Following the incredible success of Star Wars, movie studios tripped over themselves to deliver more entertainment to audiences hungry for space operas. But whereas Star Wars was a project filled with passion and a lot of talent, most of its rip-offs were mainly cheap cash-ins without any sense of awe.
In many ways Starcrash was no different: farmed out to an Italian studio, it was made on the cheap and as such spared no expense when it came to terrible acting, horrible effects and arguably the worst spaceship models made this side of toddlers playing in a sea of Lego. The warning signs emerge in the first minutes: a blatant rip-off of Star Wars’ opening scene, except with a spaceship that looks like someone’s drunk craft project and lit about as competently. We are then shown two characters who truly have never acted in their lives, soon to be destroyed by a planet-killing secret weapon that can be best described as a lava lamp.
From here it just gets better – or worse, depending on your like for bad movies. Before Starcrash has completed its 94 minutes, you will be treated with amazons, cavemen, lasers, red horses, a giant squid-head thing, more lasers, a robot bounty hunter with a southern accent, the most outrageous bad guy to ever appear in a movie (complete with cape), extra lasers, and the hero Stella Star: the best smuggler/pilot in the galaxy and equally talented in wearing skimpy leather outfits. She also only knows two expressions: kick ass and kick ass.
But unlike other rip-offs, Starcrash has real heart. Indeed, there are who argue it is even better than Star Wars. They have a case: Star Wars is the runner who wins the marathon in style, setting a new record. Starcrash is the runner who woke up hung-over, so just continued drinking, and runs the marathon wearing a giant animal mascot costume. There are times when it gets lost, runs in the wrong direction and even cheats. But that never stops it from handing out high-fives and adding dashes of hooch to the water it gets from the crowd.
Star Wars gets the job done. Starcrash forgot what it was supposed to do, so it just goes for everything. Fans are right to point out Starcrash is a lot more adventurous that Star Wars. It has better sci-fi settings and far more awesome moments for special effects, though sadly the actual effects never measure up – unless we are scoring by cheesiness and sheer moxy, not execution. Still, it comes across as awesome, especially when you realise the ship computer is a giant plastic brain.
The actors clearly knew this was going to be a turd, so they just went all-out, and the Italian crew saw a chance to pay crooked homage to everything – Star Wars, Jason and the Argonauts, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Planet of the Apes – hell, whatever they could fit in. Fans of alternative sci-fi will be constantly reminded of Heavy Metal magazine stories and the art of Moebius. Along the way Starcrash tell a story filled with contradictions, plotholes, ridiculous dialogue and more.
This was all done with great seriousness: Starcrash is not a comedy or a parody. It was a proper space opera, just a terribly bad one. But there is no lull here: Starcrash keeps on giving and giving. It is impossible to hate this movie. Still, its debut was unsurprisingly a huge disaster – even the studio that funded it declined to release the film. But Starcrash has cultivated a huge cult following and today is considered as the best bad film since Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space.[/column] [column size=one_half position=last ]
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Last Updated: July 14, 2014
Admiral Chief Fairburne
July 14, 2014 at 15:42