The Curator of Schlock #27 by Jeffrey Shuster
Starcrash (Effects Matter!)
It’s Space Opera month here at The Museum of Schlock, and by Space Opera I mean Star Wars rip-offs from the 70s and 80s. Still, a movie half as good of Star Wars is still good, right? Exhibit A is 1978’s Starcrash starring Caroline Munro, David Hasselhoff, Christopher Plummer, and Joe Spinnel.
Caroline Munro stars as sexy intergalactic smuggler Stella Starr. She is joined by her navigator Akton, a mysterious man who can absorb lasers and wield a light saber. He may be a time traveller, but that’s never made clear. That just makes Akton more mysterious. Still, sexy and mysterious space smugglers are no match for the law. They get captured by a couple of local cops, some blue, bald dude named Thor and Elle, a tough robot who speaks like a good ol’ boy. If you think we’re in store for an intergalactic Smokey and the Bandit, you’re wrong.
There’s an evil count who wants to rule the universe and his name Zarth Arn (Joe Spinell).
Actually, his name sounds more like Zar Zan in the movie so I’ll continue to call him Zar Zan. Anyway, Count Zar Zan is the leader of the League of Dark Worlds. You can tell he’s evil because he keeps saying things like “You must not fail me!” and “Kill them!” Count Zar Zan has hidden a weapon so vast that it would take an entire planet to conceal it. The Emperor of the First Circle of the Universe (Christopher Plummer) is threatened by Count Zar Zan’s massive weapon and decides to send out a search party to go find it. The Emperor of the First Circle of the Universe sets Stella Starr and Akton free. With the good ol’ boy robot and the bald, blue dude, they’re off to the Haunted Stars in search of the weapon planet.
They travel to a planet of Amazon women whose queen can control giant statues that throw swords at people. Still, they find no massive weapon. They travel to another planet that’s an ice planet, and it’s on this planet that we learn that blue bald cop has been working for Count Zar Zan all along. Akton takes care of business and beats the tar out of the blue bald dude. The final planet they go to is a planet inhabited by troglodytes and they smash the robot cop to pieces leaving Stella Starr to be sacrificed or barbequed or something. The troglodytes get zapped by some dude wearing a gold mask that shoots lasers from his eyes. When the mask comes off, it’s none other than David Hasselhoff. Now that’s great cinema.
Akton meets up with them and reveals that the planet they’re on is Count Zar Zan’s secret weapon planet. But the revelation may have come to late. Count Zar Zan shows up with his robot golems to destroy our fearless heroes. Will Stella Starr, Akton, and David Hasselhoff save the universe from the Count Zar Zan and the league of Dark Worlds? Who cares? It’s Starcrash and the special effects suck!
Top Ten Worst Effects in Starcrash
- Those awful static, star backgrounds that have no depth and contain stars that are pink, blue, and yellow. Did someone in the effects department buy the wrong Christmas lights?
- The stop-motion rejects. Greek statues coming to life with herky-jerky momentum should be a plus, but they look like leftovers from another movie.
- Double goes for the golems. They’d feel more at home in a Rankin Bass production.
- That stupid glass shuttle they buzz around in. It looks like a floating ski lift.
- Models that glide along in straight paths as if they were on fishing wire.
- Joe Spinnel’s lip syncing.
- Hyperspace that looks like pink clouds sped up.
- Melted lava lamp wax posing as interstellar demons.
- Big brain alien with human face stuck in fish tank. The tentacles were disconcerting.
- The Christopher Plummer muppet…Oh wait! That’s just Christopher Plummer.
Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47) is an MFA candidate and instructor at the University of Central Florida.