“These deadly rays will be YOUR death!”

A while back I posted about an old SF B-movie I saw when I was a kid, Battle Beyond the Stars. I saw Battle in this old, somewhat beat-up theater in Hillsboro, OR that often showed double features – which I remember my parents sending me off to with their blessing, only now realizing that it was probably a great way to get an annoying kid out of the house for a few hours. Battle was the main feature that day; the lead-in was another SF flick called Starcrash. Yup, I saw Starcrash in its theatrical run.

If you’re a fan of SF movies, you’ve probably heard of Starcrash — and not in a particularly good way, either. It’s one of the legendarily bad movies of SF history, made on a shoestring budget to capitalize on the SF craze initiated by Star Wars in 1977. I remember kind of digging the movie, when I was 8 years old, but I never saw it again…until a month or so ago. I tracked the film down, wondering just how bad it really was. Is it really one of the worst movies in SF history? Or is it a bit better than I remember?

Well, it’s bad. Really bad. Its badness exists on some kind of epic level. Starcrash is almost a primal force of nature in its badness. Seriously, this is a bad bad BAD movie. But it does have that nice virtue of being bad on a level that’s entertaining in a “watch it just to laugh at it” kind of way.

The main characters is a female star pilot and criminal named Stella Star, who is gamely played by Caroline Munro, a buxom, gorgeous woman whose best-known role was a femme fatale who tries to kill James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me, but upon whom Bond turns the tables and kills instead. (Interesting Bond trivia: Munro’s Spy Who Loved Me character, Naomi, is the first woman directly killed by James Bond in the movie series. Sure, he’s responsible for a lot of women dying, but she’s the first we ever see expire by his hand.) Stella is flying around with a curly-headed guy named Akton, when they incur the wrath of a couple of space cops, one of whom is a robot named Elle. They are basically blackmailed into searching for a lost ship that carried on it the son of the Emperor of space, or something like that. This is important because there are bad guys about, led by an evil Count, planning the conquering of the Empire. Or something like that.

Starcrash is one of those movies where when you try to summarize it, you find yourself saying vague things and using the phrase “or something like that” a lot.

Much of the middle section of the film settles into routine: Stella and friends go to a planet, find the Prince isn’t there, evade some dangers, and go to the next planet. Eventually there is betrayal, a bunch of mystical stuff involving Akton that makes no sense at all, the Prince turns up (played by David Hasselhoff!), we meet the Emperor (played with benevolent and soporific droning by Christopher Plummer), and we finally find out what the title “Starcrash” means. It involves crashing. Among the stars.

Below the fold are some screencaps of the glory that is Starcrash.

This is what space looks like. Kinda trippy – lots of stars of different colors.

Stella Star, on the right, and her trusty sidekick Akton. Ships in this movie are boxy and square on the outside, and filled with circles and ovals on the insides. Weird.

Stella’s line here – believe it or not – is “First you gotta catch me, you dirty cop!” Note the goofy smile on Akton’s face. That’s his main facial expression.

The evil count.

The evil count dispatches his robot assassins!

Stella is taken prisoner and put into a forced labor camp. Wearing this. Zowie!!!

Oh noes! Attack of the fifty-foot big-breasted sword-bearing robot!

Oh noes! Attack of the badly animated robot assassins!

Oh noes! ‘Tis the Hoff!

Hey, a sword that’s a laser! A saber made of light! What an idea!

The Emperor on his throne, which looks like…geez, how would you describe that thing?

If you decide to watch Starcrash, please prepare yourself for a bad movie. Drinking may help.

Here’s the trailer!

(Poster via)

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3 Responses to “These deadly rays will be YOUR death!”

  1. Lynn says:

    Tried to comment on this last night but the comment thingy was acting hinky. Trying again…

    Bad movies are an art form all their own. During the 70's (We lived in NW Ark. at the time.) one of the Tulsa TV stations showed B movies every weeknight after the 10 o'clock news and Friday was sci-fi night. I was allowed to stay up late but I usually fell asleep before the end of the movie. I saw the first two-thirds of a lot of bad old sci-fi movies.

  2. M. D. Jackson says:

    I have that in my collection of Baaad sci-fi. I saw it once probably when it first came out (I would have been 15 or 16 and undoubtedly able to appreciate its badness) I've had it on disc for a while but have never found the right time to screen it. Maybe that time is now!

  3. Jason says:

    Ah, Caroline Munro. She first caught my eye in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. Lovely woman, definitely in that "Rowr" category of yours.

    Starcrash, on the other hand… oy. You've got a stronger constitution than I for making it through that thing!

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