Theatrical poster by John Solie
|Directed by||Luigi Cozzi|
|Produced by||Nat Wachsberger
|Written by||Luigi Cozzi|
|Music by||John Barry|
Roberto D'Ettorre Piazzoli
|Editing by||Sergio Montanari|
|Distributed by||New World Pictures (USA)|
|Release dates||March 9, 1979|
|Running time||94 min.|
|Language||English / Italian|
Starcrash (original Italian title Scontri stellari oltre la terza dimensione, literally "stellar clashes beyond the third dimension") is an Italian 1978 science fiction film, which was also released under the English title of The Adventures of Stella Star (in the US). The screenplay was written by Luigi Cozzi (pen name Lewis Coates) and Nat Wachsberger, and Cozzi also directed the film. The cast included Marjoe Gortner, Caroline Munro, Judd Hamilton, Christopher Plummer, David Hasselhoff, Joe Spinell and Robert Tessier The original music score was by Oscar winning composer John Barry (Midnight Cowboy, Goldfinger, Somewhere in Time, Dances with Wolves).
It was filmed in Technicolor with Dolby sound, and has a runtime of 94 minutes. The US release is 92 minutes, and received an MPAA rating of PG. The film is generally regarded by critics as a campy Z movie with cheap special effects and a weak, derivative plot that some people find unintentionally humorous. It appeared a year after the original Star Wars and tried to re-mix the same elements, but without much success. It has been compared to Plan 9 from Outer Space.
In 2004, nationally syndicated television series Cinema Insomnia released a DVD version hosted by Mr. Lobo. The film was later picked up by Shout! Factory, who released it on DVD and Blu-ray in 2010 as part of the "Roger Corman's Cult Classics" series.
In a distant galaxy, a starship searches for the evil Count Zarth Arn. Closing in on a planet, the ship is attacked by a mysterious weapon (a red blobby field) which drives the crew insane. Three escape pods launch during the attack, but the ship crashes into the atmosphere of the planet and is destroyed.
Meanwhile, outlaw smuggler Stella Star and her sidekick Akton run into the Imperial Space Police, led by robot sheriff Elle. Akton and Stella escape by jumping into hyperspace. When they emerge, they discover an escape pod from the attacked starship, and in it, a sole survivor. Before they can escape, they are apprehended by the police, who tracked their hyperspace trail.
Tried, convicted and found guilty of piracy, they are each sentenced to life in prison. When a riot breaks out at Stella's prison, she uses the diversion to escape the prison, which explodes shortly afterwards. Police Chief Thor recaptures her and she is taken to an orbiting ship, where she is reunited with Akton. They are contacted holographically by the Emperor of the Galaxy, who thanks them for recovering the starship survivor. They are offered clemency if they help find three more missing escape pods, one of which may contain the Emperor's only son.
The Emperor is in a feud with Count Zarth Arn, who has a secret weapon hidden away on a planet somewhere. The weapon has immense power, and he can use it to take over the galaxy. With Chief Thor and Elle accompanying them, the Emperor orders Stella and Akton to find the Count's weapon, and find and rescue his son. They set off on their quest.
They have a long way to travel, but Stella excitedly notes that hyperspace can make a journey that would've taken two weeks take only two hours. They quickly arrive at the location Akton computes for the first escape pod.
Stella and Elle take a shuttle from the spaceship and land near the pod on a sandy, rocky beach. Stella meets an amazonian warrior tribe and is escorted to their underground fortress. On arrival, Elle is ambushed, shot and left for dead, and Stella is taken captive. Stella is taken before Corelia, Queen of the Amazons, who is in league with Zarth Arn. Elle doesn't die and he makes his way to the throne room of Corelia, Queen of the Amazons, taking her hostage to secure Stella's release. They escape, but the queen mentally activates a giant female robot which chases them. Things look dire until the pair are rescued by Akton and Thor, in the spaceship.
On a frozen planet, Stella and Elle investigate the second escape pod crash site, but find no survivors. Upon their return to the ship, Thor, who has ambushed and apparently knocked out Akton, reveals that he is an agent of Zarth Arn, and will shortly join him as his Prince of Darkness. Thor traps Stella and Elle outside on this planet where the temperature drops "thousands of degrees" at night, where he knows they will freeze to death. Elle and Stella lie down to freeze, and Elle takes Stella's hand so he can keep her heart going in "suspended animation". Akton revives himself and battles Thor. Thor gains the upper hand and tries to crush Akton, but Akton's powers suddenly escalate, and he repels Thor's attack and absorbs blaster fire seemingly without effort, to Thor's considerable disbelief. Akton reflects Thor's final laser shots back towards him with his hand, killing him. But the sun has already set, and the planet's surface is frozen solid. Akton brings Elle and frozen Stella back onto the ship, where he uses his powers to thaw her out.
On the planet of the third escape pod, they are attacked by barbarian tribesmen who smash Elle to pieces and abduct Stella. She escapes and flees to a nearby cave where she is attacked by more tribesmen, but a man in a golden mask arrives, firing lasers through his eyes, and rescues her. He is revealed to be the Emperor's son, Simon. Akton arrives and starts a laser sword duel with Simon, unaware of his identity. Simon proves his relation to the Emperor and the trio set off to find the Count's secret weapon.
Arriving at an underground laboratory, the three are captured by the guards. The Count reveals his plan to use them as bait to bring the Emperor to the planet, and then have his weapon self-destruct, destroying the planet, the Emperor, and all of them. He leaves them, departing to conquer the Emperor's homeworld. As the Count leaves he orders his two robot golems to keep the group there. Akton engages them in a duel, and the trio eventually defeat the robots, but Akton is mortally wounded. He says goodbye, and vanishes in a plume of electrical fuzz. The Emperor arrives at the planet. He is aware that the whole thing is mined with nuclear bombs as a trap, and they're out of time. He quips that one doesn't get to be Emperor without getting some perks, and uses a green ray from his flagship to "stop time" for three minutes, giving them all enough time to escape. The flagship pulls away as the planet explodes behind it.
Stella stands with the Emperor on his flagship, as a huge battle commences between his armada and the Count's space station. The Count also attacks the Emperor's homeworld, but the attack is a failure. The Emperor's soldiers storm the space station, but after a pitched battle are stopped short by the Count's reinforcements.
With no option left, the Emperor decides to ram his flagship into the Count's space station, destroying them both. But Elle has been salvaged and rebuilt by the Emperor's men, and Stella and Elle volunteer to fly to an evacuated space station, the Floating City, and to fly it into the Count's station and destroy it. They fly the city towards the space station, and manage to escape together just as their station crashes into the Count's, finally winning the war.
Stella and Elle are picked up the Emperor's son Simon. He is happy Stella survived and asks her to marry him.
- Caroline Munro - Stella Star: a young and sensual woman smuggler, who is supposedly the best astro-pilot in the whole universe. She and her companion Akton end up helping the Emperor after a short prison sentence.
- Marjoe Gortner - Akton: Stella's loyal sidekick, human in appearance but also endowed with considerable mystical powers (including the power to restore people to life); nothing is truly explained about his nature or his origins; he fights with a laser sword similar to a Star Wars lightsaber.
- Judd Hamilton - Elle: A powerful robot policeman endowed with emotions, who ends up helping Stella and Akton. Apparently destroyed by cavemen on the third planet, he comes back later after being repaired by the Emperor's men.
- David Hasselhoff - Simon: the Emperor's only son, only survivor of Zarth Arn's assault on his ship.
- Christopher Plummer - The Emperor: The known universe's benevolent, wise ruler, whose only son has disappeared after an encounter with the space forces of evil Count Zarth Arn.
- Joe Spinell - Count Zarth Arn: a megalomaniac renegade, who is bent on dethroning the Emperor and proclaiming himself supreme ruler of the universe.
- Robert Tessier - Thor: Chief of the Imperial State Police, and Elle's superior. Turns out to be a traitor working for Zarth Arn. Knocks out Atkon on the second planet, believing him dead, but is then killed by Atkon who is able to deflect laser blasts with his hands.
- Nadia Cassini - Corelia: Queen of the Amazon women on the first planet that Stella and her crew visit. She is an ally of Count Zarth Arn.
The score for Starcrash was composed and conducted by veteran composer John Barry. The soundtrack was given a limited release of 1,500 copies through BSX Records in December 2008 and features fourteen tracks of score.
- "Starcrash Main Title" (2:36)
- "Escape Into Hyperspace" (1:49)
- "Captured" (2:09)
- "Launch Adrift" (1:42)
- "Beach Landing" (2:09)
- "The Ice Planet/Heading for Zarkon" (3:03)
- "The Emperor's Speech" (3:17)
- "Strange Planet/The Troggs Attack" (2:37)
- "Akton Battles the Robots" (2:18)
- "Network Ball Attack" (1:00)
- "Space War" (4:40)
- "Goodbye Akton" (3:34)
- "Starcrash End Title" (2:57)
- "Starcrash Suite" (7:14)
Shooting took over six months and was frequently brought to a halt due to financing problems. The film was originally made for American International Pictures but after seeing the final cut they declined to release it. New World Pictures stepped in instead.
Christopher Plummer said of Starcrash: "[G]ive me Rome any day. I'll do porno in Rome, as long as I can get to Rome. Getting to Rome was the greatest thing that happened in that for me. I think it was only about three days in Rome on that one. It was all shot at once." Of his role, he said: "[H]ow can you play the Emperor Of The Universe? What a wonderful part to play. It puts God in a very dicey moment, doesn't it? He's very insecure, God, when the Emperor’s around."
In DVD Delirium, the reviewer panned the film calling the plot, "something akin to something written by excitable primary school kids than adults". The film, "uses every trick in the special effects book ... and bungles the lot of them hopelessly. It also rips chunks off Star Wars", as well as showing "'evidence' of inspiration" from Barbarella, Invaders from Mars and Jason and the Argonauts. The reviewer concludes that, this film "is one of those movies that shovels on the ineptitude with such verve that it does achieve a 'must see' sinful pleasure status."
Kurt Dahlke of DVD Talk said, "Starcrash is a masterpiece of unintentionally bad filmmaking. Pounded out in about 18 months seemingly as an answer to Star Wars, Luigi Cozzi's knock-off buzzes around with giddy brio, mixing ridiculous characters with questionably broad acting, an incredibly simple yet still nonsensical plot, and budget special effects that transcend into the realm of real art. It's a completely ridiculous movie, that's great to watch with a few friends and a beer or two. And it still manages to make my jaw drop."
R.L. Shaffer of IGN gave the film an extremely positive review, rating it a 10/10, and calling it "The single greatest sci-fi camp fest ever put on celluloid" and saying its in league with cult classics like Troll 2, Riki-Oh and The Room.
J.C. Maçek III of WorldsGreatestCritic.com wrote, "If Starcrash had a much bigger budget, a better script and fresh ideas that weren't mined from other, vastly superior franchises... it would still suck. That's right, folks, it has to aspire to suck."
In his article "Top 10 Reasons Why Star Crash is Better Than Star Wars", Bobby Morgan of EuroCultAV wrote about Cozzi's film, "To call it a rip-off of Star Wars would be an egregious insult since the term 'Star Wars rip-off' is an oxymoron. The two films are separated by language barriers and a few million dollars in production costs but are united by an unabashed love of fantastic cinema and the spectacular heights they can scale when the crucial components are in place." 
- Christopher T Koetting, Mind Warp!: The Fantastic True Story of Roger Corman's New World Pictures, Hemlock Books. 2009 p 158-159
- Ryfle, Steve (1999). Japan's favorite mon-star: the unauthorized biography of "The Big G". ECW Press. p. 207. ISBN 1-55022-348-8.
- Wheeler, Jeremy. "Star Crash (1978)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
- Hall, Phil (2005-05-13). "The Bootleg Files: "Starcrash"". Film Threat. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
- Holland, Chris; Hamilton, Scott (1999-05-19). "Starcrash". Stomp Tokyo. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
- Starcrash soundtrack description at MovieMusic.com
- Thompson, Nathaniel (2006). DVD Delirium: The International Guide to Weird and Wonderful Films on DVD 3. Godalming, England: FAB Press. pp. 511–512. ISBN 1-903254-40-X.
- Kurt Dahlke. "Starcrash". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
- R.L. Shaffer. "Starcrash". IGN. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
- J.C. Maçek III. "Starcrash". WorldsGreatestCritic.com. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
- Morgan, Bobby. "Top 10 Reasons Why Star Crash is Better Than Star Wars". EuroCultAV. Scott MacDonald. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
- Starcrash at the Internet Movie Database
- Starcrash at the Internet Archive
- Starcrash at allmovie
- Starcrash at Rotten Tomatoes
- Female Space Invaders at Rotten Tomatoes
- Starcrash B-Movie Review at www.badmovies.org
- Star Crash - Scontri stellari oltre la Terza Dimensione at terrediconfine.eu (Italian)
- Starcrash at Livestream