Director: Lewis Coates
Writer: Lewis Coates
Distributed By: New World Pictures
Starring: Marjoe Gortner, Caroline Munro, David Hasselhoff, and Christopher Plummer
Release Date: December 21st, 1978
Prepare to be to be hurled into the blackness of a hundred million nights in Starcrash. Stella Star (Caroline Munroe) and Akton (Marjoe Gortner) are space smugglers sent on a very important mission by The Emperor (Christopher Plummer). Their mission is simple. Rescue The Emperor’s son Simon (David Hasselhoff), and find and destroy a secret weapon of unimaginable destruction. However, the evil Count Zarth Arn (Joe Spinell) intends to see their mission fail at any and all costs.
Star Wars has certainly had its fair share of rip offs and sci-fi works attempting to cash in on the success. From Battlestar Galactica to Eragon, everyone wants a piece of the action. And while there have been several “Z” versions of Star Wars, perhaps the most famous (or infamous) one is Starcrash.
To be fair, Starcrash isn’t a complete rip off of Star Wars. Sure, it has lightsabers, planetary weapons, and other similar elements. But it takes a lot from Barbarella, 60s science-fiction, and silver screen science-fiction. However, just because it mixes and matches several different inspirations, doesn’t make this an intriguing film by a long shot.
For starters, the plot doesn’t make any sense at all. The plot’s synopsis is easy to figure out, but the film itself is a convoluted mess filled with plot holes. The scenes’ transitions often times don’t make any sense, and it’s often times hard to follow along with the plot. Even when the characters are explaining it.
And there’s another big problem with the film. There’s four ways dialog can be done. It can be lengthy explanations and/or technobabble (Star Trek), discussions to further examine and expand relationships (The Breakfast Club), trivial subjects (Pulp Fiction), or symbolic talk (The Matrix). Starcrash dialog is all about explaining the plot and attempting to give very pseudo-scientific facts. I admit, there are times when this is charming and gives it the feel of a 60s sci-fi film. Unfortunately, most of the time this is executed poorly. In fact, sometimes the explanations make it more confusing than if they simply allowed the viewer to figure it out for themselves.
However, bad plot and weak dialog could be forgiven if Starcrash had plenty of more exciting elements. After all, isn’t that the point of an exploitation? To throw out story for the sake of action, cheesy special effects, and maybe even a little bit of nudity? However, there isn’t even that much action. Most of the movie uses dialog and the characters walking around. And as expected from a Corman film, the production values are a notch below standard quality. Even John Barry’s (yes, that John Barry) score feels redundant and tiring.
With that being said, though, there are some positive aspects to Starcrash that keep it from being a The Asylum film.
For starters, there’s the action. Although there isn’t nearly as much action as there should be, it is awesome when it happens. When people get hit with lasers, it’s not some tiny little burn like in the Star Wars films. Rather, it’s a huge explosion of sparks that makes bullets look relatively painless in comparison. And while the space ship fights are boring and redundant (reusing shot after shot), the gun battles and lightsaber fights are quite fun.
Plus, if there’s one thing that makes it more interesting than other bad Star Wars ripoffs, it’s the locations. From frozen tundras to Amazonian beaches, this film uses a lot of different locations. It’s not a lack of scenes, as much as a lack of making the most out of them.
Most importantly, though, is the fact that there is the one thing that’s in common with all Corman productions. And that’s a tongue-in-cheek sense of fun. While there are a lot of “it’s so bad, it’s bad” elements in Starcrash, there’s no denying that there’s occasionally a few “it’s so bad, it’s good” elements thrown in, as well. And as mentioned before, this has the feeling of a fun 60s science-fiction film.
Oh, and did I mention that there’s David Hasselhoff with a lightsaber, Christopher Plummer, and a Texan robot wielding two pistols?
Despite the laser exploding, outer space adventures, Starcrash is still a bore. This is one of those films where the trailer is much better than the movie itself. If the film was simply about David Hasselhoff fighting with a lightsaber, Christopher Plummer, and as much action packed adventure as possible, this would be one of the greatest films of all time. Unfortunately, The Hoff comes in about two-thirds into the film, Christopher Plummer is there for only a few minutes, and the moments of excitement are too far and few between. While this isn’t a terrible film, there’s plenty of other more enjoyable Z-movies to watch instead.