Science fiction has always been popular, from the early days of King Kong and the Flash Gordon serials, through to Planet of the Apes and Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Then, in 1977 everything changed for sci-fi, a movie came out that had a great story, a farm boy, a princess, an evil overlord, (no, not The Hidden Fortress), laser swords, music, everything!
With the success of Star Wars, a band wagon started and producers tried to make another box office smash like it.
One of those ‘Star Wars rip offs’ was Starcrash.
The outline, from IMDb, states:
An outlaw smuggler and her alien companion are recruited by the Emperor of the Galaxy to rescue his son and destroy a secret weapon by the evil Count Zarth Arn.
A COMPLETELY original idea, right?
The movie opens with an ‘epic’ space battle, as Akton (Marjoe Gortner) and Stella Star (Caroline Munro) battle the evil forces of the evil Count (I think, I can’t actually remember, but, it really doesn’t matter…the thing is, there was a space battle). They are then caught, by Chief Thor (Robert Tessier) and his sidekick robot Elle (Jud Hamilton), sent to a jail planet, only to escape and are told by the Space Emperor (Christopher Plummer) they have to find the secret weapon.
Along the way, they find Simon (David Hasselhoff), who’s already on the mission. There are space battles, Amazonian women, killer robots, laser swords, explosions and more!
Say, for example, the budget of Star Wars was $1 mill, then the budget of Starcrash must have been about $48.75 (most of which went on Christopher Plummer).
The special effects are terrible, from the opening battle, where you can almost see the wires of the ships and the lasers just seem to fly anywhere in any direction, to the (actually fairly well) animated killer robots, to the haircuts, to the robot who’s accent is from somewhere in the deep south.
It’s just bad but, so bad it becomes great! The movie was supposed to be a serious, but it’s laughable, almost all the way through.
The overall story isn’t very original or worth watching, but what does make the movie worth watching?
Caroline Munro, is a very beautiful lady and she spends most of the movie in ‘swimwear’ (even on the jail planet). It was interesting to see her outfit change from one thing to another, where there was obviously no one keeping an eye on continuity.
Her and Elle head to a planet, as she gets into the shuttle, she’s wearing a ‘swimsuit’ that has straps across her belly, but when they land on the planet, the straps are gone…and the shuttle was not big enough for her to get changed in.
There are other Amazon ladies, again, in ‘swimwear’, which is mildly titillating, although there is no nudity in the film.
The special effects are terrible. There are a few shots of the ships flying by, I found it fun to try and guess what they had glued on to the frame and sprayed silver to make it look like a spaceship…I’m pretty sure I saw circuit boards from a ZX81, bits of abandoned jewelry, a Fairy Liquid bottle top and other things found in a garden shed. Again though, this is half the fun of how bad it was.
My favorite moment of the whole movie, is where Stella and Elle jump out of a spaceship through an (apparently) open window and then ‘swim’ to another ship.
There is an encounter on one planet with a giant robot (with great boobs), which is almost shot for shot the same as from Jason And The Argonauts. The only difference was that the robot here changes height several times, from about 100 feet tall to about 30 foot at its shortest…which the robot wasn’t supposed to do, but no one was paying attention.
The ‘hero’ robot, Elle, is an amazing piece of engineering and design. Nah, not really, he looks like he was the winner of a kid’s drawing of a robot competition.
In Star Wars, I understand why/how C3PO has a British accent, it’s like he’s talking in the most basic form of English…in Starcrash, Elle seems to have an accent from the deep south of America, which just made me laugh every time he spoke.
The Hoff turns up about half way through. This was one of his first movies, and about 4 years before Knight Rider. His hair (as you can see above), is amazing! There’s something about a man with a perm that just screams class (Akton has another amazing perm as well).
I don’t see The Hoff winning any Oscars in his lifetime, so he is actually pretty good in the movie, he’s doing his best and comes off well…apart from when he throws his golden helmet away, the one that can shoot lasers from its eyes, coz, you know, that won’t be handy at all later.
It was surprising to see Christopher Plummer in a movie like this, you would have thought he read the script before signing up, but it seems he was more interested in where the movie was being shot. He was reported to have said:
“Give me Rome any day. I’ll do porno in Rome, as long as I can get to Rome. Getting to Rome was the greatest thing that happened in that for me. I think it was only about three days in Rome on that one. It was all shot at once.”
So it sounds like he was there for a free holiday.
Joe Spinell, as the evil Count, looks like Darth Vader and Ming the Merciless had a love child. He seems to be the only actor who knows what this movie is going to turn out like and happy to play it all tongue in cheek.
The music is by John Barry, an incredibly talented composer, probably most famous for his James Bond scores. Apparently, he was never allowed to see the movie, since the producers were worried he might back out.
I can’t say the score was all that memorable, but then, I can’t imagine he was paid that much either.
Should you watch Starcrash? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! It’s a great movie to watch with friends and a few beers and play a drinking game, where you swig every time there’s a stupid plot point, a bad hair cut or bad special effects.
The movie is terrible, but, as I have said, so bad it’s stupidly good fun to watch. At the very least, Caroline is very easy on the eye and so is The Hoff to be honest. Might be a good idea to have Star Wars (or something similar) ready to watch afterwards though, as a pallet cleanser.