Saturday, 5 February 2011

In space no one can hear you laugh...

Star Crash has got less of a cohesive plot than a series of random happenings one after another. Luckily for us, these are really cool moments. As such, the plot is best recounted in the rushed manner of a schoolboy who’s had too much e-number-heavy fizzy pop while at the cinema.


“Breathe, Little Billy, breathe”

Made in the post-Star Wars, sci-fi crazy, late 70s, Starcrash was conceived, written and directed by Luigi Cozzi, (who’s most noteworthy other credit is as director of the Italian language version of Godzilla, cobbled together out of the original Gojira, the Americanized Raymond Burr version and some cheaply colourized World War Two footage). Often criticised for being a cheap Star Wars rip off, Starcrash was actually written before A New Hope was released. Visionary Cozzi struggled to make a film that lived up to his original aspirations, however budgetary constraints and a constantly nagging studio demanding he “make it a bit more star warsy” was bound to lead to problems. This uphill battle was not made easier when prop failures and poorly exposed film of some of the exciting climaxes of sequences resulting in unusable and ultimately lost footage, and thus plot strands that never really pay off. However, Signore Cozzi deserves a tip of the hat in recognition of managing to piece together an thoroughly enjoyable cinematic experience from what was left.

Starring Caroline Munroe (who readers of a certain age will fondly remember as the slave-girl from 7th Voyage Of Sinbad) as the clothes-phobic intergalactic smuggler Stella Starr, Joe Spinner delivers the wide eyed pantomime villain Count Zarth An (following small parts in Taxi Driver and the first two Godfather films, he fancied a bit of proper acting) , and drunken heartthrob David Hasselhoff as the space prince.

For such rushed shambles, the production design is gorgeous. From the opening shot of a charmingly obvious miniature space ship (I’m sure I spotted some sprues from an airfix kit stuck on the side) cruising through an every-felt-tip-in-the-packet, spacescape (reputedly made by literally hanging fairy lights in front of some black cardboard, no Star Trek style poring over NASA’s star maps for these cats) to the final scenes in front of the Alien King’s snazzy throne the Italian eye for design shines through.

Special mention must be made of the score, composed and conducted by the great John Barry who sadly passed away this month. While he is quite rightly best remembered for his bombastic Bond scores and heartbreaking work on Midnight Cowboy and The Deer Hunter, he was also willing to put the graft in on less prestigious projects. Echoes of his better known work can be heard throughout, most clearly during an “entering the villain’s lair” sequence to my ears, and the whole thing sounds lovely.

Most importantly, it’s got a fist shaped space station, a comedy-accented robot, a mechanical giant with tits, and a lightsaber-wielding android tackling two bionic swordsmen. Get in touch with your inner 9 year old, load him up on cheap orangeade, and enjoy.

Float through the stars with us on Monday the 7th at the Mucky Pup More info here

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