Picks and Pans Review: Saturday Night Serials, Vol. 11

updated 05/09/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/09/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

This series of tapes may be the way to enjoy serials without risking stultification. Each 60-to-90-minute tape includes an episode from four serials. Phantom Empire (1935) stars Gene Autry, in full cowboy fettle, wandering around five miles beneath the earth in "The Scientific City of Murania." Yes, they have horses down there, also robots that waddle about with what seems to be death sparklers. Undersea Kingdom, from 1936, features Ray "Crash" Corrigan as a naval officer and Lois Wilde as an "ambitious newspaper girl who came to Atlantis in search of headline stories." There they meet surly tyrant Unga Khan, who keeps muttering something about taking his tower to the surface and putting it together. Junior G-Men must have seemed drab even in 1940. The story pits international gangsters against the Dead End Kids, who are without Leo Gorcey. Even the usually blithe Huntz Hall seems dispirited. In The Phantom Creeps (1939), Bela Lugosi, as Dr. Zorka, displays a Z-ray, a gruesome robot and his usual dim view of humanity. The hero, with the terrifically heroic name of Captain Bob West, is Robert Kent. (Rhino, $29.95)

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