Curved Space

A couple of weeks ago El Kat and I watched the cult classic B-movie Starcrash on DVD. You might be aware of it as it tends to turn up occasionally on clip shows and in discussions of cult films. If you’ve never seen the film the trailer below will give you an idea what to expect:

Those amongst you with sharp eyes will have noticed a very young David Hasselhoff, and a not so young Christopher Plummer in the video. Interestingly they were the only actors that weren’t dubbed in the original release despite the whole film being recorded in English, and almost all of the main cast being native English speakers. The film follows the adventures of smuggler Stella Star, played by Caroline Munro, as she is drawn into the war between the Empire of the First Circle of the Universe and the evil Count Zarth Arn. The Count has constructed a super-weapon that is so massive it needs to be hidden inside an artificial planet. This planet in turn is then hidden in the heart of a region known as the Haunted Stars. He also has a rather smart battle station that looks like a giant robot claw. Sadly he seems to be a bit of an idiot as the main security for his galaxy conquering doomsday device are a tribe of Amazon dolly-birds and tribe of brutish cavemen. Neither of which prove much of a match for our heroes. In fact they’re put in more peril by being betrayed and left on a frozen world than they are by either group.

The film was written and directed by Luigi Cozzi who also wrote several other Italian low budget films in a similar vein. The film itself was partly inspired by Clash of the Titans and partly by Star Wars. In fact it was the success of Star Wars that lead to Starcrash being given the green light. The parallels are entirely obvious throughout the film. Stella is mentored and assisted by Akton, a mysterious alien with the power to see into the future, heal injuries, survive laser blasts to the torso and sporting a natty perm. Akton is played by Marjoe Gortner, a former child faith healer, with such delightful energy that it’s difficult to fault him for the plot holes his character is pushed into and made to climb back out. Sadly he dies of a severe case of Forced-Drama Disorder just about the time Hasslehoff turns up. I think it’s fair to say that Akton is a distant relative of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Much of the sidekick duties in the film are filled by the Texas accented law enforcement robot Elle who seems to be programmed to act like a low budget John Wayne character. I’m not sure what they intended with him, but the voice characterisation by Hamilton Camp leaves me in mind of an older cowboy who’s heart isn’t quite in it any more.

It’s certainly not a masterpiece of film making by any stretch of the imagination, but it is great fun. Like all B-movies there are plot holes that you could drive a bus through, improbable physics and true “WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED” moments including this gem:

Aye, you heard that right: Imperial battleship HALT THE FLOW OF TIME!

The critic in me wants to call this film diabolical, but I rarely listen to that voice any more. Films are entertainment, and I can’t fault Starcrash on that front. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you crack open a can of your chosen beverage, relax and prepare for a FOURTH DIMENSIONAL ATTACK!

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