|WHAT WAITS BELOW
|Copyright 1983 Adams Apple Film Co.
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 'a long time ago'
- Wolfson - Elite mercenary who is exceptionally good at finding caves. Wears a leather jacket in the middle of a rain forest.
- Leslie - She has that sexy "I am a nasty girl" look; pretty much acts it too once you get some beer in her.
- Major Stevens - Jerk commander of the operation who has a lethal amount of limestone dropped on his head.
- George - Lieutenant and second in command to Stevens, putz.
- Bill Gannon - World's foremost expert on caves. Takes a spike through the head.
- Frieda Shelley - She is attractive, just like Julia Childs is. Another scientist with Gannon. Also spiked.
- Santos - Serious fodder boy.
- The Lemurians - Tribe of humans who have been living underground for thousands of years. Not only do they roll in flour, the little buggers can also scream and cause caves to collapse.
|The beginning of this film is a total mystery to me. Well, not entirely, but you will understand why here in a minute. We lead off with a narrator telling us about the life cycle of a giant stalagmite, comparing its growth to significant events in human history. The stalagmite piece I understand. What makes no sense is the following section where we are introduced to the male lead.
Wolfson is up in a tree taking photos of soldiers training in Nicaragua. He almost kills George when the guy walks up looking for him. It is the middle of a rainforest; how did he know where Wolfson was? Then they settle down to chat. At this point, Wolfson looks up and sees (we are led to believe by the camera changes) a sentry climbing up the hill toward them. He ignores the approaching mercenary, instead paying attention to the beer George is offering! When that is shot out of their hands the action really starts. Armed with pistols and a pack of exploding cigarettes, these two take on most of the Nicaraguan Army. The running battle is terribly confusing, along with feeling like nothing more than padding. After about twenty minutes we really start the movie.
The U.S. Army needs a deep cave so they can transmit radio messages to nuclear submarines. It is "super low" frequency so the subs can still pick up the signal through miles of rock. (We will just ignore the fact that the Army is doing this, because how many submarines do they operate?) After enlisting the aid of civilian cave expert Ben Gannon they find the perfect place. Equipment is brought in and the equipment is soon in place in one section of an extensive cave system.
A civilian research group was disturbed by the Army's activity. It causes them to have no great love for the military, though Wolfson manages to win them over. Now, how do you make it up to someone for ruining their expedition and possibly their ability to secure grant money for future research? You act like a down-to-earth guy and dive into the river to retrieve a skillet that was lost into the water. Simple, right? Maybe that was the key to the entire Cold War. Mother Russia had lost her skillet and all that Uncle Sam needed to do was dive in and fish it out. Somebody tell me why I am not in politics. Leslie ends up warming to Wolfson and pretty much throws herself at him one night; he graciously accepts her offer.
Pretty soon the beacon disappears, along with the two men on duty. All of the important personnel, including a local cave expert named Santos, descend into the cave. Santos needed to watch more Star Trek. I would have looked around and said, "We need a few more unimportant people with us. You, you, and you. Put on red shirts and get your helmets." See, just by doing that, I would have increased my chance of survival. There are now four people certain to die.
The party quickly realizes that they are not alone in the subterranean world. Living in the dark spaces is a tribe of violent albinos which broke off from human evolution ages ago. Leslie is captured when she strays a short distance from the group. At first her disappearance is a mystery, but the others soon encounter the Lemurians. The dwellers in the dark use weapons that make me cringe, because they are not going to kill you quickly. Their primary ranged weapon is a stick that helps them throw a small bone or crystal dart with great force (kind of like a woomera). Amazingly, despite their small size, they appear to be lethal to humans. The dart-chuckers look more like hunting weapons, designed to bring down bats or other creatures found in the caves (albino rabbits, squirrels, whatever you can think of). While I would not want to get hit by a dart, especially not in the throat, I have doubts about their ability to penetrate the skull.
To save Leslie from the Lemurians, Wolfson engages in a knife fight with their most powerful warrior. Of course, he wins, but refuses to finish off his opponent. That small act of decency will later save his life (and Leslie's, you have to save the booty) when more savagery breaks out. Major Stevens is not so lucky. The whole reason the Lemurians stole the submarine beacon system is that it causes them pain while transmitting. When the Major locates it again, he immediately activates the beacon. In retaliation, the Lemurians do something that causes the cave above Stevens to collapse. End of beacon, end of Stevens.
Santos needs to be discussed. While exploring, he is suddenly attacked by a snake-like creature that lives inside a smooth tube in the rock wall. Though he is carrying a pistol, but what does wonder boy do? Begins beating ineffectively at the snake with his weapon. I was aghast when the others responded to Santos' screams and stopped him from becoming a meal for the cave python. No, you are going to save him so that he can go breed and screw up the gene pool! Fortunately, Darwin refuses to be denied his prey, Santos runs afoul of the Lemurians while returning to the surface (alone, wounded man sent back to seek medical treatment without anyone to assist him).
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Stalagmites are not of the Christian faith.
- Two Americans armed with pistols and tobacco can defeat most South American armies.
- Radio waves from a portable console can penetrate miles of rock and water.
- Military operations are characterized by many soldiers wandering around in the background.
- The first thing a drunk blonde will notice is your tongue size.
- Deep caves are abundantly lit by fly larva.
- A pistol is least effective when used as a club.
- Caves are filled with fog.
- 2 mins - So what? It is a stalagmite. Not a good start.
- 5 mins - The angle that "bullet" punctured the can would indicate is plowed through Wolfson first.
- 15 mins - Sure hope this woman is not the sexy female lead.
- 16 mins - Okay, there is a young woman - whew.
- 49 mins - What the heck? How did everyone else fail to notice the dead body?
- 51 mins - Splitting up from the group huh? Hmmm, wonder what could possibly...
- 82 mins - What sort of goofy stuff is this?
- Ending Credits - "Secrets of the Phantom Caverns" was the real name. Nobody could come up with something better than that or "What Waits Below?"
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Wolfson: "The name's Wolf." |
Leslie: "Wolf, as in big bad?"
Wolfson: "No, as in Wolfson."
||Stevens: "That can not be permitted. The entire cave is off limits to non-essential personnel until all tests are completed."
||George: "Electronic circuitry and stone age tools... ...what does this have to do with Leslie and the transmitter?"
||The Lemurians screaming.
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
| ||Leave a comment||EXTRAS||Buy the movie|| |
|What Waits Below
Reply #1. Posted on March 12, 1999, 10:02:54 AM by firstname.lastname@example.org
Uh, I hate to a)admit that I've actually watched this entire movie and b)quibble with the reviewer, but the US does use ELF transmitters (Extremely Low Frequency) to communicate with subs and these radio waves can penetrate water and rock (that's whay they use it). It *is* amazingly slow, tho', because the radio waves are measured in meters! So, the premise of transmitting through rock is valid.
I think that's about the only valid thing, however.
|What Waits Below
Reply #2. Posted on March 15, 1999, 07:50:50 PM by email@example.com
Rick, you're correct to my full knowledge on the waves being able to contact nuclear subs deep under the ocean. This signal is only an alert, letting the sub know it must ascend to receive the true message. As for penetrating rock, I know of some theories, but no hard data - if you can give me a reference please let me know. In deference to your objection I am changing the wording in my review to be more precise. The two ELF stations in the US employ antennas which are miles long and ENORMOUS amounts of energy to send that little beep deep into the oceans, the idea of a portable console doing the same is certainly funny. Agreed?
|What Waits Below
Reply #3. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Gisela
It seems there's a DVD of this film. I saw it on Ebay but never heard about it on amazon or any other site. Any answer?????????
|What Waits Below
Reply #4. Posted on April 23, 2000, 06:34:41 PM by firstname.lastname@example.org
For ••Years•• I've been trying to find out the
name of this movie, and before 2 days ago presumed
it only existed in my head! I found it by crawling
through the various genres in the Time Out movie
guide (as well as looking for movies including the
words 'mountain' or 'underground'), and I found it
under Phantom Caverns. According to Time Out
guide, What Waits Below is supposedly takes place
in a Spanish mountainside where they are
installing a radio transmitter, when
archaeologists (!!) 'discover a malign presence
deep within the caverns'. Oh well.
Do you know where i can get hold of this movie in
video format? (no way is it coming out in
|What Waits Below
Reply #5. Posted on May 07, 2000, 01:42:44 PM by email@example.com
Oh, thank you. Your review left me LOL numerous times! For some reason, I continue to list this movie on my page of credits. I must be a masochist. But y'know, I wrote the script with such great hopes. How was I to know it would be one of the most doomed productions of all time? The stories I could tell. Like the morning my burly Australian husband threated to punch the teeth of the associate producer down his throat. And how they nearly killed their entire cast and crew with carbon monoxide poisoning by shooting deep inside caves using generators without piping out the exhaust.
When they had the screening of the finished movie, I slunk out as soon as it was over, hoping nobody would remember I had a part in creating it.
Oh, about the title: "Raiders of the Lost Ark" had just come out and was the biggest hit of the century, hence Sandy Howard wanted a look-alike name. That's where he came up with The Secret of the Phantom Caverns. I still have t-shirts with that name on it. I refuse to be blamed for either title. Or the finished script, for that matter, which was being rewritten on the set daily without my input.
At least it can be enshrined in the hallowed ranks of bad movies. That's better than being forgotten. I think.
|What Waits Below
Reply #6. Posted on May 20, 2000, 02:46:53 AM by
cbenzinski, your Time Out guide wasn't paying attention. The action (such as it is,) is set in Belize, which, last time I checked, is in our own hemisphere. And fenris, would you have been equally derisive of a movie that claimed in 1984 there existed the technology to make a plane the size of the B-2 invisible to radar? The government doesn't tell us everything, and since the "hard data" is still classified, no one else will give you a reference, either (unless you pay them lots of money.) I mean, what's so funny about a portable console? It's just a device to motivate the plot, and as such it's at least as plausible as using the Ark of the Covenant as a secret weapon to wipe out the Gestapo. If you're looking for factual data, stick to the Discovery Channel. There are plenty of things to criticize about WWB, but quibbles of this sort don't make for satisfying criticism.
|What Waits Below
Reply #7. Posted on August 06, 2000, 01:42:40 PM by Gisela
I just want to know why did robert powell accepted to play in this film! does anybody knows the answer? he's a good actor, he can do better and he made many good films, it was a little funny to me finding this movie on this "bad movies" page. Anyway, relax, this is not the worst film on history just take a look to mission impossible 2 it's quite worst.
|What Waits Below
Reply #8. Posted on August 15, 2000, 03:37:32 PM by Chris
Name a good film Robert Powell has been in recently
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