Departing the West and beaming to Space, “Star Wars… This isn’t Star Wars… Even with Plummer it’s not even CLOSE!!!” George Lucas dreamed a dream. One only he be!ieved in. Alan Ladd Jr stood behind him, his wife Marcia, and John Williams, but that’s it. The board at Fox tried to stop his 5 Million Dollar Space Opera even after it was greenlit citing commercial prospects and silly premise. George soldiered on undeterred finishing photography as Fox shut down the production. Releasing the film ran into similar trouble, no theaters wanted to show it. A limited Memorial Day Weekend engagement with room to grow were it to prove popular was the best he could get. Lucas planned to leave LA for Hawaii then to avoid seeing it flop. Lines began forming around the block and the rest as they say is history.
Except now everyone wants a Star Wars (1977). Paramount, Disney, Fox. Development kicks into high gear. Starcrash (1978) is one of those children. Caroline Munro, David Hasselhoff, music by John Barry, luring P!ummer to Italy to film some scenes. The result is what you see before you. The Band-eat-o, BB-Servo, Crow T. Robot’s World War Space, Jerry Seinfeld. “Taste this rainbow!”, “Visit LEGOLAND!”, " We don’t need no education…" “I feel like I’m watching a community theater production of Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Lewis Coates did his darndest”?
Luigi Cozzi (a.k.a. “Lewis Coates”) had a wild career in the already-pretty-wild world of Italian genre cinema. He often named female leads ‘Stella’ in movie after movie, including his legendary gross-out sci-fi/horror/spy thriller Contamination, which sadly is way too graphic to be shown on MST despite being extremely riffable.
We watched this one unriffed before seeing it on MST3K and loved it. Caroline Munro was a favorite of ours from her appearances in Sinbad and Hammer Horror movies, so seeing her and an oh-so-pretty baby Hoff in a Star Wars ripoff meant it was an instant watch. It was so gloriously bad, with some of the best cheesy dialogue out there. My wife and I still tell each other “These deadly rays will be your death!” and command the imperial battleship to “halt the flow of time!” It was great seeing Munro get the lead role as an action hero instead of her normal job of standing around looking sultry. Shame they dubbed her, but we take what we can get.
Seeing it riffed was the best sort of topping on an already tasty bowl of ice cream. I could watch this one any time and enjoy it.
I was young enough i saw this in the theaters thanks to my grandfather, who took me to see any movie I wanted the three times I saw him all year., and loved it to death. Other memorable films I loved as a child he took me to:
Yor, to the point I remembered it as an adult.
Battle Beyond the Stars. Every time Corman reused the footage from this, I recognized it immidiately.
Starcrash was another REALLY strong pick in Season 11. It’s another one of the Star Wars clones that had 1/10th of the production design and look horribly dated as a result. This looks like mid/late 60’s sci-fi in comparison. It just goes to show how ahead of its time Star Wars must have looked in 1977.
As for the riffing and host segments, this looks like another episode I’ll have to check out a third (possibly 4th or 5th) time. I don’t remember a ton of it, but, hey, Pod People is over and my Season 11 blu-ray box is right here…why not?
Marjoe Gortner in this movie defies description. He was a child evangelist who was featured in a documentary when he decided to walk away. The film was a little ahead of its time, considering how ubiquitous televangelists would eventually get in the 80’s.
To go from evangelist revivals to Starcrash a few years later is like if Joel Osteen became the next major star of Fast and Furious…then again, I shouldn’t give whoever’s in charge of that series any more outlandish ideas.
According to Brandon Tenold, there is a Starcrash 2…but it’s absolutely horrid that it’s barely worth mentioning. No Munro to be found, and a hundred times more low budget, to boot (potential language warning ahead) :
Of course, MST3K did a fine job with this one, the movie that included that insufferable robot with the western accent. My previous experience with Starcrash was seeing another, earlier riff by an MST tribute group called Media Center Theater 3000 (MCT3K) that did 2 movies, the other was The Giant Claw.
MST’s was great, the other was outstanding. The highlight was one bot doing an extended horse race riff* over the scene with all the space vehicles exiting the main starship doing battle. That was genius!
Sadly, YouTube apparently snuffed it from its platform, along with their other riff, over copyright. And looking through the internet in full, seems the only references to MCT3K are a couple places where I sang its praises.
I’m even more grateful now for MST3K taking that movie on. Maybe another movie for season 14 could be…?
*I just happen to have typed this on Preakness day.