Director: Luigi Cozzi (aka Lewis Coates)
Cast: Marjoe Gortner, Caroline Munro, Christopher Plummer, David Hasselhoff, Robert Tessier, Joe Spinell, Nadia Cassini, Judd Hamilton, Hamilton Camp
Shout! Factory / Rated PG / NTSC Region 1 / 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / DTS HD 5.1 Surround Sound / 92 minutes
2-disk DVD Extras: Audio Commentary By Writer And Starcrash Expert Stephen Romano / A Look At The Film’s Special Effects With Special Effects Director Armando Valcauda Including Unused Footage, Rare Photos, Original Drawings And More / New Interview With Writer/Director Luigi Cozzi (aka Lewis Coates) / New Interview With Actress Caroline Munro Discussing Her Time As Stella Star And A Look At Her Career / Extensive Stills Galleries Including Behind-The-Scenes Photos, Posters, Stills, Original Production Art And Storyboards / Behind-The-Scenes Footage With Commentary / Deleted And Extended Scenes / Theatrical Trailer / Theatrical Trailer With Commentaries By Eli Roth And Joe Dante, Courtesy Of Trailersfromhell.com / 12-Page Booklet With Liner Notes By Stephen Romano / The Original Script (DVD-ROM)
“So bad, it’s good.” That’s a phrase that horror and genre movie fans have grown to love. As fans, we like to sit around with our friends, drinking beer, eating shitty food and yelling at the screen as some horrible low-budget (or sometimes a big-budget) movie crawls across the screen. Hell, Mystery Science Theater made a whole show revolving around the concept. Filmmakers have made bad movies on purpose to be in that category. They have also made parodies to poke fun at movie makers like Ed Wood, who is probably the most famous of the bad film auteurs. But there is a contingent of Italian directors who have made some real stinkers; Joe D’Amato and the man of the hour, Luigi Cozzi (Contamination, Hercules) who assumes the fake name “Lewis Coates” as writer and director of Starcrash.
Wanted smugglers Stellar Star (Monro) and Akton (Gortner) are caught by the authorities and sentenced to hard labor for many years to come. The Emperor of the First Circle of the Universe (Plummer) then comes to them to ask for their help in exchange for a pardon. They must journey into the Haunted Stars to hunt down and capture Count Zarth Arn (Spinell) who has developed a horrible weapon of destruction and presumably shot down three of the Emperor’s ships, one containing his son, Simon (Hasselhoff). Stellar and Akton are escorted by police officers Thor (Tessier) and his robot partner, Elle. The four of them search for the three missing ships and find them on three different planets; one of bikini-clad Amazons, one of ice (think Hoth from Star Wars) and the last is inhabited by cavemen. They must fight to find survivors and stop the Count before he unleashes his weapon on the billions of innocent people in the universe.
Contrived plot, check. Horrible over-acting, check. Ludicrous dialogue, check. Ridiculous special effects, check. This late ’70s clunker is a classic and fun “so bad, it’s good”. I’m not a huge fan of science fiction but I couldn’t help but fall in love with the charming z-movie personality of Starcrash. The effects are very close to the quality of the old Doctor Who series. A lot of the insides of the ships looked like cardboard boxes with flashing lights affixed to them. The outside of the spaceships were just plastic models hurtling through the air in front of what seemed to be black felt with different colored lights for stars. Stop-motion robots and epic blue screen usage… bad effects heaven! Some of my favorites were the giant Amazon robot with tits that protected the Amazonian planet, the lava lamp monsters and the ship’s computer that was a gigantic brain with a woman’s voice. Oh, and the robot, Elle, he has a southern redneck accent. Wow.
The cast was loaded with exploitation stars like Spinell and Monroe but who would have thought that someone like David Hasselhoff, who is in the headlines seemingly every day now, would show up in a European production like this? But I will tell you right now, he should be in every cheesy movie from the ’70s and ’80s. He fit right in and chewed up his scenes, only Marjoe Gortner out over-acted the Hoff. Joe Spinell who is best known as “Frank Zito” from Bill Lustig’s Maniac was perfect as the evil fucker wanting to rule the universe. But I have to give the award for “Best Reason to Watch Any Movie Ever” goes to the sci-fi sexpot that is Caroline Monro. My god, this woman — who I first saw in another movie with Spinell called The Last Horror Film– is incredible. She has climbed up there with Christina Lindberg, Laura Gemser, Pam Grier and Uschi Digard as my Top 5 favorite genre babes. Not only does she run around in an outfit reminiscent of Vampirella, complete with knee-high boots, but she delivers her lines like “We done it! We done it!” with gusto.
This is one of the Roger Corman flicks I have never seen or heard of before now. But thanks to Shout! Factory releasing these little known gems, I can enjoy it for years to come. The picture and sound quality are very good for the most part –as good as this movie could look– but there are a few scenes that look like they may have been taken from another source and spliced in that suffer a little wear and tear. And the sound in a couple of places changes channels for no reason, but that doesn’t really detract too much from a movie like this. It may even add to its charm.