Space Mutiny

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Space Mutiny
Directed byDavid Winters
Neal Sundstrom
Written byMaria Danté
Ian Yule (uncredited)
Produced byDavid Winters
StarringReb Brown
Cisse Cameron
Cameron Mitchell
James Ryan
John Phillip Law
Graham Clark
Billy Second
Rufus Swart
CinematographyVincent G. Cox
Andrew Parke
Edited byBill Asher
Charlotte Konrad
Catherine Meyburon
Music byTim James
Mark Mancina
Steve McClintock
Distributed byAction International Pictures
Release dates
  • 1988 (1988) (United States)
  • 20 January 1990 (1990-01-20) (Japan)
Running time
93 minutes
CountriesSouth Africa
United States

Space Mutiny is a 1988 South African/American space opera science fiction film whose credited director is David Winters and replaced by Neal Sundstrom during production. Produced by Hope Holiday and shot in South Africa, it stars Reb Brown, Cisse Cameron, Cameron Mitchell, James Ryan, and John Phillip Law.

The film is about a mutiny aboard the generation ship known as the Southern Sun which is stopped with the aid of a visiting pilot, the protagonist.

Upon the first shooting day, it was announced to director David Winters that his father had died. Being emotionally troubled and with a funeral to attend, Winters was unable to perform his duties and passed it on to his assistant director Neal Sundstorm. However, he was informed that the investors had agreed to the film only if Winters was its director, and could face litigation if he withdrew, hence his credit. After its release, Winters disowned the film.

The film has the reputation of being an amusing, unintentionally funny, and campy B-movie. It was later included in an episode of the TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000.


The Southern Sun is a generation ship, a spacefaring vessel that contains a large number of people, whose mission is to colonize a new world. Its voyage from its original homeworld (implied to be Earth) has lasted thirteen generations, so many of its inhabitants have been born and will die without ever setting foot on solid ground. This does not please the antagonist, Elijah Kalgan (John Phillip Law), who conspires with the pirates infesting the nearby Corona Borealis system and the ship's Chief Engineer MacPhearson (James Ryan). Kalgan hatches a plot to disrupt the Southern Sun's navigation systems and use the Enforcers, the ship's police force, to hijack the ship and direct it towards this system. At this point, the inhabitants of the Southern Sun will have no choice but to accept his "generosity".

Kalgan sabotages a key part of the ship just as a small craft with an important professor aboard is on a landing trajectory. The loss of guidance control causes the craft to crash and explode. The pilot, Dave Ryder (Reb Brown), is able to escape, but the professor dies in the explosion. This sabotage seals off the flight deck for a number of weeks, which gives Kalgan the opportunity to attempt to wrest control. With the Enforcers in his hand, and with the flight deck out of commission, he holds the entire population of the Southern Sun hostage. Commander Jansen (Cameron Mitchell) and Captain Devers enlist Ryder's assistance, aided begrudgingly by Jansen's daughter Dr. Lea Jansen (Cisse Cameron), to regain control of the ship.



According to credited director David Winters, the casting of Reb Brown as the lead was due to the positive reviews he received for a previous film. While being offered the role, Brown asked Winters if he could hire his wife Cisse Cameron, for which he accepted. John Phillip Law was hired because of his credentials and to add extra marquee value. James Ryan and Cameron Mitchell were hired because they had good working relationships with Winters.[1]

Winters explained that on the first day of production, he received a call that his father died. Upon receiving the news, he passed on the directorial duties to his assistant director Neal Sundstrom, and took the first plane from its filming location in South Africa back to the United States.[1]

The funeral took a lot of energy from him, was emotionally distraught, and when it was done he decided to stay in the US to comfort his grieving mother.[1]

Eventually, the law firm in charge of the production contacted him to explain that on the contract with the investors, it was agreed that they would get a film directed by David Winters, and could sue if not delivered as such. Not feeling up to the task, Winters with producer Hope Holiday decided that he could stay in a hotel in Johannesburg for the remainder of the shoot and if any investors showed up he could go to set.[1]

Ever since Winters has disowned the film.[1]

The special effects outside the Southern Sun were copied from the 1978–79 series Battlestar Galactica. [2]


Danny Reagan, in his review published in the Abilene Reporter-News, found it enjoyable and said it "is strictly B-grade sci-fi movie fare, but pretty good B-stuff. And B's usually are made for family viewing, as is this one".[3]

Mike Mayo wrote in The Roanoke Times that the film was comical and "high level camp". He graded it two stars and a half out of five. His consensus was that "for fans of alternative video. This one is a treat".[4]

In his review published in The Times, Tom Lounges gave it three out of five stars. While he thought the dialogue wasn't very good he said that the "film is never at loss for action and special-effect sequences". He found John Phillip Law's performance too campy, but liked the ones from James Ryan, Reb Brown, and Cameron Mitchell.[5]

A Variety reviewer who goes by the pseudonym "Lor" declared the film to be "an okay space saga" noting that "Cute model shots provide a patina of space opera section though the special effects are decidedly chintzy."[6]

The movie-mocking television comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000 lampooned it. Writer Bill Corbett recalled "one of the movies that stood out for me was Space Mutiny. It was a South African film that was really fun and really dumb and gave us the gift of having a character killed off pointedly one moment and then, five minutes later, sitting back at her desk".[7] Kayleigh Hearn of said it was the second best episode of the show and said 'action-packed and incredibly quotable, Space Mutiny is a perfect entry point for viewers new to "MST3K."'[2]

Saga of a Fugitive Fleet Audio Drama[edit]

In 2020, the plot of Space Mutiny was adapted for an audio drama Saga of a Fugitive Fleet, that served as an unofficial continuation of the original Battlestar Galactica series. In the revamped Space Mutiny plot, Kalgan is the head of Fleet Security and stages a mutiny designed to divert the fleet from its search for the planet Earth, among other plot points. Original cast members Terry Carter, Noah Hathaway, Anne Lockhart, Sarah Rush and Laurette Spang participated. [8]


  1. ^ a b c d e Winters, David (2018). Tough guys do dance. Pensacola, Florida: Indigo River Publishing. pp. 4348–4411. ISBN 978-1-948080-27-9.
  2. ^ a b Hearn, Kayleigh (24 September 2021). "30 Best Mystery Science Theater 3000 Episodes Ranked". Looper. Retrieved 18 February 2024.
  3. ^ Reagan, Danny (31 March 1989). "Two from AIP, and a very weird one from Vestron". Abilene Reporter-News: 2C.
  4. ^ Mayo, Mike (26 April 1989). "A foursome of farces from the far side". The Roanoke Times: Extra: 1.
  5. ^ Lounges, Tom (5 May 1989). "Aliens, lasers stir excitement in science fiction release". The Times: C-6.
  6. ^ Variety's Film Reviews 1989-1990. Vol. 21. New Jersey: R. R. Bowker. 1991. pp. No pages. ISBN 0-8352-3089-9.
  7. ^ Raftery, Brian (22 April 2014). "Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Definitive Oral History of a TV Masterpiece". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Archived from the original on 13 July 2023. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  8. ^ Curtis Lanclos (3 October 2023). "The RetroZest Podcast Episode 140-Battlestar Galactica 45th Anniversary, Pt.2 (Sarah Rush Interview)". RetroZest Blog & Podcast (Podcast). Event occurs at 1:19:14. Retrieved 8 October 2023.

Works cited[edit]

  • Variety's Film Reviews 1989-1990. Vol. 21. New Jersey: R. R. Bowker. 1991. ISBN 978-0-8352-3089-6
  • Winters, David. Tough guys do dance. Pensacola, Florida: Indigo River Publishing. 2018 ISBN 978-1-948080-27-9.

External links[edit]