Monday, June 1, 2009

Battle Beyond the Stars (1980, Jimmy T. Murakami)

Battle Beyond the Stars is a film I never should have heard of. I was watching the old Corman Classics DVD of Rock N' Roll High School because I am a huge Ramones fan and for some strange reason (and I never do this) decided to watch the trailers on the disc. I hate trailers and skip them at every chance I get (though I'll admit that there is some charm to trailers on an old VHS tape). Even when I go to the theater, I show up late to miss the previews. Anyway, I don't remember how many trailers there were or what the other ones were, but one of them really stood out. See I used to like Sci Fi films as a kid and even still enjoy them every once in awhile. I don't really believe in signs but I feel that some other-worldly force may have been responsible for me seeing that trailer. Regardless, it was an important moment in my life, exposing me to more films that I probably would never have seen or had any interest in (The Black Hole, Battlestar Galactica, Logan's Run, etc) and urged me to go back and revisit some classics (The Last Starfighter and Close Encounters of the Third Kind). Coincidentally, this film was released in West Germany on the day I was born. Hows that for coincidence?

Battle Beyond the Stars is the story of Shad (Richard Thomas), a young inhabitant of the planet Akir. Shad must travel across the galaxy to recruit mercenaries to fight the evil space ruler, Sador (John Saxon), who has threatened the people of Akir. Among those that Shad recruits are Cowboy (George Peppard) - a space cowboy of course, Gelt (Robert Vaughn) - a wanted man with nothing to live for, Saint-Exmin (Sybil Danning), an Amazonian Valkyrie, among others.

The plot for Battle Beyond the Stars may sound familiar, mainly because it is a remake of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (which also inspired the Magnificent Seven). In fact, Robert Vaughn's character in this film is nearly identical to the character he played in Magnificent Seven. The planet Akir and its townspeople, the Akira, are obviously named after Akira Kurosawa. Other than that, this film is quite original, from its far out alien creatures to its colorful cast of characters. Producer Roger Corman has said that this was his attempt to make a Star Wars type film and there are some similarities to that film as well (the spaceships particularly), though it is still very much its own entity. I don't think George Lucas would make a spaceship with boobs. Roger Corman on the other hand....Overall, I'll admit that this film is flawed, silly, a little stupid and ridiculous at points. Plus the special effects are ok but not great and some of the makeup/costumes are laughable. But it was my destiny to praise this film and praise I will. I feel connected to this film like none other, like it's a part of me or something. It's flaws and silliness make it the perfect little film that it is.



  1. Don't you love it when movies just fall into your lap like little gifts from heaven? I feel that way about many battered-VHS classics starring Linda Blair, you've seen 'em you don't know how you lived without 'em.

    I'll look for this one!

  2. Tower Farm - Which Linda Blair films are you referring to, out of curiousity? I stumbled upon Hell Night recently, not expecting much and now it is one of my favorite movies. Savage Streets (my first review!) is another good one. I have Wes Craven's Summer of Fear but have yet to watch it.

  3. Nice personal review.

    Don't think I'll ever share the passion for films along the lines of which it was expressed in your first paragraph. But just the same's a worthy reminder that I need to see this film again.

    Excellent sounds effects, cast and a story one can get completely lost in. All good signs ...

  4. Classic! I loved this as a little kid before I understood what a b-movie really was.

  5. Saw this one when I was a kid, but havent had the chance to watch it now as an adult...I need to get my hands on it!

    I saw another film from a similar era (the 80s) called Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, if you havent seen it, I recommend it!