The Lost Empire (1983)

Rating: *
Review Date: 9/3/17
Written, Produced, And Directed By: Jim Wynorski
Music: Alan Howarth
Cast: Melanie Vincz, Raven De La Croix, Angela Aames, Paul Coufos, Angus Scrimm

Quite possibly Jim Wynorski's most expensive and competent effort, but that's not high praise. This low budget drek is only watchable due to its fun and moderately talented cast, who are totally in on the joke of how bad the movie is. The power-mad Dr. Sin Do (Angus Scrimm) is searching for the Eyes Of Avatar, which are magical jewels that the ancient Lemurians have hidden away for centuries. A bad-ass police officer named Angel Wolfe (Melanie Vincz) inadvertently comes into contact with one of the Eyes, and recruits two female warriors (Raven De La Croix and Angela Aames) to infiltrate Sin Do's island fortress. Magic rituals, brainwashed slave girls, killer lasers, and a fighting gorilla punctuate the ridiculous climax, as Wolfe and a dozen other bikini-clad warrior maidens take on Sin Do's forces in hand-to-hand combat.

Yes, it's embarrassingly awful, but it also has a certain charm. Despite the exploitive nature of the material, it's the women who dominate everything and have no trouble dealing with the incompetent male villains. The lighting is decent and the film looks reasonably good, apart from a handful of laughably horrible matte paintings. The visual effects are delightfully tacky and the sets look pathetically cheap. Melanie Vincz gives a far better performance than the film deserves, and her unabashed self-awareness helps sell the absurd narrative. In one of the film's most outrageous moments, a tarantula crawls up the length of her half naked body while she's lying in bed and laughably perches on top of her breast. She quickly brushes it away and smashes it with a book, revealing that it was a sophisticated robot. She then turns to the camera and breaks the fourth wall with a hilariously deadpan delivery of "I hate robot spiders." What was the point of this scene? Where did the robot spider come from and what was it doing crawling on Wolfe's body? This is never explained and it's never mentioned again. Similarly, Sin Do hypnotizes Whitestar (Raven De La Croix) at one point, which cuts to a scene of her topless with a boa constrictor writhing around her neck. Again, what does this have to do with anything? I'm guessing that the opportunity to see Raven's enormous naked breasts was enough to justify any narrative device the filmmakers could come up with. Paul Coufos does an adequate job as the dopey hero, and Angus Scrimm hams it up as the diabolical Sin Do to good effect.

The dialog is painfully bad and the audio mix is so poor that you can't make out most of it. Alan Howarth's soundtrack is a surprising bright spot in the film, but it's so loud that it overpowers the rest of the sound in the film. Howarth's music sounds very similar to the score from "Escape From New York" (1981) and evokes an appropriately tense and futuristic atmosphere. So, if you're a fan of Jim Wynorski or horribly tacky B-movies in general, "The Lost Empire" is a guilty pleasure worth checking out. But if you have any taste or sense of decency, it's probably best to stay away.