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The Phantom Empire

USA 1986
produced by
Fred Olen Ray for American Independent
directed by Fred Olen Ray
starring Ross Hagen, Jeffrey Combs, Sybil Danning, Dawn Wildsmith, Robert Quarry, Susan Stokey, Michelle Bauer, Russ Tamblyn, Michael Sonye, Victoria Alexander, Tony Lorea, Gary J.Levinson, John Gonzales, Jon Edmunds, Dan Malloy, Jerry Shull, Bob Ivy, Tricia Brown, Nicole Morgan, Julie Crow, Angela Post, Liat Mathias, Corey Kaplan, Maggie Martin, William Smith
writen by Terrill Lee Lankford, Fred Olen Ray, music by Robert Garrett, cinematography by Gary Graver, special effects by Wizard Works

Robby the Robot

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Rich Danae Chambers (Susan Stokey) hires explorer Cort (Ross Hagen) and his tough-as-nails chick sidekick Eddy (Dawn Wildsmith) to find a fables underground realm ... and before you know it, the three of them are off into the next cave with the young-and-old-scientist-team of young Andrews (Jeffrey Combs) and old Doc (Robert Quarry), where they find all kinds of people and creatures like mutant cannibals, Robby the Robot, cavegirls - including Bunny (Michelle Bauer), who before long gets very firendly with Andrews -, and an alien queen (Sybil Danning), who does her best to take our heroes captives. However, somehow our quintet of explorers flee through a valley full of dinosaurs and manage to steal the alien queen's extraterrestrial landrover, and get out of the underground realm alive ... and they blow up the landrover to create a landslide and cut off the underground kingdom from our world for good.


Of course, The Phantom Empire is trash, I would even go so far and call it trash as trash can, it pretty much does not leave out a single cliché you would expect from a movie of this kind, and it's entirely silly in premise, concept and story ... but this is actually only half the truth, because co-writer/director Fred Olen Ray actually knows what he is doing, and so does his cast, and neither of them takes the whole film seriously for a single minute. - making the whole thing into a genre parody. Truth to be told, Fred Olen Ray is not the funniest, not the most subtle comedy-writer/director, and neither are his actors comedians per se, but the film still has a good natured madness to go for it, a sort of anything-goes/make-it-up-as-we-go-along feeling - as if they were thinking "Why don't we let them meet Robby the Robot ?" - "Why don't we have some mutants in that scene ?" - "Why don'w we have some scantily clad cavegirls in that scene ?" - "Why doesn't the lead cavegirl (Michelle Bauer) lose her top ?" - "How about some dinosaurs (allegedly lifted from the 1978 film Planet of the Dinosaurs [James K.Shea]) ?" - "How about Sybil Danning in a campy and revealing outfit ?" - and so on and so forth ... and somehow all those over-the-top elements made it into the film.

So please, to enjoy this movie don't expect serious genre entertainment, nor great comedy, just some good natured over-the-top genre mockery - and this way you (like me) might actually come to like the film.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.


There's No Such Thing as Zombies
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry


directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke


now streaming at


Amazon UK





Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from