The TSL’s Grindhouse: Prison Planet (dir by Armand Gazarian)

(aka Prison Planet)

A few nights ago, I saw the no-budget 1992 sci-fi epic, Prison Planet, on television.

My immediate response after watching Prison Planet was to assume that I had just been dreaming because it was difficult for me to accept that anyone had actually made a movie this inept.  However, I then checked with the imdb and I discovered that Prison Planet not only exists but there were actually two sequels.  I was also surprised to discover that Prison Planet was an American production and not a poorly dubbed Bruno Mattei film.  Unfortunately, my attempts to google more information on the production of Prison Planet were hindered by the fact that every result I got was about Alex Jones.

Anyway, Prison Planet takes place in the far future.  2200, to be exact.  Earth is ruled by an evil dictator but that dictator’s power is being threatened by a rebel leader named Himshaw (Jack Wilcox).  When Himshaw is captured, he is promptly exiled to the planet where Earth sends all of its prisoners.  (Hence, the title.)  With Himsaw gone and perhaps dead, it now falls on Himshaw’s brother, Blaine (James Phillips) to leads the rebels.  However, instead of doing that, Blaine decides to go to the prison planet so he can discover whether or not his brother is still alive.  Blaine breaks into a government building and allows himself to be captured.

So now, Blaine has been exiled to the prison planet.  (The name of the prison planet, by the way, is Annakin.)  Blaine’s plan is to find Himshaw so that he can overthrow the dictator but, since there’s really no obvious way to get back to Earth after being dropped off on a prison planet, you have to kind of wonder whether Blaine really thought this through.  I’m assuming that he probably thought, “I’ll worry about that when I have to,” but it’s not like Earth is just the next town over or something.  It’s an entirely different planet.  You can’t just walk there.

On the prison planet, the prisoners are pretty much allowed to do whatever they want.  It’s a world ruled by an evil warlord, though there are small bands of nomads and rebels in the desert.  This is what the big scary warlord looks like:

Blaine decides that he’s going to 1) overthrow the warlord and 2) rescue the virgin that the warlord is planning on sacrificing.  (Or at least, I think that’s what the warlord was plotting to do with her.  It was kind of hard to keep up with what was going on, largely because Prison Planet seemed to be making stuff up as it went along.)

What’s odd is that, even though the film is taking place in 2200, everyone on the prison planet is driving around in cars from the 20th Century.  It’s kinda like Mad Max: Fury Road, except that it’s not very good.  But then again, who needs to worry about narrative logic when you’ve got stuff like this to deal with:

That’s the warlord, again.  You can tell why they made this dude the ruler of the planet.  He’s got a really big sword and a really thin mustache.  Plus, he doesn’t own a shirt.  He’s got the whole Conan thing going on.

And then there’s this other guy who keeps popping up, who wears a suit, a tie, and a hat.  He spends the whole movie scurrying between the warlord and Blaine and I have to admit that I’m still not sure what exactly his role was in the movie.  He spoke in a falsetto voice and everyone was constantly threatening to kill him.

Also, one of the warlord’s henchmen wears what appears to be wearing a Spanish conquistador’s helmet.  No one ever mentions that this is odd…

Anyway, I watched the whole film and I’m not really sure what I saw.  Blaine had to overthrow the warlord and find his possibly dead brother.  It was never really clear how these two things were connected.  It was a bad movie but strange enough to occasionally be watchable.

As for the two sequels, the imdb lists them both as being comedies.  I haven’t watched either one of them but that sounds about right.  The first Prison Planet is definitely not meant to be comedy but I still had a few good laughs while watching it.

4 responses to “The TSL’s Grindhouse: Prison Planet (dir by Armand Gazarian)

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