Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Starcrash
Starcrash! YES! A 4th Dimensional attack!
This may possibly be the greatest film ever made. Seriously- Citizen Kane? Pah, boring nonsense about an old fart’s love for his sledge. Does Casablanca feature David Hasselhoff using a lightsaber to fight a sword-wielding stop motion robot? Well, you get the idea, because none of the alleged cinematic classics feature C3P0 with breasts! Honestly, your tiny little mind is not prepared for the sheer unmitigated awesomeness of Starcrash. The only question I have, is how had I never seen a film where a significant portion of it takes place on the planet of the space lesbians?
Just a warning, but I’ve gone completely picture happy in this review. Because I couldn’t work out which ones to discard, and they are all that funny.
Contains inexplicable Country and Western robots and spoilers below.
Starcrash opens with one of the most obvious thefts from Lucas that I think has ever been filmed. We’re treated to the sight of a *cough*Imperial Battle Cruiser (shuffles feet nervously) slowly scrolling into screen. It’s then attacked by the contents of a Lava Lamp, and your humble reviewer was left in a state that could best be described as “confused”. This is an astonishing achievement, I’ve sat through more rubbish than is healthy for any person, and this is the only film I can think of that had me completely stumped within the first 5 minutes. Mostly because I couldn’t make out what the hell was going on, but partly because I couldn’t believe that an Imperial Battle Cruiser could be defeated by the contents of an ironic lighting fixture that’s mostly found in student bedrooms. Maybe I’ve swallowed too much of Lucas’ propaganda about them, which is likely, because can anyone actually think of a moment in a Star Wars film where the big ships do anything more than serve as a launching pad for Tie Fighters?
Next thing we know, the film cuts to Stella Star (Caroline Munro) and her companion Akton (Marjoe Gortner) as intergalactic smugglers (she does, it has to be said, look a lot better in tight and scanty leather than certain other space smugglers would look) escaping from the Space filth. Some garbage with hyperspace takes place, and then the two naughty fugitives are arrested by head space pig, and winner of 1984’s intergalactic slaphead of the year gong, Thor (Robert Tessier). Sentenced to hard labour for life for being a very naughty space thief (Akton only gets 240 years, which strikes me as unfair), Stella is forced to work pushing (in what can only be described as fuck all clothing) carts full of Radium. I imagine that life for someone pushing radioactive gunk about without proper protective clothing will be short. Anyhow, before she can develop space cancer, she starts a riot and busts out of space chokey. Arrested by Thor again, her sentence is commuted by Space Emperor Christopher Plummer, provided that she teams up with Akton to find Space Prince Simon (really), who has disappeared on the aforementioned doomed mission and is really important to the well being of the galaxy.
So, our intrepid duo team up with Country and Western robot Elle (Judd Hamilton), and Space Baldy Thor to find him. They have three planets to check, and a quick zip through Hyperspace takes them to the first. Elle and Stella decide to investigate, but she is captured by an angry group of scantily clad Space Amazons. After an entertaining fight, that is, and when I say entertaining, I’m not doing it justice- Munro actually jumps on the spot to turn to face her next opponent. This is not high-end fight choreography. Once captured, Stella is interrogated by Angry Space Amazon Queen Corelia (Nadia Cassini), who in a moment of sheer stupidity reminiscent of a Bond film blows evil Space Count Zarth Ann’s (Joe Spinell) entire plot to take over the universe.
Elle busts in and rescues Stella, and the pair attempt to leg it along the beach, but unfortunately, Corelia activates Giant Space Amazon Robot Guardian to chase after them. Things look a bit dire for our heroes, but luckily Akton is able to nuke Transvestite C3P0 from space, allowing them to rescue our heroine. Concluding that planet of the scantily clad buxom space wenches was a bust (why?) they travel to desolate wasteland snow planet, where Stella almost freezes to death (didn’t go out in proper clothing) to be saved in Suspended Animation by Elle holding her hand and using his technology to regulate her temperature. Yup, well known cure for frostbite, this one. Anyhow, on the ship, it turns out that Thor is also a nefarious space dick, and has betrayed them. He thinks he has killed Akton, and is going to leave Stella there to die so he can join the Count and become, and I shit you not, “Dark Prince of the legion of intergalactic space evil”. Or something like that, but the Dark Prince bit was definitely right. Unfortunately for the follically challenged space bastard didn’t take Akton’s magic powers into account. Akton is able to, er, absorb laser rays and uses them to dispatch baldy. He retrieves Stella and Elle, and showing that he also doubles as a microwave, is able to defrost Stella in no time at all.
Unfortunately, it looks like our Space heroes are stranded, because Thor was unable to start the ship to escape. Except, what’s that? Akton knew that Thor was a traitor because he can see into the future (er? What?) and, and I’m not joking about this one either, literally hid the Space Car Keys from the bad guy.
Let me give you a bit of a rundown about Akton at this point. He’s the best god damned navigator in the galaxy (no problem here), sports a quite ridiculous perm (eh, it was the time), seems to know a lot about everything (getting into slightly trickier water), has magic energy absorbing powers (er, say what now), is totally asexual, or at least never put the moves on Munro (not buying this for a second), can heal people randomly with his as of yet undefined “powers” (oh come on), and now can see the future? Anyway, how does spotting the obvious traitor mean you can see the future? Basically, Akton is a walking plot device. Any time the script is in trouble, the writer just went “fuck it, Akton is already magic, is it such a leap of faith for him to be able to bend reality and pull a rabbit from his chutney tube?” This, well not the rabbit thing, I made that up, happens with quite alarming frequency in the film.
Right, where was I, oh yes, escape from Hoth… Anyhow, it’s time for our heroes to investigate planet 3- planet of the Lava Lamps. They’re attacked by the glowing balls of goop, and forced to crash land (except Akton suddenly deems them all to be alright). So, Stella and Elle go out investigating again, only to be ambushed by cavemen that beat the robot into scrap metal using big sticks. Stella looks fucked, but is rescued by Simon wearing a dodgy mask. Which he takes off to reveal an even dodgier permed and mascara wearing Hoff! If you aren’t laughing by this stage of the film, just give it up. Next thing you know, the two are beset by cavemen again, but luckily rescued by Akton wielding (Hallelujah) a fucking lightsaber, which makes short work of the neanderthals.
Through an act of fuckuppery, Stella, Akton and Simon are captured by Count Zarth Ann, who sets his Robot henchmen on them. Akton is stabbed by one of them, leaving the Hoff to demonstrate his considerable knowledge of fencing against the other. Akton comes to briefly to shove the first one into the reactor core, before dying. But, sadly, not before muttering some bollocks about destiny and whatnot. This, actually, is a frequent problem with Aktonguffin. To get round the fact that he’s basically a dick (Stella does notice at some point) and could have saved them a whole shit load of difficulty, he has to mouth platitudes about it being “wrong” to alter destiny. No, Akton, you dick, it’s wrong to allow your best friend (in a totally non-sexual way) to be arrested and then have to cart wheelbarrows of radioactive material around wearing nothing but her underwear. Dick. Nevertheless, after one final platitude he pops his clogs (in a totally bizarre, Dr. Who level quality special effect).
So, the Emperor turns up to rescue Stella and Simon, and uses his magic powers to stop time for 3 minutes to allow them to
have sex twice escape. No sooner are they on board than he orders his men to start a fully fledged space battle and attack the Count. Which leads to possibly the funniest bit of a very funny film, and one of the greatest things ever filmed. The Space Cruiser fires a couple of shiny golden space torpedoes at the castle. The torpedoes smash through the window, and instead of going boom spectacularly they open and two fat guys with rubbish laser guns hop out. Seriously, this happens a few times, and I was in fits of laughter, just at the sheer stupidity of the concept. Eventually, though, it seems that firing your men in golden cardboard at a building isn’t effective, so the Emperor orders Starcrash (which is basically, at the end of the day, crashing something very big into something else very big). Stella, having done fuck all of use all film, volunteers to pilot the collision course. She, obviously, escapes, marries the Hoff and peace reigns eternal in the galaxy.
I don’t normally go into as much detail with a plot as this, but I have done here, because Starcrash is basically a highlights reel of how not to make a film. Almost everything here is cheap, ill-conceived, shoddy, inept and downright fucking hilarious. The special effects, particularly during the final battle, are flat out dreadful, being obvious Star Wars toys on wires, the score is a flagrant Star Wars rip off (John Barry composing), and the plot flirts with insanity.
The writing is truly dreadful, but in a hilarious way, but that isn’t a patch on the acting. Almost every line of dialogue between Stella and Akton for the first half of the film sounds like it should have an exclamation mark at the end of it, and Munro and Gortner deliver their lines as if they’re on coke. To be fair, Munro does eventually calm down, but by this stage of the film sanity is completely out of the window so it doesn’t particularly matter, particularly given her purpose is to look good in tight and revealing costumes. Which she does, to be fair. Munro, as a piece of pointless trivia for you lucky people out there, holds the distinction of being the first woman unquestionably killed on camera by James Bond.
Starcrash rattles along at a fair old clip. Considering it is essentially 4 big set pieces with a load of nonsense joining it together, director Luigi Cozzi doesn’t want to hang around to allow us to look too closely at the plot, acting, and writing. As such watching it almost feels like it should be about three hours long, but instead you’re sitting on the fast forward button. It’s monstrously entertaining, in fact, I’d say it’s hysterical on more than one occasion, but slow it is not.
Nothing left to really say about Starcrash. I’ll just check my list: Akton as Mcguffin? Done, Lightsabers? Done, Hoff? Done, Hoff in Mascara using lightsabre against stop motion robot? Done, Naked female C3P0? done, Lava lamps? Done, Golden Torpedo? Done? Munro’s wardrobe? done. Yep that’s the lot.
It’s quite clearly one of the worst films ever made, and by the perverse rules of the Vault, it’s also quite clearly one of the most brilliant efforts of all time. I actually thoroughly recommend this cheap and cheesy Star Wars rip off, because it is utterly ludicrous, a bold, brazen colourful romp through Space Opera that at no point gives you the slightest inkling that any rational human, even an Italian one, had a hand on the tiller. I haven’t laughed as long or as hard as a film in a long time, and made-up Hoff fighting the robot is so inspired that I think it’ll be a long time before it is topped.
Incidentally, the alternative title to Starcrash is “Female Space Invaders”, which is absolute genius. Totally inaccurate, but they should have gone with it. It’s a wonder Lucas didn’t sue them.
Until next time,