Saturday, July 21, 2012

Starcrash (1978)

How bad is Starcrash? To paraphrase the Bard, let us count the ways. First, there’s the discombobulated, idiotic storyline—an interstellar smuggler gets sent to the monster-filled home world of an evil wizard in order to rescue the son of an outer-space emperor, aided only by a band of outlaws and robots. Yep, it’s all the main signifiers from the previous year’s blockbuster Star Wars, thrown into a blender and transmogrified into nonsense. (Proving the makers of Starcrash have no shame, the flick even features low-rent light sabers.) Then there’s the garish production design, which blends Buck Rogers-style camp (the heroine spends most of the movie in an outer-space bikini) with sub-Star Wars mechanization, resulting in an aesthetic jumble. Next come the godawful special effects, ranging from chintzy stop-motion monsters to weak spaceship shots. And finally, there’s the abysmal acting, which is exacerbated by sloppy dubbing: B-movie stalwarts including Marjoe Gortner, David Hasselhoff, Caroline Munro, and Joe Spinell hiss and preen through ridiculous performances. Throw all of these elements together, and you’ve got junk so dreadful that even producer Roger Corman, whose company released the picture in the U.S., should have been embarrassed. Made in Italy, and variously titled in different international territories as Scontri stellari oltre la terza dimensione and The Adventures of Stella Star, the picture is nominally a showcase for leading lady Munro, a raven-haired beauty who first caught notice in Hammer horror flicks and a kitschy Sinbad picture. She fills out her barely-there costume nicely, but her bug-eyed acting diminishes her appeal considerably. Even more painful than enduring Munro’s work, however, is watching Christopher Plummer’s stupid cameo as the emperor—could he possibly have been paid enough for this humiliation? And for that matter, how the hell did the producers get A-list music composer John Barry, already a three-time Academy Award winner at this point, to do the score? Mysteries, to be sure, but not worth investigating.

Starcrash: SQUARE


FilmFather said...

I've tried to sit through this as well as Kinji Fukasaku's similarly awful Message from Space (featuring a slumming Vic Morrow), and couldn't make it through either one -- in Message from Space's case, I tried on separate occasions to revisit it, but bailed.

However, something inside me says I should give Starcrash a second chance to trashily entertain me. I mean, it has Caroline Munro and the Hoff!

By Peter Hanson said...

Trust me, it's worse than you might imagine. Only to be watched for masochistic purposes and/or MST3K-style heckling.