Thursday, July 26, 2012

Starcrash (1978)

Starcrash (1978) - Movie review plus screencaps:
"Starcrash!"  a.k.a.  "The Clash of the Stars!"  a.k.a.  "Stellar Clashes Beyond the Third Dimension!"  a.k.a. "The Adventures of Stella Star!"
 Spoilers, I guess...

This Italian Star Wars knock-off from 1978 fails on every level.  Wooden acting.  Hideous costumes.  Fake plastic spaceships.  Out of focus special effects.  Nonsensical plot twists.  Oh, and one of the stars is David Hasselhoff.  Needless to say, it's FANTASTIC!

Smooth Characters
 The movie stars Caroline Munro modeling her exciting space bikini as criminal-slash-adventurer Stella Star.  She's sort of a female Han Solo.  It also stars Marjoe Gortner as Akton, a white guy with a giant space afro who fights with a fake lightsaber and gains various super powers throughout the movie.  He's like a cross between Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Other characters include a robot sidekick with a cartoonish Texas accent and a bald guy with green skin.
"Damn, I'm Evil!"
The villain of the flick is Count Zarth Arn who is constantly laughing maniacally while flapping his Dracula cape around.  So evil.  Oh, and I can't forget Hasselhoff; he's basically Princess Leia, although he wears a lot more makeup than I ever saw on Carrie Fisher.

Hoff's Going Heavy on the Makeup
Christopher Plummer is the only person in the film who can act, which makes him stick out like a sore thumb.  He plays Hasselhoff's dad, "The Emperor of the Galaxy." He delivers all his lines like he's in Hamlet or something, with dramatic, William Shatner-like pauses.  The effect is bizarre... like he doesn't realize what movie he's in.  He also has the best line in the movie, when seconds before our heroes are about to die in an explosion, he gazes up at the ceiling and shouts, "Imperial battleship...  halt... the flow of time!"  And then time stops so our heroes can escape, with no explanation ever given for how this amazing feat was accomplished.  Awesome.

Christopher Plummer Doesn't Know What Movie He's In
The plot is a lot of silly nonsense, with Stella Star and her intrepid band of space buddies travelling around in their spaceship getting into adventures while trying to save the universe from the evil Count Zarth.  So the film is broken up into various episodes where we see Stella fight Space Cavemen, Space Amazons, a giant space robot, and what not.
Pressing Buttons
Later, the good guys attack the Count's version of the Death Star, which,  is shaped like a giant flying space hand.  Oh, and when it goes into combat, the giant space hand contracts into a fist!  Awesome!  Anyway, they attack the ship by shooting giant golden dildos at it.  Once the dildos crash through the windows of the spaceship, they pop open and soldiers jump out.

Pew! Pew! Pew!
The movie's costumes and sets are ridiculously colorful and goofy.  It looks more like it was made in 1968 than '78, it has the same pop art sensibillity as films like Barbarella, Diabolik, or the Adam West Batman TV series.

Captured by Space Amazons
This movie is DUMB, but it is fun.  And Caroline Munro does look pretty sexy in her space bikini.  I recommend this title to all discerning fans of science fiction cinema.

Rating: 3½ Robots (out of 5)

I See You!
More screencaps after the jump...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Death Watch (1980)

Death Watch (1980) - Movie review plus screencaps

"La Mort En Direct"

I came into this film cold, knowing only that it was a sci-fi movie from the 1980s, starring Harvey Keitel and Harry Dean Stanton, and with the potentially gory title of "Death Watch."  I was anticipating something a little outrageous and trashy, but hopefully kind of awesome at the same time.  Maybe some robots or cyborgs, a few laser beams.  Instead, what I got was a long, talky, meditative look at life, death, and the coarsening of our culture at the beginning of the age of reality TV.

Groovy Cemetery

Not at a bad movie, just not at all what I expected, even though it started to drag quite a bit towards the end, with one long dialogue scene piling up on top of another.  There were a few moments towards the end where I had to resist the urge to fast forward.

Harry Dean Stanton Directs the Action

The film is set in the "not to distant future,"  one of those sci-fi movies where everything looks like the modern day, with just a few bits of technology here and there to indicate it's not.  While that may have worked fine when the film was released, it causes a weird dissonance when watching it today, as everything looks dated in a late '70s early '80s kind of way, and not at all futuristic.  I think sci-fi from the '50s and '60s, where everyone's decked out in colorful jumpsuits, or what not, actually hold up better in this respect; at least they look noticeably different from the present or the past.

Cemetery and Smokestacks

In the film, Harvey Keitel plays a photographer who has video cameras implanted in his eyes, so that everything he sees is recorded.  He is assigned to follow around a dying woman, played by Romy Schneider, for a reality TV show called "Death Watch."   The show chronicles the last days of a dying person's life in a future where death from natural causes is a novelty.
Harvey Keitel has TV Eyes

The issues raised about reality TV, and our increasing lack of privacy in the modern world seem a little cliched to my modern eyes, but I may be being too critical; since the film was released in 1980, I suppose the film was actually pretty prescient.

A Tender Passion

The cast was quite good, with Harvey Keitel, Harry Dean Stanton, Romy Schneider, and, towards the end of the film, Max von Sydow, all giving solid performances.  There was also some very nicely composed cinematography.  However, the slow, talky nature of the film, especially in the second half of the movie, lowered my enjoyment enough that I don't think I can actually recommend it.

Rating: 3 Robots (out of 5)

Harvey Keitel and Romy Schneider on the Beach

More screencaps after the jump...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

On the left of this image is the American Quarter, with an image of the first American President, George Washington. On the right is the Canadian Quarter, with an image of the first Canadian Prime Minister, Bullwinkle J. Moose. Thank Zeus I live in a country that elects humans to office, and not talking animals! Long live America!