Okay, okay, you’ll all look at this and say “Pah! Sci-Fi? Why, this is meant to be horror! Damn you Crawler!” and so on. However, this film is perhaps the only Star Wars rip off to feature the removal of an arm via a futuristic chainsaw (with lights on it), a severe stabbing with green blood, scar faced mutant bad guys raping a woman (only suggested but quite effective), and Sybil Danning dressed as a space fantasy dominatrix with chest valley on show. Forget Caroline Munro in Star Crash folks, this is the real deal! There is a pretty horrific burning, ears bleeding, and most shocking of all – George (A Team) Peppard and John Boy Walton!
John Saxon plays Sador, the overlord of a galactic empire who takes his crew and army of scar faced and mistake like warriors planet to planet with the intentions of enslaving the populations. His ace card is the Steller Convertor, which is similar to the power of the Death Star only more graphic – this baby literally cooks the planet slowly. They arrive at Akir, a peaceful planet with a population of robe wearing crowds who don’t really know what to do in the face of such violence. Zed, an old blind man who recalls more harsher times, loans his ship to Richard Thomas (Waltons), and a mission commences to follow producer Roger Corman’s great ideas and rip off The Magnificent Seven… interesting to note, Corman reused scenes for about another two cheap knock offs afterwards.
So off goes John Boy, with the company of a ship’s wise ass talking computer that sounds like Whoopie Goldberg sat in the audience in Jerry Springer’s studio. He collects a bag of mercenaries and people who hate Sador, oh and telepathic aliens who have no reason to come along apart from the experience. These saviours of Akir are treated with fear by John Boy’s people at first… bear in mind, they include a mean spirited Robert Vaughn as Gelt, who is the same character he played in the Seven under the name of Lee. Also included is a big loud lizard freak who has a tattooed sidekick and two bald headed electric fires with him (trust me on this), and there is Sybil Danning’s rather shocking tits.
They soon warm to their heroes, and after a little talk around the fire, the first attack comes. George Peppard who plays Cowboy (!!) leads the ground force whilst John Boy takes to the stars with Gelt, the lizard, and a few others. Here’s where the film really takes an adult turn, proving it was never really sure of its audience; we see a sonic tank that bursts eardrums so gushes of blood oozes out, and we see a hell of a wham to the guts stabbing. After the battle comes the chainsaw arm scene… I’ll say no more. The second attack is an epic balls to the wall space fight with many deaths and prolonged acting by John Saxon, who is a pure master in any roll he performs. Oh, and Sybil Danning really screams at one point.
So, that’s the story. As for the rest, I have to say that the effects are excellent for the era; decent model work, good rubber masks, great zap gunfire bolts… the team have really taken care on this film. The acting by all the main stars is spot on, they seem to really enjoy the material, but the under-stars let the film down; some of John Boy’s people are as wooden as Keanu Reeves. The music by James Horner is well worth a listen to (one part has been sampled by cult NYC rap group Non Phixion on their track Futurama) and, apart from a really long drawn out section in which John Boy meets his love on a space station manned by androids, the film never slows its pace. The horror elements work very well and help elevate what may have been just another George Lucas rip off…, which it is, but it has a good script. Additionally, this was my favourite film as a kid… I think that answers a lot of questions. Umm.
©2010 – 2011 Cinematic Horror Archive, Dave J. Wilson – All work is the property of the credited author(s) and may not be reprinted or reproduced elsewhere without permission.