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Star Crash
Scontri Stellari oltre la terza Dimensione / Adventures of Stella Star / Starcrash / Female Space Invaders

Italy 1979
produced by
Nat Wachsberger, Patrick Wachsberger
directed by Lewis Coates (= Luigi Cozzi)
starring Caroline Munro, Marjoe Gortner, Joe Spinell, Christopher Plummer, David Hasselhoff, Robert Tessier, Nadia Cassini, Judd Hamilton
written by Lewis Coates (= Luigi Cozzi), Nat Wachsberger, music by John Barry, special effects by Germano Natali, Armando Valcauda, visual effects by Ron Hays, models built by Paolo Zeccara

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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To save the universe from the rule of evil Count Zart Arn (Joe Spinell), the benevolent Emperor (Christopher Plummer) sends out 2 smugglers, Stella Star (Caroline Munro) & Akton (Marjoe Gortner), the best space-pilot-&-navigator-team in the universe, along with his officer Thor (Robert Tessier) & police robot L to find Zart Arn's ultimate weapon, the doom machine.

A trail leads to the Haunted Star System, where the emperor has already lost a scout shilp, of which 3 escape shuttles have made it to nearby planets.

On the first planet they investigate, Stella & L are captured by the Amazons of Queen Corelia (Nadia Cassini), & after they manage to escape, they are attacked by her giant sword wielding female robot, which can only be stopped by the timely intervention of Akton, piloting their spaceship against the robot & bringing it down.

After an outer space battle against some of Zart Arn's guardships, our heroes find the second shuttle on an ice planet, but while Stella & L go onto the surface to investigate, Akton is overcome by Thor, who turns out to be one of Zart Arn's spies, & he shuts Stella & L out of the spaceship, letting them freeze to death slowly on the planet's surface - that is, if it wasn't for L, who has some powers to keep Stella in suspended animation & thus keep her from being frozen alive. UInside the ship meanwhile Akton, who was thought dead by Thor, comes back to life miraculously & can defeat Thor. As it turns out, Akton can see into the future & was thus prepared for Thor's attack.

On their way to collet the third shuttle, Stella & company are attacked by the Doom Machine itself ... & survive. Turns out the Doom Machine can create monsters in one's mind that would drive a normal human crazy - but, as Akton points out, "we are no normal humans !"

At the wrecking site of the 3rd shuttle, Stella & L are attacked by a tribe of cavemen, who finally destroy L & put Stella into bondage - until she is saved by a monster shooting laserbeams from its eyes, which turns out  to be, of all people, the emperor's son Simon (played by, of all people, David Hasselhoff). The cavemen though soon catch up with them , but luckily Akton arrives with his lightsaber & wards them off.

Soon the 3 of them find a cave where the actual Doom M achine is hidden - but it's unfortunate that this was exactly what Zart Arn has wanted, he has set a trap for the 3 of them & even got a message to the Emperor so he could join the party - for the Doom Machine to go off & destroy them all ...

& to keep our trio of heroes at the center of the blast, Zart Arn has his robots, the Golems, guarding them. Valiantly, Stella, Akton & Simon fight the Golems & defeat them, even though Akton has to give his life, but it might all be in vain, as the emperor arrives when it's just 48 seconds to the blast - to short to escape ...

Fortunately though the emperor's powers include to halt time for a limited amount of ... well time, so they manage to make a narrow escape after all. The emperor then hurls his whole fleet against Zart Arn's flagship to halt him, but to no avail, since Zart Arn proves to be too powerful.

There's only one way to stop the villain now: to pilot the Floating City, pride of the Emperor's empire, against Zart Arn's flagship, to ram & annihilate it (but at the loss of the city), & there's only one pilot to do it ... Stella Star, who is joined by the newly repaired robot L ... need I say it, good triumphs in the end.

 

Because of the very similar title, Star Crash was always ridiculed as a low-budget rip-off of the then popular but utterly unremarkable Star Wars - which is highly unfair, as Luigi Cozzi, an expert on fantastic cinema in his own right, has taken no idea (with the possible exception of light sabers) from Star Wars itself (which would be hard, as Star Wars is remarkably devoid of original ideas in the first place), instead looked for inspiration for his movie in similar sources - that being serials of the 30's & 40's, most prominently the Flash Gordon-serials or Phantom Empire, special effects movies like Seventh Voyage of Sindbad or Jason and the Argonauts, of course Barbarella & the Doctor Who-tv-series. Whereas though George Lucas tried desperately to obscure the humble origins of his film (but failed miserably), Luigi Cozzi pays loving homage to them.

Of course, as ever so often with Italian sci-fi films, the budget was way too low to allow the special effects extravaganza the script would demand - the budget was only a small fraction of that of Star Wars (the original, not the even worse souped up version) -, so occasionally, just like in the movies that inspired Star Crash, very imaginative, inventive methods were used for weird & wonderful effects, from oddly coloured shots of smoke to kitchen appliances to Fisher Price-toys posing as futuritsic apparatus, with the universe looking sometimes like a giant collection of differently coloured Christmas tree balls in front of a black background.

Of course, you can hate this film for these shortcomings, or, as I do, love it for its attempts to overcome them, for its nostalgic nonsense script, cheesy sets & costumes - &, in all honesty, Caroline Munro in mostly very brief outfits is a sight for sore eyes !

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD