Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Gene Autry, Frankie Darro, Jack Carlyle, William Moore, Betsy King
Directors: B. Reeves Eason, Otto Brower
Genres: Action & Adventure, Westerns, Horror, Kids & Family, Music Video & Concerts, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Musicals & Performing Arts
Mascot's Phantom Empire, billed as the first "Musical Western" was singer Gene Autry's initial starring role. Autry and his young friends find themselves up against evil scientist and super-scientific underground world, Mu... more »
One of the first and best serials of all time
Peter S. Lunde | 04/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Face it. No serial has ever become more than an 11 year-old boy's greatest fantasy. From buried treasures, to evil cloaked villains, men on Mars, Emperor Ming on the planet Mongo, or an empire beneath the earth's surface, serials engaged pre-teen boys with endless Saturday afternoon escapist fare. When viewed today, production standards of most serials are ludicrous. And in general, the actors are just as ridiculous and rather painful to listen to. In short, serials are corny, unbelievable, and very very cheap.But when I saw Gene Autry's 15-episode Phantom Empire in 1949 every Saturday following my swimming session at the Plainfield New Jersey YMCA while eating an egg salad sandwich that crumbled down my shirt, I was transported into another world that has never left me. The sheer idea of a huge city deep under the earth's surface, the beautiful Queen Tika lording over Murania as her evil counselors wreak havoc among the earthlings, Frankie Darro and his Thunder Riders (pail bucket on their heads and all), and hero Gene Autry singing through it all with his wonderful bouncy Oklahoma cowboy singing style, was a feast for my unformed mind and heart. Each week for 15 weeks I breathlessly waited for another chapter in the unfolding epic. And when the final (so tragic to me then) episode ended it all, I floated home in a reverie that no amount of play could reproduce. The only other serials that came close were the Flash Gordon series with Buster Crabbe, FG Conquers the Universe being the best. Others included Don Winslow of the Navy, the Bat Man series (Dr. Daka and his hungy crocodile in the Tunnel of Love), Tom Mix, and Rocket Man. There were so many. I can't make anyone like these things, especially if you are already grown up and missed the serial excitement back in the pre 1950's days, But if you have a great sense of fun, and a wide imagination that can spare the corn from your skeptical overview, this is the one to start with. Glorious fun."
DVD set 2 stars lousey xfer - VHS set 4 stars good copy!!!
forrie | Nashua, NH United States | 04/05/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This review is strickly comparing this newly released 2 DVD set from ALPHA VIDEO to the 2 VHS set from VCI Home Video.First "The Phantom Empire" (1935) starring Gene Autry the singing cowboy was the first Western/Sci-fi Saturday matinee action serial. A very elaborate and fun story of an underground hidden empire of "Murania" lying 12000 feet below Gene Autry's ranch. This is some fun stuff. 12 cliffhanging chapters originally produced by Mascot Pictures. This preceded the later serials like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. The Phantom Empire runs for 216 minutes total is Black and White and is presented in Standard Format.Compared:Alpha Video 2 DVD set - This is a non-restored direct transfer DVD. The results are horrible, grainy, dark and some times blurry picture. The sound is erractic and sometimes difficult to understand the dialog. The worst thing is the chapters are incomplete. Each serial ending or beginning are chopped resulting in the absense of the cliffhanger thrill of the story. If you must see this classic on DVD, Rent only!!!!!VCI 2 VHS set - This is "The Phantom Empire" as it was ment to be seen. It is only VHS quality but so much better than the DVD set. The sound is much better and ALL 12 CHAPTERS are complete and the cliffhanging thrill is there to drive you on to next chapter. This is a fun experience and maybe a purchase but definitely a rental!!!! This 1935 serial is a one of a kind and if you are a Gene Autry fan this could be for you. Enjoy."
Daniel Matz | Reading, PA | 09/24/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"For the record, please note that I am reviewing a specific version of "Phantom Empire", not the serial itself. The version I am talking about is by Digiview. Digiview makes those cheap DVDs you find at Walmart. You know, the ones that cost a dollar, and are packaged in slim cases. Like many companies of this type, Digiview specializes in public domain titles. This release is no exception. What you will get is a poor quality print with muffled sound, and no extras. Please ignore the cover which says "Digitally Remastered"; it is not. But I knew that when I bought this DVD used. What I didn't know was that this is an edited print which takes the 12 chapters of the serial and combines them into a bizarre 90 minute "movie".
So be advised, if you spot this DVD somewhere.
Maybe someday Image Entertainment will release a complete version, as they have done with the Flash Gordon serials. There is another company which has it in two volumes (six chapters per DVD), but from the reviews posted here, it appears as if that print isn't too hot either. Oh well, someday."
Impecunious fan | Lakeville, MN USA | 08/23/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"There is also a two-tape VHS set of this serial put out by Passport Video, which is apparently a copy of the inferior DVD that has gotten such bad reviews here. Do not confuse this with the excellent VCI VHS set.