1980, Movies

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

If you’re looking for a Roger Corman Star Wars ripoff starring Johnboy Walton, with effects by James Cameron and a story by John Sayles…well, you’ve found it.

I was looking for a cheesy ’80s sci fi film and did I ever find it. This film has everything I want in one of these movies: multiple humanoid races, all sorts of different ships for those races, Robert Vaughn! George Peppard! Johnboy Walton! terrible laser weapons, and special effects that are better than they should be.

This is a super cheesy ripoff of Star Wars with actors that don’t deserve to be in a Roger Corman movie. As people noted at the time, the effects are better than you would imagine, and that is apparently due to a young James Cameron.

The storyline is typical and dumb: the young scion of a peaceful planet has to go off and hire a bunch of mercenaries to defend that planet from an aggrandizing asshole. (Never encountered that storyline before, ever.)

But this definitely satisfies the “bad ’80s sci fi” cravings. There’s kooky set design, bizarre but not alien enough races, the random cowboy, the random crystals, and so on. It’s just a classic. One of those movies that satisfies my craving for a certain kind of aesthetic and a certain lack of concern about story and motivation and the like.

Anyway, I wish I could be more articulate. It’s just one of those movies that fills me with delight as I laugh at it. There’s a certain type of film that just really appeals to me in its awfulness, and this is one of those films. I guess it’s one of those things where you have feelings about stuff that recalls an era you associate with childhood. Of course, I wasn’t alive when this movie was released, but it still feels very much of a certain ilk.

4/10 because of Johnyboy, Robert fucking Vaughn and George fucking Peppard (and crystals). I love it when a bad sci fi plot comes together.

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