WHAT WAITS BELOW (SECRETS OF THE PHANTOM CAVERNS)
(director: Don Sharp; screenwriters: Christy Marx/Robert Vincent O’Neil/story by Freddie Francis; cinematographer: Virgil L. Harper; editor: John R. Bowey; music: Denny Jaeger /Michel Rubini; cast: Robert Powell(Rupert ‘Wolf’ Wolfsen), Timothy Bottoms (Maj. Elbert Stevens), Lisa Blount (Leslie Peterson), Richard Johnson (Ben Gannon), A.C. Weary ( Lt. George Barwell), Richard Beauchamp (Santos), Anne Heywood (Frieda Shelley), Liam Sullivan (Lemurian elder), Jackson Bostwick (Hunter Prime); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Sandy Howard/Robert D. Bailey; Lightning; 1985-UK)
“The story generates little interest.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A dumb fantasy pic made on the cheap. Don Sharp(“Bear Island”/”Tears in the Rain”/”Hennessy”) directs as if this were a student film. The Freddie Francis story is bad news that the writers, Christy Mar and Robert Vincent O’Neil can’t come to grips with.
The story revolves around the exploration of caves in Central America that the U.S. government wants to use for radio communication with nuclear submarines. A suitable cave site is located by a military team and a team of archaeologists. They discover that in the depths of the caves a violent lost tribe of albino cave dwellers called Lemurians are living and don’t appreciate the invasion on their turf.
The story generates little interest. You wait for something to happen in the first 45 minutes and nothing that matters occurs. By the time we meet the freaky small rubbery Lemurians, it’s too late to matter because the film had already bombed.
Brit actor Robert Powell is an expert cave finder and the film’s hero, who works for the U.S. government on the secret cave project. Timothy Bottoms plays the American major in charge of the mission, who is a jerk. Richard Johnson is the world’s renown expert at finding deep caves. Richard Beauchamp is the local cave explorer who battles a python and then the albinos, and wins one of his two battles. Lisa Blount is the pretty maiden who is captured by the albinos when she strays from the search party.
REVIEWED ON 7/22/2015 GRADE: C