Monday, May 13, 2013

Space Opera movie cheese

Looks like one of my favorite cheesy sci-fi flicks of the 70s is coming to the Trylon Microcinema (the tiny local theater in Minneapolis that I love!). Starcrash (1978) starring the incomparable Caroline Munro and The Hoff will be screened next Wednesday!

I already own the flick on DVD, but seeing it with like-minded geeks on a big screen will be a hoot. For those unaware, the film was an Italian production, shot in English on a shoestring budget--one of many space flicks rushed into production after the runaway success of a much more successful space fantasy.

I'm not certain which of it's failings won my love--a nearly incomprehensible plot, perplexing and hilariously overdubbed dialogue, and a fair amount of Harryhausen-esque (but not as good) special effects--but it hits on all cylinders of wackiness.

On a related note, I picked up a copy of Message From Space from Shout Factory (another Star Wars riff in '78, this time from the Land of the Rising Sun). That film is equally ridiculous, in many of the same ways, but with better art direction and the spaceship designs had more whiz-bang. This new version also has some (modest) behind-the-scenes extras that didn't appear on the old import version.

The old version was tragically mislocated in our move last year--foul play IS suspected. When the new version arrived on our doorstep a few weeks ago, I cracked it open while the wife was out, and had a blast watching Sonny Chiba take on Kabuki Vader and his mother who looks like she might have inspired that space witch from Voltron. It is not to be missed!

Curating a Sci-Crapfest!
One of my dreams (sadly) is to see a celebration of these cheesy classics. I'd long pined for the Trylon to do a series on second-string Star Wars (treating them as a genre unto themselves). It'd also be a good excuse to get a few local artists I know to do up some new posters for each film. Had I had the chance to curate (ahem) a film series, here are my official selections:
  • Starcrash - Post-screening discussion: careers of Munro, The Hoff, Roger Corman and Harryhausen's influence over off-brand sci-fi, international SW knock-offs are first to arrive.
  • Message From Space - Post-screening discussion: careers of Vic Morrow and Sonny Chiba, reciprocal Japanese/American sci-fi influences and overlap.
  • Battle Beyond the Stars - Post-screening discussion: John Boy and Hannibal in Space! Robert Vaughn replays himself? Final discussion on Japanese/American sci-fi culture feedback loop continues.
  • Ice Pirates - Post-screening discussion: career of Robert Urich, why the film is so underrated as satire of genre, that funky time travel scene at the end.
While they didn't quite get that full concept, I still get to see some beloved space cheese light up the screen. Can't complain about that!

Starcrash at the Trylon
7:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 22

 On Amazon:
Bonus: Did you know that Wikipedia has a page just for space pirates?


  1. Wish I could join you. I will be in Minny June 19-22 for a wedding. Please inform me of any role playing events and i will try and sneak out!

  2. I'm not aware of any at the moment, but there are two large venues that regularly have gaming: Source Comics & Games and Fantasy Flight Games Event Center.