The Lost Empire (1984)

If you’re wondering if this movie is as bad as that poster makes it seem…yes. Yes, it is.

In the 1980s, an evil cult run by an immortal Satanist seeks a magic jewel that contains immense power from an undreamed of age. They also like to hold private parties for teams of buxom women to come out to their island paradise/1970s sci-fi book cover hideout and fight to the death. I don’t think these things are related, but hey, whatever floats your boat. When gorgeous supercop Angel Wolfe’s brother is killed by these Satanists after they royally botch a robbery of the magic jewel, she teams up with Native American racist depiction and total babe Whitestar as well as blond trashy gum-chewing prisoner Heather McClure to infiltrate their sexy death games and beat up the cult. And they do it while wearing bikinis. Yeah, it’s that kind of movie.

Look, you know you’re in a sleazy movie from the start because it pulls off a James Bond parody, only instead of Bond walking out to shoot the camera, it instead focuses on a woman’s very large bust as she purchases a necklace from an overly horny shopkeeper. She leaves, crappy ninjas show up, and they fight using shuriken yo-yos to deflect bullets. If you think this is a terrible idea, just stop now, because what follows includes a women-in-prison mud fight with a dominatrix, blatant call outs to Conan the Barbarian, and an absurdly phallic death laser obliterating a bad guy’s crotch and then lighting him on fire. There’s also a guy in a gorilla costume who will be kicked in the nuts by the end of the film. And boobs. Yep, boobs. Cleavage is pretty much the major selling point of the film, and you’re going to be seeing a lot of it.

Part of me thinks somehow this movie was meant to be empowering, since the women are all supposed to be fully capable investigators, crack more jokes than most ’80s action icons, and are tough as nails with the fists to prove it. It even highlights the toughness of our fearless supercop by showing her take down terrorists holding kids hostage in a school by driving her motorcycle in the front door and blowing them away with a magnum. Yet at the same time, most of the hero work is done while the female leads are either in skimpy outfits, going topless, or totally naked, which makes me completely backtrack on the whole feminism angle. Hey, the producer made the movie for a tax break, what can I say?

The weirdest thing about all of this is that the cult leader was played by Angus Scrimm. If you don’t know him, he was the creepy tall man in the Phantasm series. If you don’t know the Phantasm series, you need to reevaluate your life choices. Anyway, his character here is way old, so his skin is a mask; uncovered, he looks kinda like the mirror demon from Conan the Destroyer but with hilariously big eyes. Seeing Scrimm in anything is a high point, so be respectful, even if he is totally ridiculous in this movie.

Look, if you’re watching The Lost Empire, I think you should instead take some time and go watch pornography, because you’re probably gonna get more of whatever you’re watching The Lost Empire for. Plus the plot will be better. This is like bad softcore with a healthy dab of racist Asian and Native American tropes. Oh, and rape attempts too, since we never seem to get enough of that.

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