Review of “Starcrash” (1978)

Trailer from YouTube. It’s no more comprehensible than the movie

We ducked out on a bad rerun on Svengoolie and chose this gem, a color sci-fi Star Wars rip—er, Star Wars-inspired flick.

Plot:

The opening shots show the bottom of a white starship passing over the viewer. Where, oh, where has that appeared before? No crawl to set the action a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, however. Aboard the ship, transparent red blobs attack people who are looking for the hiding place of the evil Count Zarth Arn. Three escape pods leave, but the ship itself is lost.

Meanwhile, smugglers Stella Star (Caroline Munroe) and Akton (Marjor Gortner) run afoul of the imperial patrol. Police Chief Thor (Robert Tessier) and robot sheriff Elle (Judd Hamilton, English dialogue voiced by Hamilton Camp). Our heroes escape into hyperspace. They come across a random derelict ship where they find one of the escape pod survivors. He is in bad shape and can tell them nothing, not even how he got on a ship from the escape pod.

The long arm of the law catches up with them. Much mustache twirling follows. Stella and Akton are tried for piracy (wait… aren’t they smugglers? Oh, it’s so confusing) and sentenced to separate prison labor colonies.

Interestingly, Stella keeps her bikini-ish costume in prison. Her labor involves dropping white beach balls into what looks like the nuclear reaction in the Batcave. She quickly stages an uprising; guards and inmates alike are killed. ‘Nuff of this prison stuff. Stella sprints off in her bikini and inappropriate footwear.

Outside, she finds… a starship—whaddya know. Thor and Elle stop her. And they take her to an orbiting spaceship where—whaddya know—Akton happens to be waiting. So that prison uprising was for nothing? All those people died for just a chance to go “Pew-pew-pew” with their funky weapons? They’re getting the band back together or something?

Wha—?

Oh, this will make sense now. The Emperor Palp—I mean, the Emperor (Christopher Plummer—in a role he probably didn’t ask his mom to watch) communicates by holograph. He’s heard good things about Stella’s piloting skills. (She’s a smuggler and a pirate?). He’s commissioning her to find his son, a victim of an attack by the evil Count Zarth Arn. The evil count has some fantastic weapon hidden in a secret planet. How does he keep a planet secret? The Emperor’s son was looking for this weapon when he disappeared.

Okay…

I’d ask what could go wrong, but I’m not sure there’s anything that makes sense. And Stella’s clothes keep getting weirder.

Thoughts:

We saw the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of this. Maybe it makes more sense without the added commentary, but I have a hard time picturing it. For example, the spaceship our heroes travel in for most of the movie has two main round viewing ports with a wide separator between them, giving the impression they were traveling through space looking out through a giant ape’s skull. Stella flies/swims between spaceships Superman style, with one fist raised, untethered. Some characters have random powers, such as being about to shoot lasers out of their eyes. This trait is never explained. However, a giant animated amazon statue with prominent boobs does not shoot lasers either out of its eyes or its boobs. What appears to be an uncomplicated wound to the upper arm proves fatal.

The outfits Stella and other women wore—like the uniforms of the amazon warriors who attack her and Elle—might remind the viewer of the clean parts of “adult” films. And, frankly, so did the dialogue. Just the same, there is no sex.

The special effects are… special. I can forgive that. Sometimes they’re more enjoyable than the big-bucks special effects. I can’t forgive plots that don’t make sense, nonsensical dialogue, and too many moments of “Wha—?”

Of course, the good guys win. And the bad guy goes down in a humiliating defeat, shaking his fist amid smoke and sparks while his underlings flee. Just can’t get good minions these days.

Yeah, I’d give this one a wide berth.

If, for some reason, you wish to see this movie, it can be watched here.


Title: Starcrash (1978)

Directed by
Luigi Cozzi…(as Lewis Coates)

Writing Credits
Luigi Cozzi…(screenplay) (as Lewis Coates) &
Nat Wachsberger…(screenplay)
R.A. Dillon…(additional dialogue)

Cast (in credits order)
Marjoe Gortner…Akton
Caroline Munro…Stella Star
Christopher Plummer…The Emperor
David Hasselhoff…Prince Simon
Robert Tessier…Chief Thor
Joe Spinell…Count Zarth Arn

Released: 1978
Length: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Rated: PG

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

11 thoughts on “Review of “Starcrash” (1978)

  1. There are several low budget science fiction movies that try to attract a young audience by having women run around in bikinis. I bought one myself. It was a mistake. I forget the name of it. Thank you for an excellent and honest review.

  2. It’s amazing how many movies are made. Some are overlooked gems or good fun. And some, not so much. I enjoy reading your reviews, even when the movies don’t make the grade.

    1. Thanks, Vickie. Even bad movies can be fun. Sometimes they’re just silly, and that’s okay. My husband and I watch one on Saturday nights with pizza. It’s just a way of enjoying the evening.

      But stinker is as stinker does.

    1. Thanks, Patti. The guys were not hard on the eyes. But everything else about this movie—like figuring out what the hell it was about—didn’t quite make up for it.

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