Monday, July 07, 2014

Starcrash (1978)

Note:  I’m going to give away major details, including the ending.  If you’re not into spoilers, you may want to skip reading this until you’ve seen the movie.

Shortly after I was born, Star Wars came out.  A lot of things happened as a result.  Most of these things were movies similar to Star Wars.  Paramount was prompted to scrap a TV show to make a Star Trek movie.  Battlestar Gallactica was made.  There were other movies and TV shows, many of which have faded off into the background.  I might not have known about Starcrash had it not been for  There’s good reason for that.

The movie starts with a ship looking for Count Zarth Arn, an evil-overlord wannabe, who has this weapon that can drive people insane.  When the ship closes in on Zarth Arn, it’s attacked by these red blobs.  Three people manage to escape, leaving the ship to crash and burn.  We also have two people, Stella Star and Akton, trying to evade the police.  They’re caught and sentenced to life in prison. 

Stella manages to escape from prison only to discover that she’s being released by The Emperor of the Galaxy to find the ship.  It’s pretty important; his son, The Prince of the Galaxy, the only heir to the Empire, is on that ship.  Hopefully, he managed to make it to one of those escape pods.  Oh, and it turns out that Akton knew all about this.  He has precognitive abilities.

So, Akton and Stella are off under the watchful eyes of Police Chief Thor and Robot Sherriff Elle.  (Elle has a southern accent, so I’ve taken to calling him Southern Elle.)  They manage to find the first pod on a a sandy planet of Amazonian women.  How do we know they’re Amazonian?  Who else would build a giant robot with breasts?  They try to kill Elle and actually capture Stella.  Stella is taken to their leader, who’s in with The Evil Count.  Elle didn’t actually die, though.  He’s able to save Stella and make it back to the ship, but not before meeting the aforementioned giant robot.

The next pod is on an ice planet.  Elle and Stella are once again sent out to locate the pod, leaving Thor to knock out Akton and reveal himself to be one of The Evil Count’s minions.  Thor’s plan is to leave Elle and Stella to freeze to death.  Being that Akton can see into the future, he saw the whole thing coming and was able to prepare.  In a stunning comeback, he beats Thor and lets Elle and Stella back in.

With Thor no longer in the picture, Elle is left to see Stella and Akton to the third planet.  It turns out that this is the planet with the mysterious death blobs we saw in the beginning.  The party survives to meet the natives, who subsequently beat the circuits out of Elle, leaving Stella to run and find this masked guy who can repel the natives. With a light saber, no less.  Oh, and it turns out that he’s played by David Hasselhoff.  This fact alone makes the movie worth sitting through.  Those that grew up in the 80s may remember a show called Knight Rider.  Seeing Michael Knight wearing just a little too much makeup and waving around a light stick is definitely worth the price of admission.

It also turns out that this is where The Evil Count’s weapon is based.  The party manages to find it, only to have the Count show up and set the entire planet to autodestruct.  Fortunately, the Emperor isn’t going to let his son die.  He has the technology to stop the flow of time just long enough to explain what he’s doing and get everyone off the planet.  (Well, almost everyone.  Akton has outlived his usefulness and fades off into a low-end light show.)

So, now that the Prince of the Galaxy is saved, the Emperor can get the business of properly defeating the Count.  This proves to be difficult.  It eventually takes a last-ditch effort to defeat the Count, thus saving the day.  Most of the major characters live happily ever after.

As I said, I found this through  This is not a movie to be taken seriously.  You know a movie is going to be bad when the movie uses the same shot of space over and over again.  Not only that, the shot has way more stars than one would expect to see.  Yes, there are stellar nurseries out there that have a lot of stars, but I wouldn’t expect to see that many stars that many times.  Add to this the obvious use of models.  It’s almost laughable.

Akton was an interesting character in that he was obviously what’s called a McGuffin.  His only purpose was to serve as Deus Ex Machina whenever the characters got into trouble.  He mentions that revealing the future is illegal, which implies that they’ve had to deal with the issue.  However, it’s perfectly ok for him to see the bad guys coming and do something about it himself.

Then, there are The Emperor and his son.  If you were the ruler of the galaxy, why would you let your only heir out in battle?  You’d think that this would afford him some protection.  Yes, he’s serving with a military crew, but it’s a dangerous situation he’s going into.  You didn’t have to be Akton to see something like this coming.

Oh, and why would the Count destroy the planet with his megaweapon on it?  Did he have others?  He stated that the whole thing was a ruse to lure the Emperor to the planet, but that didn’t seem to go that well.  You’d think you’d have a backup weapon, especially a weapon that powerful.

This is one of those movies I’d recommend for a good laugh.  Very little is objectionable.  The only notable exception is seeing Stella in some rather revealing clothing.  I was able to get this streaming through Netflix, which meant I didn’t have to waste a lot of time or effort on it.  Also, it was made in Italy, which explains some of the poor dubbing.  (There’s not much, but it is noticeable in places.)  It’s not a great movie, but it is watchable if you don’t expect much from it.

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