The Phantom Empire (Video 1988) Poster

(1988 Video)

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5/10
Fred Keeps on Working It
Scott_Mercer26 January 2006
Fred Olen Ray is a cool dude. He's made over 100 movies, but this was made somewhat early on in his career. This film is a throwback to 1950's Z-grade monster cheapies, with a bit of 1930's serials thrown in as well. Yes, this film is beyond low budget. This is one of those flicks where they schlep a camera up to Bronson Canyon, and spend most of the movie running back and forth down the same cave. Also we get a side trip to Vasquez Rocks, which should be very familiar to fans of old sci-fi or old B-Westerns. The plot: is that really important? Just know we've a got a bad Indiana Jones rip-off played by Robert Quarry, his hard-drinking female second, a half-naked mute cave girl, the guy from "Reanimator", Sybil Danning as the "Alien Queen", and Robby the Robot shows up, amongst other foolishness I can't even remember.

If you get the DVD, listen to Fred's commentary track, which is invaluable for film fanatics and aspiring indie filmmakers. Fred records great commentaries, filled with hilarious anecdotes about the world of zero-budget filmdom. This is no exception. So, on that basis, I give the movie a 5 out of 10. But I realize that most film goers don't share the love of low-budget sci-fi films that I do, so buy with caution.
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4/10
Goes from embarrassingly awful to enjoyably awful....
gridoon6 May 2007
....and that happens at around the 50-minute mark, when Sybil (as a character in the film exclaims, "WOW!") Danning appears, well-cast as a fighting alien queen. Up until then "The Phantom Empire" is a plodding, sleep-inducing trek, and the cannibals with Halloween masks over their faces and old rags for clothes are beneath Z-grade cinema. The sole bright spot is Michelle Bauer as a bikini-clad "cave bunny". After Danning's entrance, the viewer can at least focus on her phenomenal figure, and it's easier to forgive the unimpressive stop-motion animation effects (I think "One Million Years B.C.", from 1965, has a better dinosaur battle than the one featured here). But if you want to see something from Fred Olen Ray that looks more like a real film and less like a college project, seek out his "Cyclone" from the following year. (*1/2)

P.S.: To claim that you watched this film "for the dinosaurs" is like claiming that you watched "Jurassic Park" for the T & A.
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Too cheap to be good, but Danning is always a plus
udar5513 July 2011
Another 80s Fred Olen Ray flick I had never seen, but knew quite well due to seeing stills of Sybil Danning in her tight leather outfit. Denae Chambers (Susan Stokey) hires Cort Eastman (Ross Hagen) and his female sidekick Eddy (Dawn Wildsmith) to help locate a rumored lost world in the center of the earth that might have tons of priceless jewels. Joining them on their expedition are Prof. Strock (Robert Quarry) and Andrew Paris (Jeffrey Combs). What they find after venturing 15 miles into a cave is another world ruled by an alien queen (Sybil Danning). This is so-so stuff from Ray that doesn't really pick up until the last 20 minutes. The best thing about it (other than Michelle Bauer getting topless) is the rapport between hard drinking Cort and Eddy. Combs is also an always welcome presence. Seeing this, DEEP SPACE, THE TOMB and PRISON SHIP all so close together also makes me respect the acting of Stokey as she played wildly different characters in each one. And, of course, Danning in anything 80s is require viewing. Yowza!
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3/10
Hahahahaha!!!
Tim Irwin8 January 2004
This is hilarious. A classic camp movie, it's just awful in every way. The acting is half a step above terrible, the soundtrack is horrendous, and the directing is barely mediocre. Yet it was still fun, for me at least. The plot alone was enough to watch it. It should have been called "Attack of the Amazon Women from Outer Space Who Have Robots and Who Fight Underground Cannibals and Capture Normal People." Absolutely hilarious. Enjoyable if you're a fan of campy films, but still just a 3 out of 10.
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4/10
Running for the title of worst movie of all time
pumaye22 September 2003
You know from the start that will be a harsh movie to go through, but you sincerely hope in something better when it is finished. Not even campy, but a real shame of a movie, made with cheap sets, terrible script, not even enough nudes to justify the rent. A real waste of time
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Robots and dinosaurs
unbrokenmetal26 February 2008
Despite the title, not a remake of the 1935 trash classic with Gene Autry. In this Fred Olen Ray movie, an expedition enters a (very bright) dark cave and discovers cave girls including the cute Michelle Bauer, dinosaurs, cannibals, a robot firing green laser beams and, above all, the voluptuous Sybil Danning as a black leather alien queen. Now, read it slowly again. Does that make any sense? No, it doesn't, you can't even land a space ship in a cave with walls all around. Therefore, no need to argue whether it's a bad movie, since you already know the answer. This is mindless fun for a special audience, and if you like to see Sybil Danning kill a tiny stop animation dinosaur with a spear, get your copy.
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for die-hard F O Ray fans only
babeulous24 March 2001
Rent this picture only if you're trying to see everything Fred Ray ever made. Ms. Danning struts around in a black leather outfit with big shoulders and a cutout for her cleavage. Poor stop-frame dinosaur animation. No character development. Trite story. Skinny "cave bunnies," no titillation value. Unconvincing, pathetic troglodyte zombies.
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2/10
The video cover says 'Trash with Flash' Well, they got the first bit right.
G.Spider30 June 1999
Scientists discover an underground lost world populated by cavemen and dinosaurs. There's a novelty. There must be more 'lost worlds' on this planet than there are 'found worlds'.

I only saw this film to see the dinosaur footage blatantly lifted from a never-seen dinosaur movie called 'Planet of the Dinosaurs', but a few minutes of a Tyrannosaur fighting the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms don't justify a film. 'Phantom Empire' might provide short-term entertainment to some, but it's just a waste of time, an insult to superior films of this genre. Most of the effects (aside from the footage) are dreadful, the only halfway decent one being Robbie the Robot from 'Forbidden Planet' with a different head. The characters are sci-fi cliches and are mostly obnoxious, the 'Alien Queen' and her scantily-clad minions are the nadir of low-budget exploitation twaddle.

If you're some sexually-frustrated individual then I'm sure this will seem like pennies from heaven. Personally I'm thinking of writing to the producers demanding compensation for the hour-and-a-half of my life I wasted watching this cobblers.
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3/10
go watch Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers or Wizards of the Demon Sword instead
movieman_kev11 April 2008
Sadly even the combined great talents of Jeffrey Combs, Michelle Bauer, Sybil Dannng, and yes, even Robby the Robot cant save this boring little film about a small group of people finding a 'lost world' in a cave while searching for diamonds. It kills me because I love the films Fred Olen Ray did in the '80's. For the most part they were just low-budget cheesy goodness that put a smile upon my face. (Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is SOOO good). But this film just didn't do anything for me & even though he'd make a last gasp with the enjoyable "Scream Queen Hot Tub Party" and extremely fun "Wizards of the Demon Sword", the decades after wouldn't be nearly as kind to him movie-writing wise.

My Grade: D

Retro-media DVD Extras: Commentary by Fred Olen Ray & Gary Graver; Nite Owl Theater (basically just an intro by Fred); 24 minute documentary; 10 minutes of behind the scenes footage; 3 minutes of alternate takes for TV; Stills gallery; & unused artwork

Eye Candy: Michelle Bauer & Tricia Burns both get topless while catfighting (There's also 3 topless girls in the Nite Owl Theater special feature)
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4/10
Not Fred's best work
lordzedd-325 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I am a big fan of Fred Olen Ray and I regret to say that Phantom Empire is not his best work. I'm not sure if we wasn't feeling well, didn't care for the project or if all the blame rest squarely on the shoulders of the writer but this movie is flawed big time. There is serious character and story issues. The alien queen is a real bitch and all the actors seemed phoned in their performances. The cave mutants are somewhat lame, considering it was 1986 I think they could have done better. I real don't want to be insulting, but this was more Don Dohler then Fred Olen Ray but there was enough interesting points to keep it from failing. So a mild and unimpressed 4 STARS.
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