As we left off last week in recapping Lewis Coates’s (aka Luigi Cozzi’s) 1979 Italian homage to/rip-off of Star Wars, Stella Star (Caroline Munro) was freezing to death on an icy planet while her longtime partner Acton (Marjoe Gortner) lay dead on the floor of their spaceship.
But Police Robot Elle figured out that he could place Stella in a state of suspended animation, enabling her to survive the deadly cold. And it turns out Acton’s not dead. There’s a really bad fight scene which Acton wins mainly by making goofier faces than Thor…
Acton brings Stella back to life with his magic powers, then they continue their journey to find the last launch. At the final planet, they are attacked by the same space corpuscles that attacked the Murray Leinster at the beginning, giving Caroline Munro a chance to flex her acting muscles.
They survive the attack, and Stella and Elle head down to find the third launch. But trampoline-launched cavemen destroy Elle and take Stella captive. Before she can be sacrificed, she is rescued by a dude in a Zardoz mask that shoots laser beams.
Suddenly, they are attacked by more cavemen, but they are saved by Acton, wielding a lightsaber (remember, this is supposed to be cashing in on Star Wars–there had to be a lightsaber in here somewhere).
Acton saves them, then leads them to the control room of Count Zarthon’s secret weapon. And as they enter, it’s almost impossible not to notice that the costume designer has them all outfitted in matching thongs.
Zarthon confronts them and says he has set the planet to blow up, which it will do as soon as the Emperor arrives to claim his son, Simon (who is actually Hasselhoff). There’s a badly executed swordbattle between Acton and the two animated robots from way back when we first met Count Zarthon. Acton dies from being stabbed in the arm and disintegrates.
Hasselhoff (I just can’t think of him as Simon, sorry) then takes over the sword battle, and it looks as if he actually paid attention during his fencing lessons, whereas Marjoe Gortner always just kind of flailed aimlessly.
And I shouldn’t have to mention it, but this scene is an homage to both Harryhausen’s 7th Voyage of Sinbad (in which Kerwin Mathews fought one animated skeleton) and Jason and the Argonauts (in which the heroes fought seven animated skeletons). And once again, the animation is pretty much sucky.
Once the robots are defeated, the Emperor arrives, but the bomb is set to go off at any second, and the film’s E.T. Ex Machina just died. What can you do in such a situation? Where can you turn? Why, to Imperius Ex Machina, of course. The Emperor merely announces, “Imperial Battleship, halt the flow of Time!” and everyone escapes unharmed.
Cue the final climax. Stella has changed clothes again.
The Emperor launches an attack against Zarthon’s giant Space Hand. Due to the budget, in order to make it look like a lot of ships on the attack, they just keep reusing the same few shots of ships launching over and over again. The entire sequence is padded this way, with repeated shots and confusing editing, because it’s the big finale and they don’t have nearly enough coverage.
The attack climaxes with torpedoes that crash through the windows of the Space Hand, from which soldiers emerge to shoot at the crew of Zarthon’s ship. It’s like the finale of You Only Live Twice crossed with Flash Gordon, only even more scientifically illiterate. And it causes this weird twist in your brain, because your mind is simultaneously going over all the ways it makes no sense (no decompression? they actually survived the landing unharmed? why not just have a conventional payload?) while it’s also saying, “A torpedo full of guys with guns! Cool!”
And by the way, the filmmakers do manage one neat effect by having sparks shoot from both the front and back of blaster victims, as if they are being pierced by the beam.
The attack fails. Zarthon’s forces overcome the Emperor’s soldiers, and all is lost.
Until the Emperor decides to try the most dangerous plan of all. Starcrash! He sends Stella and his only begotten son, Hasselhoff, to pilot a gigantic space city into the giant Space Hand. There’s an enormous explosion, and the Space Hand is no more. Good has triumphed.
However, Stella leaped clear at the last second (really) and is saved by Hasselhoff and Elle (rebuilt!), and all is good with the universe. Roll credits!
So no, the film doesn’t feature superheroes, and no, the film is not really any good, but it is undeniably enjoyable if you like bad film or are drunk enough. And Caroline Munro is still dead sexy, even if they did dub in the bland American voice of Candy Clark (who played slutty Debbie in the George Lucas comedy, American Graffiti).
Next week if I can manage it: one of the main inspirations of Starcrash–Barbarella, starring Jane Fonda.