Starcrash (1978)
AKA: The Adventures of Stella Star (1978)
AKA: Stella Star (1978)
AKA: Star Crash (1978)
AKA: Female Space Invaders (1978)
AKA: Star Battle Encounters (1978)
AKA: Scontri stellari oltre la terza dimensione (1978)

(Release Date: December 21, 1978 [West Germany])
(Italian Release Date: January 1979)
(USA Release Date: March 09, 1979)

Let it SUCK, let it Suck, let it Suck!

An absolutely EPIC... Waste of my TIME!!!

J.C. Maçek III... 

War Cash!
J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!!!

In the years immediately following the release of Star Wars a nearly non-stop plethora of Star Wars clones and imitators oozed fully formed onto cinema screens worldwide... and almost all of them are absolutely terrible... until you compare them to Starcrash!

If Starcrash had a much bigger budget, a better script and fresh ideas that weren't mined from other, vastly superior franchises... it would still suck.

That's right, folks, it has to aspire to suck.

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Seriously, man... take an igloo full of stolen ideas from Star Wars, filter them through the polluted brain of Hercules-director Luigi Cozzi (who "wrote" this screen smear with Nat Wachsberger and R.A. Dillon), recast and combine the major characters with pin-up models, cheap pastiches, poorly constructed substitutes and embarrassing haircuts and, just for international appeal, plug in internationally recognized actors like the iconic Christopher Plummer, the "I think I've seen him in some stuff" Joe Spinell, mean looking Robert Tessier and newcomer top-heavy pretty boy David Hasselhoff, rinse, repeat, mix and serve and what do you get?

Well, you get me laughing my ASS off!

And when I say I'm laughing my ass off, I don't mean, like, just one cheek! I'm not going half-assed with this, man, I'm talking about the whole-ass laughing ass-hole off! Which rhymes with Hasselhoff! Which brings us full circle!

Oh, heaven, hell, heck and LIMBO, that's ninety-two minutes of my LIFE I'll never get back and at least as many brain cells I'm glad to be rid of. Good Grief!

The Star Wars rip-offs and twist-arounds begin pretty much right away! Just after the "opening crawl" (really) we're quickly introduced to "the best astro-pilot in the whole universe", who doesn't look ANYTHING like Han Solo! No, she's Stella Star, as played by super hottie (and erstwhile Bond Girl) Caroline Munro. If the fact that she's most often shown off in her tiny leather bikini (proving the fact that she had about nine percent body fat) doesn't tell you that she wasn't hired for her acting, the fact that this native English speaker was overdubbed by actress Candy Clark should prove that quite conclusively.

But what is Han without Chewie, huh? Well, apparently Cozzi and crew decided to recast Chewbacca with a faux mysterious co-pilot and sidekick named Akton (played by non-actin' actor Marjoe Gortner... who was... married to Candy Clark at the time). Here's the thing, though... the non-prosthetic adorned Akton is a lot less good looking than Chewbacca while managing to be a whole hell of a lot hairier than Chewbacca at the same time.

Good LORD, look at this guy's coiff! I can only imagine how rich his chiropractor must have been with him hauling around that moon-eclipsing "Do" of his. I'm surprised he could stand. His head was bigger around than his waistline, man! He makes the guy from The Greatest American Hero look like he's got a crew-cut by comparison! The guy from Welcome Back Kotter could look at ol' Gortner and say "Damn, man, that's some head of hair you've got there. Whoa!" I kept wanting to walk up to him with one of those Tailor's tape measures and wrap it around his head just to get some idea of the vastness of his cranial adornment. I even looked this guy up and that his first on-screen acting job was in an episode of Kojak, which I find to be either ironic or cruel (or perhaps just the great equalizer).

Seriously, dudes and chicks, the only person to rival the beehive that the Gortinator is sportin' in this flick is David Hasselhoff himself. At one point Hasselhoff pulls off a helmet he's wearing and his hair is so big it looks like he's wearing a COMPLETELY different helmet underneath it. He could safely play football in that skull bush without any other protective gear whatsoever... and Marjoe Gortner's head is STILL bigger, man! WOW!

What's that? Oh, yeah, the... the plot... sorry... it's just that HAIR, man!

So, Stella Star and Akton are, much like Han and Chewie, a couple of interstellar smugglers who are wanted by the law, represented by an almost-Romulan-looking creep named Thor (Tessier) and the almost-cool-looking MALE robot named Elle. The fact that Elle was played, bodily, by Judd Hamilton and voiced by Hamilton Camp makes me wonder why they didn't shoot for credit-economy and just list him as "Judd Hamilton Camp".

Conveniently, although Akton and Star are wild-west wanted enough to be sentenced to hard time far exceeding their own lifespans, as soon as the script calls for it they become best friends with Thor and Elle on a mission from... The Emperor (a very bored and annoyed-looking Christopher Plummer). This, folks, is only the first of many times a character "unexpectedly" changes allegiances in the vain hope of adding surprise twists to the plot.

The mission? To stop the evil and powerful overlord Zarth Arn (the confusingly cast Spinell, whose scariest feature is his skin condition) as he attempts to wrest power for himself and, if they can make it happen, to rescue the Emperor's only son from his crash landing (that being, of course, "The Hoff")!

So, for those of you not keeping score, we've got an outer space Emperor and the evil Dark Lord who is plotting to overthrow him... named Zarth. Sound familiar or even prescient? Well, the rip-offs continue to the point of near-parody.

Most of these rip-offs are dangled around the massive maine of Akton who is revealed to have secret powers that only he understands. These include the ability to tell the future (which he does ONLY when it's convenient to the plot... all other times he claims that this is "forbidden"). He also has the power to create lamely superimposed squiggly neon lines between his sweaty palms, the power to hold up a head with more hair than the collective growths of the contemporary Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and, yes indeed, padawans and younglings, the ability to FIGHT WITH A LIGHTSABER!

This is about as subtle as a MegaDeth single, man. I would point out that the Evil Zarth's stop-motion Robot Soldiers look just a bit like Trade Federation Battle Droids, but that would imply that Starcrash actually gave something BACK to Star Wars, and I could never accuse Starcrash of such a contribution, man!

But speaking of those sad looking things, those jerky and lamely animated robots, these are just a microcosm of how horribly bad the special effects truly are. The sets look like community theatre dressing, the star fields look like Cozzi hired about seventeen teenagers to stand behind a black felt sheet with some wicked-bright flashlights (while dressed in badly lit-up Christmas Sweaters) and the Stop Motion Animation that looked so lame in both Hercules and The Adventures of Hercules turned out to be the result of years and years of improvements over the similar, yet somehow still inferior puppet play we see here.

Yes, folks, I realize this is only one of MANY reviled and horrid lame-ass Sci-Fi rip offs of the day, but many of these managed to have some redeeming qualities. 1979's Space Opera The Shape of Things to Come is often cited as one of the worst ever to clog the sewer of these stolen cinematic stinkers, but even that film managed to utilize some clever practical effects and a pretty decent use of miniatures and The Creature Wasn't Nice had the wisdom and good taste to become a farce. Cozzi (credited here as Lewis Coates, as in "he coats your mind with horrible memories") is able to do none of these things. His space sequences are terrible and at least 20 years out of date, even for the time, his models are poorly realized and move almost as badly as his robots and the comic releif in this film is far from relieving or even comical. Even children would roll their eyes at this crap and the overall effect has the viewer reaching for Excedrin!

Yeah, it's terrible all right. It's worse than the title might imply and worse than you've even heard (assuming you've heard of it at all). However, I would like to point out that Hasselhoff does his best (as always) to make terrible lines sound at least cool (he doesn't always succeed, but then again, what actor could?). Further, Munro looks fantastic, especially when in that little black bikini she fills out so sweetly. On that note, I'd also like to tip my fedora to the character of Corelia, Queen of the Amazons (Nadia Cassini) and her equally beautiful Amazon Henchwomen Dirce Funari and Cindy Leadbetter, all of whom fill out their scanty costumes in as lovely a way as Munro manages to. Yummers! Sadly, there is no nudity whatsoever.

On the other hand, I almost felt bad for Plummer in this role. At times he seems to give his sincere all to the part, speaking his lines as if they weren't written by three inebriated, emotionally stunted thieves who couldn't stop high-fiving each other and snorting down their sleeves. At other times he seems to be damned well ready for his ONE SINGLE DAY on set to be over, man! He has this one look where he closes his eyes and sighs deeply. In context I think this was supposed to be an expression of relief, but it comes off more like he's incredibly irritated, like he's counting to ten to keep from strangling team Cozzi or bitch-slapping Hamilton and his inexplicable southern sherrif accent.

That is... I would feel kind of bad for Plummer if his resume didn't imply that for most of his career he'd agree to be in just about any-fucking-thing, bar none. Look, man, who else's credits include both The Sound of Music and Starcrash or the equivalent thereof? Did he agree to appear in both A Beautiful Mind and fucking Cold Creek Manor with equal gusto? Look, even his legitimate Sci-Fi turn in Star Trek VI can't make up for the fact that he popped up in this thing any more than it can excuse the fact that he said "HELL YES" to appearing in the TV Movie remakes of both On Golden Pond and Dial M for Murder! And the guy's a great actor, too. Is he just that big hearted that he can't say no? If Chris Plummer is still alive when I finally get off of my laughed-off ass and shoot my documentary, I'm going to ask him to be in it. If he says that he can't agree to be in a movie like that, I'll say "Oh yeah? You were in Starcrash!"

I could go on and on and on about Starcrash (and I have... I'm surprised you actually read this far down). Trust me, anybody who tells you "it's really not that bad" is NO friend of yours! Oh, sure, there are laughs to be had here and the occasional jewel in the incredibly rough rough manages to glimmer dimly, but unless you were just clamoring to watch Barbarella stagger around an ice planet with Marvin the Paranoid Android while a giant-headed Jedi wannabe spars with the bald jolly green giant and Joe Spinell acts a surprisingly large amount like JOE SPINELL, then I'm doubting you'd give The Adventures of Stella Star much more than the DOG rating I'm handing it. Hoo-boy... Not even Liquid Plummer could save this clog in the drain of the cinematic sink hole that bad Italian rip offs go to die in. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go get a fucking haircut, man. The ability to create glowing silly string and bash robo-droids with an imitation laser sword does not make up for having a hairstyle bigger than the Kazon/ Centauri answer to Mount Rushmore. See you AND your stylists in the NEXT REEL!!!

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Starcrash (1978) reviewed by J.C. Maçek III
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