Instead of Star Wars, Watch This

Spoiler Warning: for a forty year old Z-grade italian movie

Starcrash! You can see it on Youtube probably illegally, or on Amazon. Like Message From Space, it’s a scifi space adventure with fantasy elements that came out the same year as Star Wars. In the case of Starcrash, it was blatantly a dashed off attempt to cash in on the success of the more expensive film. It even includes a knockoff jedi character with absolutely zero explanation for how or why has “powers” such as messing with electricity, resisting lasers, and seeing the future. His lightsaber doesn’t show up until the end of the second act and again has no explanation.

But is it better or worse to not have jedi explained? The deeper we get into Star Wars lore, the more shit like midichlorians we get. The more powers are shown that people find goofy, overpowered, or annoying. You get force ghosts that can do so much they might as well still be alive, which makes death a lot less dramatic.

Starcrash is bad and Italian. I don’t know if the director Luigi Cozzi was fascist, but the way the show was run did inspire communist crew to steal the final print and hold it for ransom. The biggest star in it was Christopher Plummer doing a performance so bad that it’s very well known he was just in it for a free trip to Rome. He seems stoned in a very particular way, which makes me wonder if he was on the same shit as Bill Shatner back in the ’60s.

There’s mention of scanning a planet with “computer waves” within the first few minutes of the film. The hero is Caroline Munro dressed like Vampirella. The robot is a cowboy. There’s a green guy whose face paint keeps rubbing off. There’s a sub-harryhausen giant fembot controlled by the laser brains of a space-amazon. There’s italian space-cannibals flying through the air. There’s a David Hasselhoff space-prince. There’s just a space-lot to space-recommend this.

Oh, and spoiler: There’s a happy ending.


  1. says

    I blame Star Wars for the death of Hollywood. It’s what started the franchise series mega-hit swing for the fences model. And what’s crazy is that so many movies tried to capture Star Wars’ success but without the cheesy dialogue, plot holes, bad acting, and stupid story arc. What buggers me the hardest is watching otherwise intelligent people gobbling up what is, truly, the McDonalds of cinema.

  2. MattP (must mock his crappy brain) says

    Holy shit. And I thought Robot Jox was full of ridiculous acting and effects. Other than Christopher Plummer monologues, did they actually make it through any scene for even 30 seconds without cutting?

  3. says

    What’s more remarkable is that they made it through any scene without laughing. There are multiple shots of the actors where they look like they’re restraining laughter. The whole thing was filmed in three days. The badness is very impressive, but for all that, it has a fun energy which makes it more entertaining than any of the star wars prequels – at least to me.

  4. MattP (must mock his crappy brain) says

    I’ve not seen any of the sequels to the original trilogy (Star Trek was first J.J. film I’ve watched and last I wish to suffer through) and make no effort to rewatch any of the prequel trilogy. Other than pre-re-release cuts of New Hope and Empire, it all tastes of increasing disappointment and Empire really only makes any sense if you assume the story as taking place over the course of many weeks/months despite the lack of costume changes on the Falcon. Rogue One is the only recent stuff I’ve seen and it has its moments, but overall too much “what? why?!?!?!?” in the plot to maintain suspension of disbelief – and I’m not talking about the force or starships. I’ve seen many stupid things in companies and governments, but the citadel and comms systems take the cake. Also, why do rebel capital ships never fire blasters?

    SW:KOTOR for the original XBox is the only story in the SW universe released in my lifetime that I’ve consistently enjoyed and I still replay it every couple years. Unfortunately, the sequel to that rather sucked because of the rush to release before holiday season instead of completing all the storylines. Also, I know it was forced by the “RPG on XBox” requiring lots of text instead of voice overs, but it was still nice to have a story set in a galaxy that was not overwhelmingly illiterate.

    In short, I wish they would just let the Empire/Skywalkers die like the Mouse. Make something different some time and some place elsewhere in the Galaxy without tying into existing storylines. That’s what made KOTOR so fun – there were no possible spoilers or characters constantly taking nonsensical actions to advance convoluted stories twisted to fit canon. It’s a big galaxy with a long history – explore it damn it.


  5. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    MST3K did a riff of it recently. As far as Star Wars ripoffs go, it is actually super awesome.

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