(scene from The Humanoid)
Recently sci-fi pop culture blog io9.com gave their 2 cents about a lesser-known spaghetti space opera The Humanoid:
It stars Richard Kiel (“Jaws” from the James Bond movies) as a super-soldier — who decapitates like eight guys by throwing one pylon in this clip. It also has some of the best Darth Vader dialog ever, a robot dog named Robodog, a psychic Jedi-child, and an evil queen who has to absorb the juices of one topless young fashion model every day to stay young. The directors of Star Crash and The Humanoid had an undying rivalry, that endured 23 years later, when one of them was working in a gift shop.
Of course, The Humanoid is only one of many cheap ripoffs and campy homages to Star Wars that have a special charm all their own. Whether it’s the Hoff showing off in Starcrash or Roger Corman’s B-grade epic Battle Beyond the Stars, there’s plenty of Star Wars schlock to choose from. Though these not-so-celebrated films may have tanked at the box office on release or were mercilessly heckled by fickle fans, they still have a place in our hearts — misplaced ninjas, gassy aliens, cruddy sword-fights and all.
Here’s our list of The Best of the Worst Star Wars Wannabes:
(Dorothy Stratten as Galaxina)
Probably most remembered for its poster — a curvy, scantily-clad female android — Galaxina starred Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten, who was sadly murdered shortly after the movie’s release. It’s hard to tell if Galaxina is supposed to be a comedy or if it’s so bad that it’s funny. Men wearing ascots and campy space bordellos can be slightly snicker-worthy. And the fact that one of the main character’s names is Capt. Cornelius Butt is hilarious… if you’re 10. The weak plot consists of a sexy, lonely female android “with feelings” who falls in love with the ship’s captain as they are in search of Blue Star. There aren’t quite as many Star Wars references unless you replace Jawas with bikers, and C-3PO with a hot woman, and Jedi robes with Spandex, and swap out ILM’s signature moves with a few Ed Wood-esque special effects.
One of the more obvious examples of coasting through the wake of Star Wars‘ success, Starcrash is now dubiously known as “the one with David Hasselhoff in it.” Star Wars similarities are abundant, from wisecracking robots to laser swords. The Emperor of this galaxy isn’t a hooded Sith, but rather a benign man — and incredibly disinterested one judging from Christopher Plummer’s performance. What held many a young male viewer’s attention rapt are the skimpy outfits worn by lead character Stella Star (Caroline Munro). The movie even includes an unabashed Amazonian prison fight, but it never strays beyond PG material.
You’ve got to give Krull some credit: it really invested time and effort into creating its own unique world. The planet Krull is the setting, and the film starts off with the hero Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall) about to marry Princess Lyssa (okay, that name does sound a bit familiar). All heck breaks loose when the evil Beast lands his mountain-like ship on Krull and kidnaps the Princess. Sure, there are some similarities, but mostly because both Krull and Star Wars play off the same ancient template of young hero being called to action with a wise mentor offering him a unique gift, and so on. This movie’s lightsaber is a funky flying asterisk called the Glaive.
The Ice Pirates
Robert Urich as a space pirate? Sign us up! Long before he was the smooth-talking, ladies man detective for hire (remember “Spenser: For Hire?”), he was doing his best Han Solo impression in the 1984 comedy/sci-fi flick Ice Pirates. More of a Mad Max rip-off than Star Wars (though they did have sword fights and blaster-like guns), Ice Pirates lives up to its tagline — “You have to be there to see it.” Well, duh. Director Stewart Raffill — who also brought us such hits as Mannequin: On the Move and Tammy and the T-Rex — starts the movie with a princess (played by “Dallas” soap star Mary Crosby) saving the space pirates Jason (Urich) and Roscoe (Michael D. Roberts AKA Rooster on the hit show “Baretta”) before they end up as spandex-clad eunuchs (seriously, you have to be there to see it).
Dünyay Kurtaran Adam
(The Man Who Saves the World AKA Turkish Star Wars)
“Lost in the translation” probably best describes this Turkish mashup of Star Wars. Released in 1982, the film uses actual bootleg clips from Star Wars, as well as a myriad of newsreel clips of Soviet and American space rocket footage, and a soundtrack of lifted music from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Moonraker and Planet of the Apes.
Battle Beyond the Stars
The king of cult classic B-films Roger Corman, who brought us such low-rent faves as Attack of the Crab Monsters, A Bucket of Blood, The Wasp Woman and the psychedelic freak-out The Trip, must have loved Akira Kurosawa’s film Seven Samurai as much as George Lucas and it shows. But don’t expect impressive special effects and an epic storyline — this is Corman, after all. In Battle Beyond the Stars, released in 1980, we see a young George Peppard (“A-Team”) and Robert Vaughn (“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”) play roles in some cases mirroring those in The Magnificent Seven, where it’s up to a band of misfit mercenaries to protect a colony of peaceful farmers from an evil overlord. Sound familiar?
Be sure to check out our complete reviews of our favorite Star Wars-inspired films here:
The Star Wars Effect: Schlock Wars
(Insider Online Supplement #94 — Hyperspace membership required)
The Star Wars Effect: Schlock Wars, Part Deux
(Insider Online Supplement #95 — Hyperspace membership required)