (the reason I rented it). In addition to wearing the tightest jeans I have ever seen on a man, he is pretty funny in this. And he gets lots of cave bunny ass. Well, he would anyway if not for all the dinosaurs and cave trolls. Maybe next time, Jeff.

Everyone else couldn't act for shit but were entertaining on-and-off. It's still far from the worst movie I've ever seen because it does tip-toe toward "so-bad-it's-good" territory. I guess if you're the kind of person who loved Plan 9 From Outer Space BEFORE Tim Burton made Ed Wood, then you just might like this one.