The Ice Pirates (1984)

ice pirates poster 1984
3.0 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 3/10

So-bad-it-is-good, interesting ending sequence

Intentionally really cheesy

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Ice Pirates

Studio:  JF Productions

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

Release Date(s):  March 16, 1984

MPAA Rating:  PG


It’s kind of like working at Shotz Brewery…except with shaving and castration instead of beer.

Water is the most important substance in the galaxy.  With the wealthy controlling a vast majority of the water, ice pirates set to even the odds by robbing supply ships.  When Jason (Robert Urich) and his crew Roscoe (Michael D. Roberts), Maida (Anjelica Huston), and Zeno (Ron Perlman) encounter a ship transporting Princes Karina (Mary Crosby), they learn the myth of the seventh world could be real.  Seeking out Princess Karina’s father, they recruit Killjoy (John Matuszak) and a reluctant ally in Wendon (Bruce Vilanch), but the path to the seventh world means passing through a time warp and not all the pirates may survive to tell the story.


Mad Max called and they want their car chase back!

Directed by Stewart Raffill, The Ice Pirates was sci-fi fantasy comedy in the vein of Star Wars.  The movie was grilled by critics upon its release but the film’s B-Movie status gained it a cult following and led to a moderate success at the box-office.

I saw The Ice Pirates when it first came out on VHS…when VHS was still relatively new.  I remember it was one of those movies in the big bulky box with a fun painted cover…perfectly aimed at Star Wars and Indiana Jones kids…but a heck of a lot more adult (almost in the vein of Barbarella).


What kid didn’t want to take home a Space Herpe after The Ice Pirates?

The movie’s plot is very sci-fi based.  It blends aspects of Dune (replace spice with water), Battlestar Galactica, and of course Star Wars.  The movie is very low-high tech (intentionally) and Joss Whedon’s creations like Alien: Resurrection (also with Ron Perlman) and Firefly due echo the idea of the space pirates a bit.  I do however like aspects of the ending and how they shot it (somewhat, minus the bad hair jokes)

The difference between Star Wars and The Ice Pirates (besides the look, acting, and quality) is that The Ice Pirates is very adult at points.  The movie’s very comedic and most of the comedy is sex jokes, bodily functions, or race jokes.  Be it the spaceship being invaded by a space herpes, castration machines, an extended sex scene complete with innuendos, and Bruce Vilanch…being Bruce Vilanch, the movie doesn’t really feel aimed at kids (I remember even thinking as a kid “I shouldn’t be seeing this”), but with no PG-13 rating that is what you got in the ’80s.


Can a movie with Bruce Vilanch and an owl be all that bad?

The movie does have a fun cast.  Urich actually holds the movie well, and Roscoe makes a good wingman.  Angelica Huston is a bit weird to see in this type of film (especially since she soon went on to win an Oscar) and Ron Perlman feels perfectly at home since he’s been in films like this since its release.  John Matuszak makes a good “big man” and it is unfortunate that he died early.  The movie also features a late appearance by John Carradine.

The Ice Pirates will not be fun for a modern viewer unless you grew up with it.  It is cheesy, goofy, bad, but fun (where else can you see a robot wet itself?).  The movie is so bad it is good and can be placed with tons of other ’80s B-Movie fodder and could easily be part of a “bad ’80s weekend”.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @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.

Leave A Response