Thursday, September 15, 2011

Prisoners of the Lost Universe Review

And the Story Goes...
A scientist, Dr. Hartmann, creates a teleportation device that he, Dan, and Carrie accidentally fall in to at various points. The folks enter a parallel universe where technology is primitive, and everybody somehow speaks English (conveniently called Venyan). It is up to Dan and Carrie to find the good doctor so that they can all go home, or else they will become prisoners...of the lost universe!

Unfortunately, this is the sexiest that we get
My Thoughts
I can't help but to think that writer/director Terry Marcel made Prisoners of the Lost Universe specifically for me. I mean, he took two of my favorite subjects, prisoners and lost universes, and made one complete Inimitable (Movie Reviews)© film out of them. For that I will forever be indebted to him, and his ability to turn seemingly ridiculous story-lines into actually ridiculous movies.

For those familiar with cheesy 80s sci-fi, or avid fans of Jack Palance, you will undoubtably recognize Terry Marcel's work in such classics as Hawk The Slayer or The Last Seduction II. He truly is one of the unsung heroes of low budget science fiction films of the early to mid 1980s, and he will not be forgotten by yours truly (he isn't dead. I just won't forget him).

Baldin's back, and lookin' for watches
If you've seen Hawk the Slayer, then you will certainly recognize two of the standout characters from that movie as they (seem to) reprise their roles in Prisoners. Of course I'm speaking about Crow the elf, and Baldin the midget thief. Baldin the thief, played by Peter O'Farrell, is now Malachi...the thief. Crow, played by Ray Charleson, is now The Greenman, called so because he's green and a man. I really can't help but to wonder if Signor Marcel couldn't come up with different characters, or if he just didn't feel like it. Baldin wasn't bad, but he wasn't so impressively fun to watch that there was a need for O'Farrell reprise the role in Prisoners of the Lost Universe. If a recurring character was needed, then Palance's Voltan would be the way to go. That hammy bastard knew how to work a script!

John Saxon, who can do no wrong (even when he does), was saddled with the responsibility of providing the villain, Kleel, to this gem. Kleel is a straight up thug who is not afraid to smack a ho. Eazy E would be proud, and as an interesting side note - sources close to the deceased rapper claim that he actually based his gangsta persona on John Saxon's Kleel. I checked for verification of these claims, but I wasn't able to find any information. Thus, I will continue to present this assertion as fact until further notice.

Kleel knows how to work the ladies
Alas, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the performances of both Richard Hatch and Kay Lenz. Hatch is a Kendo master named Dan who has a habit of calling women "lady" repeatedly. Lenz is a sassy reporter named Carrie who doesn't take merda from anybody! Together they form a dynamic team that can overcome anything. Both actors give much better performances than what you would expect from such an obviously low budget movie. Actually, it's kind of weird that  Hatch, Lenz and Saxon are in this. They already had careers going, so I'm not sure why they wanted in on this movie. Maybe they all had nasty meth habits.

Saying the production values of this bad boy are shoddy would be an understatement. Those of you who are not entirely familiar with the tell-tale signs of a bad movie shouldn't worry, for I will share with you a couple of indications that I personally use. Initially you will want to take a look at the set that is used. If the alternate universe looks exactly like South Africa, with absolutely no alterations to the landscape (like alien looking plants or animals), then you are probably watching a low budget movie. Keep in mind that to make it look different small people can be given goggles that light up. This is the B movie's answer to no alien costumes.

South African landscape - Check
Small people wearing glowing goggles - Check
Whoa, what planet are we on here!?
Also, keep an eye out for the scientific laboratory. There should not be any scientific equipment within the lab. Instead, there should be seven or eight random books, and a series of t.v. screens and flashing lights scattered across the walls. After all, laboratories are for inducing epileptic fits, and not for conducting scientific experiments.

Random books - Check
Flashing lights -Check
Everything appears to be in order in this lab
Finally, on to sound design. A famous director, I believe it was F.W. Murnau, once said "the sound and music are 50% of the entertainment in a movie." It is evident with The Prisoners of the Lost Universe that Marcel subscribes to this philosophy. When you hear creative sound effects such as that of a bell ringing as a man is kicked in the crotch, you can't help but to ask yourself "do I detect a slight David Lynch influence?" Ok, probably not. But, the crazy sound effects do fit the overall tone of the movie, and that's all that matters.

There really are many things to make fun of Prisoners of the Lost Universe about. Keep in mind that there are movies that are fun because they're so bad, but those involved aren't aware of the ridiculousness (The Room). Then there are the films that are bad, but those involved know it. It's apparent that everybody involved in this production know what type of movie that they are making, and it leaves us with a fun sci-fi flick. There are no Oscar worthy performances (with the possible exception of Bill Flynn as 2nd Prisoner), but if you're looking for that in a movie with this title, then it sounds like you have a lot of soul searching to do.

If you like a little/lot of cheese in your movies, and are looking for a fun adventure film, then give this one a shot. It's an enjoyable movie, and you have nothing to lose unless you're one of those morons that runs around proclaiming "I want the two hours of my life back," when you don't like a movie.

One thing that would have made Prisoners... better is if Marcel spliced in some Bruce Lee footage into the film (Game of Death style), and we could've had a Lee/Saxon reunion. A cracka® can always dream.


You can watch Prisoners of the Lost Universe here.


  1. Nice review. Glad you included the video. Soon as I clear some time in my movie watching schedule I'll be sure to check it out. Always liked me some John Saxon.

  2. Yeah, John Saxon is great. I think in the future that I'll try to upload the movie if it's in the public domain. Thanks for commenting.

  3. This one may be mediocre, but you've just made me want to see it....
    Good review!

  4. You definitely need to have a tolerance for mediocrity. It's so stupid that it's fun though.


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