Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone

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Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone
Spacehunter movie poster.jpg
Original film poster
Directed byLamont Johnson
Produced by
Written by
  • David Preston
  • Edith Rey
  • Daniel Goldberg
  • Len Blum
Story by
  • Stewart Harding
  • Jean LaFluer
Music byElmer Bernstein
CinematographyFrank Tidy
Edited byScott Conrad
Distributed byColumbia Pictures[1]
Release date
  • May 20, 1983 (1983-05-20)
Running time
90 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[2]
Budget$14.4 million[3]
Box office$16.5 million (US)[3]

Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone is a 1983 American space Western film. The film stars Peter Strauss, Molly Ringwald, Ernie Hudson, Andrea Marcovicci and Michael Ironside.[4] The film's executive producer was Ivan Reitman, and it was directed by Lamont Johnson. The film's music score composed by Elmer Bernstein. When the film was originally released in theaters it was shown in a polarized, over/under 3-D format. The film became part of the 3-D film revival craze of the early 1980s, being widely released after Comin' at Ya! (1981). The film is about a bounty hunter who goes on a mission to rescue three women stranded on a brutal planet and meets a vagrant teenage girl along the way.


Set in the early 22nd century, the film opens with the destruction of a space cruise liner by a bolt of nebular lightning. The only apparent survivors are three beautiful women – Nova, Reena, and Meagan – who get away in an escape pod and land on the nearest habitable planet. There, they are quickly accosted by the hostile natives and taken aboard a sail-driven vehicle resembling a pirate ship on rails.

In space, an alert goes out for the safe return of the women with a reward of 3,000 "mega-credits". A small-time salvage operator named Wolff intercepts the message and heads to the planet. Joining him is his female engineer Chalmers, who learns the planet – called Terra XI – is a failed colony that fell victim to a deadly plague and civil warfare. Wolff risks the dangers believing the reward will solve his debt problems.

After landing on the barren world, Wolff and Chalmers set out in a 4-wheel drive vehicle called the "Scrambler". Soon, they join a battle in progress between a group of marauders (called the "Zoners") and a band of nomads (the "Scavs"). The Zoners take the women before Wolff can stop them and fly away on jet-powered hang-gliders. Wolff learns from the Scavs that the women were taken into "The Zone" which is ruled by "Overdog" – their sworn enemy. Returning to the Scrambler, Wolff finds Chalmers – who is really a Gynoid – has been killed. Wolff continues on alone, but soon catches a teenage Scav named Niki trying to steal his Scrambler. She convinces Wolff that he needs a tracker if he is to survive The Zone and Wolff reluctantly takes her lead.

In the meantime, the three women are taken before "The Chemist", the chief henchman of Overdog – a hideous cyborg with giant metal claws for hands – who administers pacifying drugs to the girls and prepares them for Overdog's pleasure.

Elsewhere, Wolff and Niki make camp, but soon come under attack by a strange plow-like vehicle. Wolff manages to disable the machine and learns the driver is a former military acquaintance of his – a soldier named Washington, who reveals he too has come to rescue the women. His only problem is that he crashed his ship and has no way off of the world they're on. Wolff refuses to help his rival and leaves him to fend for himself.

Still led by Niki, Wolff gets into more predicaments – from being attacked by mutated humanoids, to strange amazon-like women and a water dragon (which the amazon-like women fear). He even loses his trusty Scrambler and is forced to continue on foot. Eventually, they are found by Washington, and Wolff finds the situation reversed as he now begs his rival for help. They agree to a 50/50 split of the reward.

Wolff and Washington team up and sneak into Overdog's fortress where they find the Zoners entertained by captured prisoners forced to run through a deadly maze of lethal obstacles, hazards and traps. Wolff spots the women being held in a cage and forms a rescue plan, but a bored Niki (who was left out of the rescue for her safety) decides to snoop around. She is captured and sent into the maze. Wolff spots Niki in the maze and tries to rescue her, but she uses her prowess to reach the end where Overdog congratulates her and drags her back to his lair. There, she is hooked to a machine that slowly drains her life energy. The energy in turn recharges Overdog. Wolff comes to the rescue and jabs a sparking power cable into one of Overdog's claws. The power feedback fries Overdog and thus causes cascading blowouts throughout the entire fortress. As the fortress explodes around them, Wolff and Niki run for cover and are rescued by the timely arrival of Washington, who is driving the plow machine with Nova, Reena and Meagan driving another commandeered vehicle. They all race out of the fortress in the nick of time as it explodes behind them.

As the complex explodes, the three heroes, and the three rescued women, manage to get away. In the ending, Wolff invites Niki to stay with him and she agrees since they made good partners.

Main cast[edit]


Parts of the film were shot in Kane Creek, Bull Canyon, Colorado River, Potash, Lower Shafer Trail, Potash Settling Ponds, Grey Hills, U.S. Highway 91, and the area south of Canyonlands Airport.[5]


The film's advertising emphasized the 3D aspects.[6] Columbia released Spacehunter on May 20, 1983, timed to be a week before Return of the Jedi.[7] It grossed $16.5 million at the United States box office.[3] While the film went mostly ignored at the U.S. box office, it did find some success on home video becoming the 10th best selling videocassette of 1983[8]


Variety called it "a muddled science fiction tale" whose editing prevents audiences from enjoying the well-shot action scenes.[9] Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that the film does more with its 3D than its contemporaries but is too crowded with derivative ideas to be memorable.[10] Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 23% and average rating of 3.21/10 based on 13 reviews.[11]

C.J. Henderson reviewed Spacehunter in Space Gamer No. 65.[12] Henderson commented that "Watch for this one when it is finally released to cable, or to the video stores. This is one of those movies one gets more from in the living-room than in the theatre."[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  2. ^ "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983)". British Film Institute. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  4. ^ "SPACEHUNTER - ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE - British Board of Film Classification".
  5. ^ D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: a history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874.
  6. ^ Salmons, Sandra (1983-06-08). "Advertising; All Sci-Fi's Are Not All The Same". The New York Times. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  7. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (1983-05-16). "HOLLYWOOD FORECAST: BEST SUMMER AT BOX OFFICE". The New York Times. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Review: 'Spacehunter – Adventures in the Forbidden Zone'". Variety. 1983. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  10. ^ Maslin, Janet (May 21, 1983). "'SPACEHUNTER,' ADVENTURES IN 3-D". The New York Times. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  11. ^ "Spacehunter". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  12. ^ a b Henderson, C.J. (September–October 1983). "Capsule Reviews". Space Gamer. Steve Jackson Games (65): 39. Retrieved January 22, 2019.

External links[edit]