Carrie Madison (Kay Lenz) hosts her own television show called Wild and Wacky, which looks at the more unusual areas of science. Today she is set to interview a scientist, Dr Hartmann (Kenneth Hendel), who has developed a new teleportation device, or so he claims, but first she has to drive to his lab, and the problem with that is there have been earth tremors occurring, so when she gets in her car she has to negotiate the unstable nature of the environment, almost sending her crashing into handyman Dan (Richard Hatch) in his truck...
Which is only the beginning of the greatest adventure in this or any other dimension, or that was the idea anyway, but when you learn this was produced by the same team behind Hawk the Slayer, then perhaps you shouldn't raise your hopes too highly. Raiders of the Lost - er, I mean Prisoners of the Lost Universe has never enjoyed the same level of profile as that so bad it's good cult favourite, but then this wasn't namechecked in sitcom Spaced, yet there was very much of the same style adopted here, as in a cheap and cheerful fantasy unlikely to prove too taxing.
Although American audiences would have seen this on television, overseas viewers would have had the chance to pay to watch it on the big screen, those lucky souls, or more possibly rented it on video when there wasn't much else left on the shelves as an alternative. Carrie and Dan get into that parallel universe when the scientist's matter transmitter is accidentally activated by the earthquake, and in amusingly awkward fashion the three of them end up in the path of the beam, leaving them stranded in some other world.
Which was actually South Africa, the British production evidently having few qualms about working there during apartheid, although one rocky, sandy landscape looks pretty much like all the others. Carrie does a good deed when she rescues a huge caveman from a swamp, making a friend for life, then Dan catches up with her only to get them both into trouble with a roaming tribe with LCD lights for eyes. They escape, and begin to assemble a band of locals who will help them get back home, but being the usual way these things go, they have to vanquish the warlord Kleel (John Saxon) beforehand.
But the plot is not quite as entertaining as what the producer-writer-director team of Harry Robertson (who also did the music) and Terry Marcel conjured up as ornamentation to this bog standard, sub-Edgar Rice Burroughs lost world affair. How about Battlestar Galactica's Hatch getting into fights every five minutes, including with a mostly naked gold man with metal bollocks who is beaten by being pushed into a steaming rock whereupon he disappears in a puff of smoke? Or if ridiculous violence isn't your thing, there's a musical watch and a goose which talks like a parrot. Lenz suffers the worst of this as her character gets captured by Kleel early on and spends most of the rest of the movie as one of the more literal prisoners, with very little to do other than look anguished. With a band of heroes more suited to a game of Dungeons and Dragons (including a multilingual man painted green, whatever he's meant to be), this was pretty desperate stuff (those sound effects!) but easy laughs were generously supplied.