December 25, 2012 at 12:31 am (7 Heads, Starcrash) (, , , , , , )

Starcrash – 1978 – Italy/United States

Sexy outlaw Stella Star teams up with a green-skinned alien, an enigmatic psychic, and a hillbilly robot, on a mission to destroy the evil Count’s doomsday gun. Along the way, the motley crew encounters troglodytes, flying cities, sword-fighting robots, time-stopping ray guns, and other zappy weirdness.

Unsurprisingly, Starcrash borrows liberally from Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (1977). There is hyperspace travel, a galactic empire, and lightsabers. Its soundtrack takes phrases from John Williams, and some of the sound effects, dialogue, and scenes seem suspiciously familiar. Starcrash’s heroine even speaks a bit like Princess Leia. But what can you expect from an Italian flick distributed by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures? At least its creators were self-aware, evidenced by Starcrash’s first scene where a massive spaceship glides past the camera, mimicking A New Hope’s iconic opening.

Starcrash is most interesting when it diverges from its inspiration. The glitzy sexy costumes draw as much from Barbarella (1968) as A New Hope, and the abundant colorful effects create a hallucinogenic atmosphere. Plus, there are lots of strange and cool details. A tribe of amazons builds a skyscraper-sized nude lady robot. Spaceships are boarded as soldier-filled torpedoes are fired through their hulls. And my favorite scene features a mysterious warrior who shoots lasers from the eyes of a high-tech mask.

Starcrash is dumb and derivative, yet charming. Too often Italian space opera of this era is cheap and boring. For example, see the lousy Cosmos: War of the Planets (1977) and War of the Robots (1978). Starcrash overcomes its creative shortcomings with irrepressible energy.

Rating: 7/10 Shrunken Heads. Princess Leia could benefit from Stella Star’s fashion sense.


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