CANNON MONTH 2: What Waits Below (1984)

EDITOR’S NOTE: What Waits Below was obviously not produced by Cannon, but they did release it in Germany as Cannon Screen Entertainment.

Also known as Secrets of the Phantom Caverns, this Sandy Howard-produced movie was made in a former limestone quarry and in natural caves, including Cathedral Caverns in Alabama and Cumberland Caverns and Fall Creek Falls in Tennessee.

According to the August 23, 1983 edition of the Miami Herald, carbon monoxide produced by the generators used to power the lights and filmmaking equipment built up in the Cathedral Caverns location and sent at least 17 people, including director Don Sharp (Psychomania) to the hospital.

Or maybe it was more, as star Lisa Blount (Prince of Darkness) remembered in an interview with Imagi Movies, “All the extras, as the Lemurians, were out in front of me, and I watched all these people just start silently falling over, fainting, as this wave of carbon monoxide came at them. All hell broke loose. We had little golf carts for transportation, and it was an immediate emergency situation of getting out, but these carts didn’t go that fast. We had very sick people, and it was a matter of determining who got in the first car out — youngest ones first. It was just total chaos. There were sixty people who went to the hospital.”

That may have been more exciting than this movie, in which a military communication device used to alert submarines ends up losing its signal in a cave in Central America. The military sends Major Elbert Stevens (Timothy Bottoms) and scientist Leslie Peterson (Blount) to learn what happened. That’s when things go all Shaver mystery and Lemurians — albino cave people show up. But are they heroes or villains? Are we the heroes or villains? And hey — Richard Johnson (Zombi 2) shows up!

Based on a story by Freddie Francis, the script was written by Robert Vincent O’Neil (the same guy who made the Angel movies!) and Christy Marx (the same woman who created JEM and the Holograms!). The tagline for this movie was “Underground, no one can hear you die.” Alien this is not.

This looks like a TV movie in the best of ways and I kind of love it for how completely stupid it is. I mean, the military supercomputer is a Commodore 64 with the logo taped over. If that makes you want to watch this, you are my kind of person.

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