Prisoner of Love
Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983): 4 out of 10: “Science” transports a mad scientist, a handyman, and a spunky TV reporter to the titular Lost Universe, which turns out to be South African renaissance festival run by John Saxon.
The Good: On the plus side, this is no Frankenstein Island. There is some decent acting with actually appealing actors. Richard Hatch was always underutilized and is appealing here. John Saxon is in full John Saxon mode and plays his evil character halfway between Donald Pleasence and Kurtwood Smith. The real find is Kay Lenz. Well, find is a bit of a stretch. She played a hippy chick intertwined with William Holden in the Clint Eastwood lensed Breezy. Having recently watched that film for the first time, it is well worth the look and she is fantastic in it. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance (Best New Actress nominee). In Prisoners of the Lost Universe, Kay Lenz has great chemistry with co-star Richard Hatch and a sense of spunky fun.
The Bad: Prisoners of the Lost Universe also has some decent ideas wrapped up with some on-the-spot dialogue. So why am I watching this movie with a RiffTrax soundtrack and comparing it to Frankenstein Island? Well. Did I mention it was filmed in South Africa in the early eighties and they used their entire budget for top name stars like Richard Hatch? Yes, this one had potential, but everything else is a pure train wreck. You can’t make Lord of the Rings on a 100k budget. It is a combination of LARPers gone wrong and some of the worst, yet strangely creative costumes and makeup ever seen. You have giants, midgets, green people and sets that would make 60s Star Trek blush.
The Ugly: Prisoners of the Lost Universe is one of those films that appear in those fifty films for five-dollar collections you see at Walmart. Like Night of the Living Dead or Carnival of Souls, Prisoners of the Lost Universe seems out of copyright at least here in the United States. This is common ground for RiffTrax. if you ever wondered why there is a RiffTrax version of the Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn movie Charade, you can thank a defective copyright notice.
So far, so good. One problem with films that anyone can copy and sell is that they rarely get a Criterion Edition, if you know what I mean. In other words, the film quality can often be abysmal. Again, this is a common problem I have with both MST3k and RiffTrax (See Mitchell as a modern example of really poor film quality taking the experience down a notch.)
There are plenty of scenes in Prisoners of the Lost Universe that were not all that well lit to begin with that are impossible to make out in this version of the film. Overall, the poor film quality degrades the viewing experience. I have certainly revisited films when they got a proper HD re-release and found them much more enjoyable. (Day of the Animals being an excellent example as the original print of the film actually induced headaches)
So with a better quality print, I could see Prisoners of the Lost Universe getting a six out of ten instead of a four out of ten.
In Conclusion: Prisoners of the Lost Universe is all in good fun and the stars mentioned above make most of this more palatable than it should be. For those times that even the charms of Richard Hatch or John Saxon cannot win one over, I had the soothing jokes of RiffTrax to see me through. Again, good fun, but don’t be surprised if you are confused after fifteen minutes and asleep after forty-five.
RiffTrax Version 8 out of 10: Well, for one thing, you have a better Space Mutiny/ Battlestar Galactica joke than either The MST3K version of Space Mutiny managed or the RiffTrax Live version of Space Mutiny managed.
The boys are actually in top form on this one and clearly are having fun. They quote Rush songs for god’s sake. And traditional subjects such as Golden Corral and my marriage vows make an appearance. In fact, My Marriage vows seems to make multiple appearances. Just that kind of movie, I guess. (Though somehow our old friend Nick Nolte is not in the film despite there being a tribe of homeless people living in a cave.)
Obviously, despite the poor film transfer, this is the only way to watch Prisoners of the Lost Universe. I wouldn’t necessarily use Prisoners of the Lost Universe to introduce someone to the RiffTrax universe but it is a solid choice for fans.
Well, at least we have some special effects such as film dissolve.
And whatever this is.
We also have some light submission.
And some light bondage.
This reminds me of pretty much every D and D adventure I had as a teen.
Don’t get too excited. Our cobra friend is out of the movie before it really begins.