Secrets of the Phantom Caverns (1983)

35mm film, colour, 1.85:1
mono, English

A British fantasy film directed by Don Sharp. The film was originally announced to start in April 1983 1Daily Variety vol.199 no.25 (8 April 1983) p.10, to be shot in 70mm 2Daily Variety vol.191 no.6 (13 March 1983) p.15 but was delayed until 8 August 1983 3Daily Variety vol.200 no.44 (5 August 1983) p.12.

Plot Summary

The US base built in a cave system in Central America disturbs a lost race who have been living since the disaster that destroyed their homeland of .


Directed by: Don Sharp
© 1983 Adams Apple Film Company, Wishred Productions Ltd
Adams Apple Film Company presents a Sandy Howard production
Executive Producers: Mel Pearl, Don Levin
Produced by: Sandy Howard and Robert D. Bailey
Screenplay by: Christy Marx and Robert Vincent O'Neil [real name: Robert Vincent O'Neill]
Story by: Ken Barnett [real name: Freddie Francis]
Director of Photography: Virgil Harper
Editor: John R. Bowey
Music Composed, Performed and Produced by: Michel Rubini & Denny Jaeger
Production Sound Mixers: Craig Feldberg, David Lee
Costume Designer: Betty Pecha Madden
Key Makeup Artist: Valli O'Reilly
Key Hair Dresser: Jacki Munns
Special Makeup: William Munns
Creature Special Effects Direction and Construction: Jeff Shank, Steve Shank
Matte Paintings: David Stipes Productions
Art Director: Stephen Marsh

Robert Powell (Rupert “Wolf” Wolfsen)
Lisa Blount (Leslie Peterson)
Richard Johnson (Ben Gannon)
Anne Heywood (Frieda Shelley)
A.C. Weary (Lt. George Barwell)
Timothy Bottoms as Major Elbert Stevens
Jackson Bostwick (hunter prime)
Richard Beauchamp (Santos Arias)
William Gribble (Sgt. Neumann)
Carl Spurlock (Major Castillo)
Jason Laskay (hunter second)
Liam Sullivan (Lemurian elder)
Carlos Cervantes [real name: Gary Carlos Cervantes] (Hector Lopez)
Tim Powell (Jim White)
Tom Stubblefield (Eastern European military advisor)
Heather Hollinghead, George Jessup, James Madevell, Steve Lacy, Collette Bell, Andrew Bekken, Rina Stembridge, Doug Bishop, Rich Davis, Michael Dendy, David Jacko, Jim Remick, Mark Coats, Jamie Bodie, Chuck McKnight, Holly Perdieu, Dale Denyer, Tracy McNabb, Martha Jo King, Edie Winchester, Emerson Cole, James Brecker, Stephanie Winchester, Billy Brasfield, Debbie Shuttleworth, John Sandford, Deborah Carter, Shirkley Perdieu, Kenny Moore, Bobby Shuttleworth, Tracy Clark, Theresa Quinn, Libby Reed, Billy Lee, Charles Cruse, Kyle Weir, Mike Delcour, Warren Rutledge, Balinda Talley, Brent Talley, Adrianne Talley, Joann Caroll, Marie Shuttleworth, Tracey Singleterry, Heather Rayfield, Terri Gipson, Traci Flanders, Susan Flanders, Julee Byrom, Brodie Lower, Anna Mitchell, Kathy Brown, Mark Cantrell, B.J. Cooley, Dick Curtis, Walter Martin, John White, Jamie Langford, James Mitchell, Billy Joe Cooley, Jeremy Lehew, Kristina Lehew, Bob Montgomery, Dwayne Allison, David Avery, Jennie Lower (Lemurians)
Mark (BA) Northern, “A Team”, David Staleup, Alan (FACE) McCormick, “A Team”, Charles E. McKnight, Billy Campbell, “A Team”, Tylee Marcum, Dan (SLAB) Quails, “A Team”, Ricky S. Boat, Jay Castro, “A Team”, Jamee W. Swain, Joseph E. (DUMB) Choate, “A Team”, Howard E. Farris, Barry Rogers, Dallas L. Sewage Jr, Denny Abbot, Campbell Boyd, Karl Gretsinger, Jimmy Kirkland, Danny R. (Redhead) Martin, Michael Ramsey, Stuart J. Lamb, Cecil E. Moody, Rosemary G. Swain, Teddy B. Grandey, Anthony B. Campbell, John B. McGuire, R.K. Lush Jr, Robert H. Brady, Roger D. Taylor, Janine Porter, Ronald C. Barnes, Bob Hennessee, Joe Nunley, Rick Davis, Mark Coates (mercenaries)
David Avery, Lee Drew, Ned Vaughan, Ron Bernaski, Scott Biss, Mark THornhill, Chris Pease, Jerome Clay, Alton Patton, Jim Turney, Mike Newton, David Harwell, Paul THomas, Brian Stevens, Mark Warren (American )
Bruce Howard, Guy McAllister, Jace Rempert, Abner Pires (Latin American soldiers)

Alternative Titles

Cavernas fantasmas – Spanish title
Fantomgrottornas hemlighet – Swedish title
Das Geheimnis der Phantomhöhlen – West German title
Hemmelig mission i junglens dyb – Danish title
Peligro escondido – Spanish title
Perigo na Montanha – Brazilian title
Pirullinen pimeys – Finnish title
Le Secret des cavernes oubliées – French Canadian title
O Segredo da Caverna Fantasma – Portuguese title
What Waits Below – US title


Variety 23 July 1986 p.20
What Waits Below is a dull rendering of a lost race fantasy yarn. Filmed in 1983 under the title Secrets of the Phantom Caverns, picture received only a test release in November 1984, subsequently appearing in vidcassette stores. […] Extremely tame, What Waits Below meanders around below ground without the expected action-adventure excitement. Except for a huge snake head that attacks in one scene, it is minus the monsters that could have made this a fun picture for kids. An impressive cast is wasted, with most of the attention resting on vast caverns (filmed on Alabama and Tennessee locations), augmented by okay mattework and miniatures. – from a review by Lor


Daily Variety vol.191 no.6 (13 March 1983) p.15 – advertisement
Daily Variety vol.199 no.25 (8 April 1983) p.10 – credits (Film production chart)
Daily Variety vol.200 no.44 (5 August 1983) p.12 – credits (Film production chart)
L'Écran Fantastique no.44 (April 1984) pp.38-40, 45 (France) – article
Filmfaust no.47/48 (August/September 1985) p.14 – review
The Hollywood Reporter vol.278 no.25 (6 September 1983) p.20 – credits
The Hollywood Reporter vol.287 no.7 (22 May 1985) p.1 – note
On Location vol.7 no.10 (February 1984) pp.46, 48, 50-52, 81 – article
Variety 23 July 1986 p.20 – credits, review (by Lor)
Video Business vol.5 no.9 (29 April 1985) p.33 – review
Video Trade Weekly no.28 (3 June 1982) p.1 – note