Starcrash (1978)

starcrash poster 1978 movie
1 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 1/10
Visuals: 1/10

So-bad-it-is-good

Complete Star Wars rip-off without any charm or fun

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Starcrash

Studio: Columbia American International Pictures

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure/B-Movie

Release Date(s): December 21, 1978 (West Germany)/March 9, 1979 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

starcrash caroline munro astronaut

Space…the final frontier never looked so cheap

The universe is at war, and Stella Star (Caroline Munro) and her partner Akton (Marjoe Gortner) are using the war to their advantage. When they are captured by a robot named Elle and an intergalactic officer named Thor (Robert Tessier), they find themselves imprisoned…but soon learn that their skills have been requested by the Emperor of the Galaxy (Christopher Plummer) who teams them with Thor and Elle in a race to find a missing ship which could hold the key to defeating the evil Count Zarth Arn (Joe Spinell) and his dangerous galaxy threatening weapon. The race is on and the entire fate of the galaxy is at stake!

Directed by Luigi Cozzi (who wrote the script with Nat Wachsberger), Starcrash is a space adventure fantasy. The film was released to negative reviews but has gained a cult following over the years. It was featured in Mystery Science Theater—Season 11 aka Netflix’s Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return (MST3K 11.6).

starcrash caroline munro david hasselhoff marjoe gortner lightsaber

Lightsaber? I know not of what you speak…now feel the sting of lightsword!

You can’t watch Starcrash without noting a shocking similarity to a little movie called Star Wars which was released in 1977. Cozzi claims that he had not seen Star Wars but read the novelization.  Even if there were some threads of a story out there, Starcrash borrowed heavily from Star Wars…even if Star Wars had never existed, Starcrash would have been a bomb.

The story is nonsense. You have main characters jailed, then rescued from jail almost immediately, assigned to save the galaxy, and sent to plants to find crashed ships. There is betrayal, laser gunfights, and of course the scantily clad Caroline Munro. The story just seems to pack any “sci-fi-y” thing in the movie and hopes a story forms (it doesn’t). It is so-bad-it-is-good however.

While the some of the cast of Star Wars might have had some initial jitters and questionable acting, you can tell they had potential and could get better. The cast of Starcrash doesn’t have the same charm. Caroline Munro doesn’t have much screen presence (except for her costumes) and Marjoe Gortner’s odd superhuman Akton just has powers and abilities necessary to advance the plot (including something that looks shockingly like a lightsaber). The movie features an early role by David Hasselhoff whose fluffy hair rivals Marjoe Gortner’s. Christopher Plummer has said he took the role to get a trip to Rome, and I guess you can’t fault him for that…but it has to be painful to be tied to this movie. I also like the goofy country robot played by Judd Hamilton.

starcrash christopher plummer

The ’70s and ’80s were hard for some actors…

The movie looks awful in addition to being just bad in story in acting. There is some ok stop-motion effects, but they look like a poor-man’s version of Ray Harryhausen. The lasers and space effects are cheap and so borrowed from Star Wars that even the opening shot matches the first shot of Star Wars…I will say the characters went to an ice planet like Hoth before Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back…so it probably stole it from Starcrash (sarcasm).

Starcrash is bad, but enjoyable in its badness. The movie is goofy, cheesy, and makes you question what the actors were thinking when they shot it…did they think it was good? When Star Wars hit it off, did they say “Gee…that seems kind of like the movie we are making”? The movie ends with a soliloquy by Christopher Plummer about the future of the galaxy…maybe Starcrash 2 can still happen someday.

 

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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