Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer Fest 5 (Day Two): Prisoners of the Lost Universe

 I thought that Prisoners of the Lost Universe would be a good matinee movie to get the ball rolling for day two. It seemed like the kind of movie that plays well in the background on a Saturday afternoon while people are coming in and out and getting settled in for the main attraction. And it is.  Unfortunately, nobody was milling about or at the very best half-paying attention to the movie. They were giving it all of their attention, which is more than a movie like Prisoners of the Lost Universe knows what to do with.

 Prisoners of the Lost Universe is, rampant profanity aside, the kind of movie that SHOULD be playing on television when nobody cares what's on. It has the same kind of dumb gimmick that a show like Land of the Lost does and I imagine that if it were episodic rather than a 90 minute movie, you might even forgive the fact that it takes 80 of those 90 minutes for the plot to "get going." Every time the camera cuts away from one of the two main characters (who are separated for reasons I'll get too), I couldn't help but think "okay, now something is finally going to happen." SPOILER ALERT: It didn't.

 The main attraction of the film was Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica - both of 'em), who stars at the heroic TV Cable repairman Dan (he might be an electrician, but all that has to do with the movie is he has access to cables - seriously). Dan wrecks his truck not because of his ball-huggingly tight jeans - a trend of tight pants that would unfortunately become a running theme at Summer Fest - but because reporter Carrie Madison (Kay Lenz) runs him off the road on her way to interview a crazy scientist. They argue in such a way that they can only fall in love later, but apparently nobody told the actors that, so the fight is actually pretty mean spirited and insulting.

 But who cares about Dan? Carrie is going to talk to a mad scientist (Kenneth Hendel), the inventor of a machine that transports matter to another dimension, one that he knows nothing about. So of course, he gets knocked into the teleporter, and in her infinite wisdom, Carrie follows him, and so does Dan (who just happened to wander up to the same house and break in because that's what the hero would do).

 This "lost universe" has some time dilation, and they all end up arriving at different points than the others, so there's a LOT of wandering around aimlessly before Dan and Carrie meet up and eventually have sex. I mean, it was inevitable, right? First she meets a caveman and saves him which will come in handy several times throughout the movie (call it deus ex neanderthal), but it's the scrogging as a result of nonexistent sexual tension we'd been waiting for. After they do the deed (off camera), Kleel (John Saxon) shows up. No one can kill Kleel, as he tells us repeatedly, and he shoots Dan and takes Carrie to be the new bride in his warrior tribe. Yes, shoots, as in with a musket.

 Now we have some dramatic momentum to carry us through the film, but it translates into Dan wandering around, getting together a "team" consisting of a horse thief, a green guy, the aforementioned caveman, and one of Kleel's ex-brides, which takes an hour to do, during which NOTHING interesting happens. It was excruciatingly slow paced and I feared Fest-ers were going to revolt. They were getting antsy and we hadn't even finished our first movie yet.

 I'd like to say that the (literally) explosive climax of the film made up for it, but Prisoners of the Lost Universe doesn't do much well. It can't even pretend to take place in California at the beginning, because most American cars don't have steering wheels on the right side of the car (it was filmed in South Africa), and it's not quite bad enough to be enjoyable. Fortunately, the films that followed - a double feature - more than made up for this stuttered opening to Day Two.

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