Been wanting to blog about this for a while. We rented Starcrash from Netflix after seeing several references to it in my Sci-Fi Baby Names book.
Oh my god. It was A.W.F.U.L. And I love awful movies. But it was like, mind-wrenching, jaw-dropping awful. Oh man. Did I mention it was bad?
Considered a low-budget response to “Starwars,” this Italian knock-off is a sci-fi epic featuring plastic clothes, big boobs and some really bad dialogue, acting, props, etc. You name it – it’s bad.
My all-time favorite part of the movie? When torpedos are launched from one spaceship to another, the torpedos crash through glass windows. The glass shatters and falls inside the spaceship. The torpedos land clumsily on the floor of the spaceship. Then, in a stroke of creative genius, the tops of the torpedos swing open and two armed men pile out to rain down a hailstorm of destruction! Hahahahahahahah!!
Did I mention that this is Hasselhoff’s first movie?!?!?
To highlight how bad it is, I have shamelessly copied some of the review off of BadMovies.org. I didn’t write any of the following – credit all to Andrew at BadMovies.org. His review is spot-on! I’m still laughing at it!!
Stuff To Watch For:
2 mins – Neither of these men have ever had acting lessons.
22 mins – If he was your only son and rightful heir to the universe, what were you thinking?
27 mins – Notice the forklift tracks in the sand next to the shuttle.
34 mins – How does the temperature drop thousands of degrees? You mean it falls below Absolute Zero?
38 mins – The special effects guy must be asleep; those clouds are blowing through the mountains.
46 mins – How does knowing that Thor was a traitor provide concrete proof he can see into the future? Hello?
52 mins – Elle was not seriously damaged by a laser rifle earlier, but a caveman with a club takes him out!
75 mins – WHAT? The torpedo crashes through the window of the Count’s fortress, no decompression occurs, and men jump out of it?
76 mins – Wait, did I just say window? Who put a window there?
This is one of my favorite bad movies. It lacks any sense of reality, is rife with ridiculous dialog, and is filled with special effects that are extraordinary in their cheesiness. I have never grown tired of watching it and recommend it without reservation to anyone who enjoys other than fine films. Heck, even those who usually avoid the type of movies celebrated on this website should give it a try. It is that good at being bad. I love this movie. I wish it was a girl, so I could break her ankles and keep her chained to a bed in a remote cabin. There, with no worry of discovery, I could read her my poetry (about her) and feed her sauteed songbirds caught especially for her consumption.
I think I am going to cry.
Okay, creepy homages to “Misery” aside, you absolutely must see “Starcrash.” Let me explain why.
People who love bad special effects will believe that they have died and gone to Heaven. Space is a glorious backdrop of colorful stars; it looks like somebody went nuts with a Lite Brite set (do not miss the constellation, in the shape of a “J,” that is visible in almost every scene). Most of the explosions, including spacecraft being destroyed, are realized through impressive displays of fireworks. It is rare for more than five minutes to pass without a flurry of laser beams criss-crossing the screen that result in fantastic showers of sparklers when they hit. Last, but not least, are the spacecraft models. The ships are insane clumps of cans, thread spools, and spare parts from plastic model kits (including the old space shuttle Columbia kit that I built as a kid). Some of the sprues are just glued onto the outside of the models to add chaotic detail. I think I saw tank treads still attached to one sprue. The result is something shaped like the “spaceships” that are created by four-year-olds using basic LEGO blocks, except these masterpieces are painted a solid color.
The movie starts as an imperial DUPLO-class battlecruiser searches for Count Zarthan’s secret base. Before the planet is pinpointed, the crew is attacked by the contents of a lava lamp. Three lifeboats manage to jettison before the doomed warship goes down with all hands.
Elsewhere in the universe, Stella and Akton are on the run from the intergalactic police. When Elle and Thor show up on Stella’s videoscreen, the smugglers leap into hyperspace and start spouting incredible dialog at a frantic pace. They continously deliver crazy lines, with verve, for the rest of the film. Eventually, Stella does calm down and says a few lines without the need for an exclamation point, but Akton continues to speak like an overcaffeinated fiend until he finally fuzzes out (possibly a natural correcting effect of the universe – it probably realized that Akton was a mistake and simply erased him).
Getting off track here, but you have to understand what I mean by incredible dialog. I have watched thousands of these films. Very few movies reach the level of “Starcrash” in both the content and delivery of what is said by the characters and, when they do, it is only for short peaks. The bad movie dialog in “Starcrash” is like finding a plateau the height of Mount Everest.
During their flight, Stella and Akton encounter one of the launches we saw earlier. Stella swims across to investigate and discovers a lone survivor whose mind was damaged by exposure to the lava lamp weapon. The pair of rescuers are evaulating their new vegetable when Thor’s fighters surround their ship. Stella is sentenced to life in prison at hard labor, while Akton gets off lightly with a two hundred and twenty-year sentence.
Prison life is not kind to Stella. She spends all day carrying a gurney loaded down with radium for the nuclear furnace. Not the best line of work for a woman who wears outfits that bare a lot of skin. Heh, maybe “life in prison” was something of a misnomer and “carrying radium fuel until you puke your internal organs out” is more accurate. The lovely criminal is spared the nuances of radiation poisoning after inciting a prison riot and escaping. She makes it out just in time; a prisoner shoots the reactor with a ray gun and the prison blows sky high. Then a ship lands directly in front of Stella. The Emperor’s only son was aboard the lost battlecruiser and he is willing to pardon both of the smugglers if they help find the missing prince. Thor and Elle will accompany them on their quest.
Of course, the only individuals who can find the Emperor’s son and destroy the Count’s secret weapon are a pair of criminals, one of whom just contributed to the destruction of an imperial prison and contaminated half of a planet with radioactive fallout. It worked for “The Dirty Dozen” (except for the nuclear meltdown and ray guns). Why not here?
Using data from the recovered launch, the searchers identify the location of the lost battlecruiser and the other two lifeboats. Stella and Elle investigate the first crash site. They find the launch, but they also encounter a party of Amazons on horseback. The female warriors appear benign until the group returns to the Amazon base. There, the queen, who appears to have a beef with Elle, blasts the robot with a laser pistol. Stella is subdued after an awesome judo chopping battle with the Amazons, but is saved from mind bending torture when Elle proves he not only looks like a Honda, he is also built like one. The pair beat a retreat to the ship, though they have a difficult time avoiding a colossal female robot that chases after them.
How do I know the robot is female? It has huge metal boobs, with caps for nipples. When was the last time you saw someone build a “male” robot with man boobs?
The second planet surveyed, where the battlecruiser crashed, is even more hazardous. It is a world covered by ice and snow. Once more, Stella and Elle venture out and locate the wreckage. This is also a bust, because the debris field is nothing more than some scraps of metal and frozen bodies. Unbeknownst to the away team, Thor has knocked Akton unconcious and taken control of the ship. Upon returning to the ship, Stella yells for Thor or Akton to open the outer hatch (yes, they are yelling to be heard though the hull) and is stunned when Thor tells her that he intends to be Zarthan’s right hand man. A mysterious fault in the ship’s computer prevents Thor from lifting off, but Stella is sure to freeze to death outside. Fortunately, Elle has a plan. He takes Stella’s hand and both of them lay down on the snow. Using his circuits, he keeps her body temperature regulated to prevent death.
Years ago, the idea of Elle keeping Stella warm by holding her hand amused me. Recently, I read about a DOD project to improve the basic foot soldier (or Marine, as I would have it). One invention was a ball that could be cooled or heated. By holding the ball, a person’s core body temperature was regulated, allowing them to survive in ice water or avoid heat exhaustion in a desert environment. Facinating stuff, but I still doubt that Elle’s internal Stella heater would actually prevent death on a world where the temperature drops “thousands of degrees” at night.
If these people use Celsius, that means the temperature is below absolute zero.
Akton proves the old adage “You can’t kill Marjoe Gortner with a stun wand set to ‘slaughter'” when he sits back up and quickly defeats Thor. With the bald traitor out of the way, he contacts Elle and uses his fancy navigator powers to carefully thaw out Stella Star. Reduced by one, the party continues on to investigate the last planet on their list.
In case you were wondering, Akton is 95% McGuffin. He knew that Thor was a traitor because he can see into the future. In addition to his navigational expertise, he has powers too numerous to catalog. At any time, Akton might randomly manifest sine waves above his palm, repel death rays, thaw out a frozen friend, or wield a lightsaber (don’t laugh, it happens). If he can also bake a quiche, this guy would be a natural for “The Bachelor.”
The third planet is the most dangerous of them all. As our heroes approach, the scoutship is attacked by the lava lamp monsters. Our protagonists survive, though Stella screams a lot and Elle malfunctions. Otherwise, they emerge from the attack completely fine (personally, I think that Akton’s mere presence saved them – he is highly resistant to anything from the 60’s). For the last time, Elle follows Stella to the planet’s surface. They locate the lifeboat, but they are attacked by a tribe of hopping cavemen. Elle is bashed apart and Stella captured. I am uncertain if the cavemen intended to use her for food or entertainment, but it is a moot point. Simon appears and zaps the cavemen with laser beams from an “energy mask.” However, defeating the cavemen requires Akton to come charging to the rescue with his lightsaber.
Oh, by the way, Stella does not know that Simon is the Crown Prince of the Universe, yet. She is clued in after the trio locates the machinery that generates the hallucinatory lava lamp monsters. Yes, the weapon is nothing more than an illusion. Makes you wonder why it worked on Elle, doesn’t it? No sooner does Simon say, “We need to destroy this machinery.” than the Count, accompanied by a platoon of guards and two robots, enters the room. The evil tyrant wanted them to find his secret base. His plan is to lure the Emperor there and then activate the planet’s self destruct, blowing all of his enemies to pieces, FOREVER! (There are a few times during the movie that the Count states he wants to blow someone to pieces “forever,” as if that is often a temporary condition.) Anyway, the Count departs, leaving the two robots to prevent Simon and his compatriots from escaping. Akton challenges the automatons and is mortally wounded during the battle. Ignore the fact that a central character dies here, because the main attraction is David Hasselhoff using a lightsaber to fight stop motion robots!
Try saying that last line to someone who has never seen “Starcrash.” People look at you as if a reproductive organ is growing out of your forehead.
Things look bleak, but the Emperor finally comes to the rescue and uses a nifty little ray that stops the flow of time, thus allowing everyone to escape before the planet explodes. With the Count mistakenly assuming that all of his enemies are dead, the time is perfect for a surprise attack. Imperial fighters swoop down on the Count’s fortress, which looks like a claw and clenches into a fist during the battle, but the “torpedoes” are the best part of the battle. Golden torpedoes are fired at Zarthan’s fortress. The missiles crash through glass windows and land in the Count’s control room. Now, if these things were filled with baking soda and vinegar, one of them exploding would have killed Zartharn and wrecked the bridge. Instead, the torpedoes’ tops flip open and two imperial troopers pop out of each one! A massive firefight erupts in the control room as the Count rallies his men with motivating quotes like, “Kill them! Kill them all!”
If you thought that Padawan Hasselhoff caused people to react with disbelief, you should see the look on somebody’s face when a gold torpedo smashes through a window and men with laser carbines jump out. “What the HELL?” does not even begin to cover it. I have watched that scene countless times and it still causes me to collapse into giggles.
Eventually, the Emperor’s forces are defeated. Saddened by the loss, but resolute to achieve victory, the Emperor proposes a desperate plan; they will use Starcrash. This impressive sounding term has a very simple meaning: they will ram the Count’s space fortress with another, equally massive, object. Stella is the obvious choice for a pilot.