What a privilege and honor it is to share with you my thoughts on this Corman classic. Why, you may ask? Because it was this movie... this little slice of stinky Limberger is what started it all for me. After watching this for the umpteenth time, I though, “perhaps someone should warn others that they should see this cinematic tragedy!”
Thus, the Schlock Locker was born!
When I first saw this movie in the theaters when I was 10, I loved it! But then again, I was 10 and also thought that Scrappy Doo was the shit so what did I know? This movie has been billed as the “good Roger Corman movie.” Cripes, is that a back-handed compliment or what? To be fair, its one of those B movies I love to watch, own it in several formats, and own an original vintage movie poster. “Vintage” being defined here as 33 years old.
So, strap on your warrior woman space-gear and warm up the Stellar Converter, because here we go! This movie stars John-boy Walton, Hannibal from the A team, and Sybil Danning's tits!
Warping its way out of The Locker today is “Cheap Star Wars”, starring a veritable cornucopia of stars: Richard Thomas as John-boy Shad, George Peppard as a drunken “Cowboy”, a mopey Robert Vaughn covered in gold foil as Gelt, Sybil Danning's boobs as Exmin, and John Saxon's sneer as Sador, the really bad guy! Shad, from the hippie planet of Akir, is faced with a dilema when Sador of the Malmori shows up to take over the planet. Sador claims the planet of Kansas for himself because, LET ME TELL YOU, nothing says “fear” like John Saxon's floating head. Shad, whose planet is all about non-violence, gets in his family's ship, the voluptuous “Nell” and leaves to go find people to defend them from this galactic scourge.
Shad finds different groups of people to help. His first recruit is a friend of a friend (and Shad's current footsie partner), a human female Nanelia. She is living on a space station with the head of her father. NOT CREEPY AT ALL! After barely escaping having to have sex with her, he trips up on Space Cowboy, who is under attack by space pirates. He and Nell repel the marauders and SURPRISE, Space Cowboy is so grateful that he gives the people of Akir his shipment of GUNS! Once that plot point is settled, Shad runs into 5 clones called Nestor in a huge white ship that had JUST left the set of Battlestar Galactica. Shad then goes to the Las Vegas planet and finds Gelt squirreled away and offers him peace and a good meal for his services as a mercenary to defend Akir. Next, he engages in psycho-sexual banter with the busty and virile Saint Exmin of the Valkyrie warriors, who wants to fight him to prove herself a warrior. Personally, I think she just wanted to take on the ship because Nell had bigger boobs than she did! Meanwhile, in another part of the movie not far away, Nanelia gets captured by a slaver named Cayman and his band of misfits but she entices Cayman and his ragtag bunch of rejects to fight for Akir. Cayman price: he wants Sador's head because Sador killed his Lizard-people. All converge on Akir to defend it from Sador.
People of Akir... HEAR ME! Unless you want to see any other parts of my body floating above your fair lands.. SURRENDER!
A man with a chair like that can defend my planet from an evil galactic despot any day!
A man who can dispense alcoholic beverages from his crotch can defend my planet from an evil galactic despot any day!
So, this bunch of yahoos from the shallow end of the gene pool come together and are going to fight off the most fearsome power in the universe? Are you kidding me? I wouldn't trust this group of wigwags to wash the dog! And what is this about Sador being the most feared dude in the galaxy? That's like being the smartest goof on the short bus! Its hard to blame him, really, because you are only as good as your hired help. These Malmori are about as smart as you would expect a group of space-mutants to be. I mean, they can't follow the simplest instruction without poking out one of their own eyes and pissing themselves. No wonder John Saxon had a nervous tick throughout the movie. If I had this carnival of ineptitude to deal with every day, I'd throw MYSELF into the Stellar Converter..which is his feared weapon of doom! To be honest though, it DOES seem to be a weapon to be feared! Near the beginning of the movie, he turned an entire planet into glitter with the damn thing! So, you understand (or wonder) how a group of misbegotten fugitives, renegades, pacifists, clones, and a warrior woman's boobs could defeat the “scourge of the galaxy”, Sador. Personally, I have the distinct feeling that some cleverly place belly-button lint, a book of matches, and a hard-boiled egg could defeat this idiot!
A ship with boobs like this can defend my ... oh, you get the picture!
And believe me... the SHIP has BOOBS! Cripes, it needs space-pasties for crying out loud!
So, with Roger Corman at the helm, Cheap Star Wars did well at the box office, riding high on the coattails of Expensive, “actual” Star Wars and cashing in! Of note, James Horner, of which I am a fan, did the music and it is not bad. This was also Corman's most expensive film at the time. Though most of the budget went to pay for George Peppard and Robert Vaughn. Check out IMDB for more fun facts and how this movie ties into the general plot of The Magnificent Seven.
I enjoy riffing this one. It is truly one of my favorites and I assure you, there is NO lack of fuel for the riffing bonfire! The plot was pretty much a rip off of Star Wars and much of the dialogue makes you wonder if Tolkien wrote it. It is, however, difficult..almost painful to be critical of it. Actually, I thought some of the acting wasn't half bad. Some of the fare from Richard Thomas was sub par but being Jon-boy Walton, we expected no less. The TRUE stars of this film come in pairs, and Nell the ship and Sybil Danning's got 'em! CLEARLY, Corman went through a “boob” phase. But hey, what better way to get the attention of young men? Responsible for some of those special effects and props: James Cameron! So, in not wanting to be too hard on this flick, I give it a pass on a lot. Many of the models, effects, sounds, and the entire soundtrack have been re-used in other Corman productions. It made a decent profit and even though it was kinda cool/kinda cheezy at the time, strides in cinematography and special effects have relegated Battle Beyond the Stars to a starring role in the Schlock Locker.
Click on the IMDb icon for more information on "Battle Beyond the Stars"
Sybil Danning's boobs are shown so prominently and so often they should have their own place in the credits!
Why do I call it “Cheap Star Wars?” Follow me on this:
Battle Beyond the Stars
A simple farmer..
..on a remote planet..
..goes on a quest to gather allies..
..to defeat a galactic overlord..
..who has an army..
..and a doomsday weapon..
..that destroys planets!