BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS
Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
Starring: Robert Vaughn, George
Director: Jimmy T. Murakami
Region: 1 (U.S. and
Format: Color, Widescreen, Dolby
Commentary by writer John Sayles and Roger Corman,
Commentary by producer Gale Ann Hurd, Theatrical
trailer(s), Production Stills,
Widescreen letterbox format
This cheesy 1980 sci-fi effort was made by movie producer Roger Corman (of
Death Race 2000 and
fame) to cash in - somewhat belatedly - on the popularity of
It is however notable for two reasons, namely (a) its budget, which at $2
million was the legendary B-movie producer's biggest ever, roughly more
than twice what he usually spent and (b) the talent involved.
Its director Jimmy T. Murakami went on to direct the animated anti-nuke
movie When the Wind Blows (featuring a great
score by ex-Pink Floyd leader, Roger Waters).
The script was by John Sayles who, after slumming with Corman projects
such as Alligator, went on to become one of
the most critically acclaimed indie directors with films such as
Brother from Another Planet, Matewan,
Passion Fish, The Secret of Roan Inish, Lone Star and
Men with Guns.
Art director was James Cameron (he designed all the spaceships in the
film). Yup, that James Cameron of The
Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day,
Aliens and The
Abyss fame. Oh, and did I mention Titanic?
Supplying the symphonic score is James Horner in full ripping off John
Williams mode. Speaking of which: we would later rip off this movie's
soundtrack for the music he did for Star Trek II
Wrath of Khan. Horner is of course also known for the most
annoying symphonic soundtrack of all time (Krull)
and the most overrated soundtrack of all time (Titanic).
Then there's the stars, more than one would expect with anyone from
A-Team's George Peppard and John Boy of The Waltons to Robert
Vaughn (reprising his role in The Magnificent Seven basically) and
the busty Sybil Danning crammed into an outfit that, erm, amplifies the
reasons why she became such a cult actress.
With all the talent aboard you'd expect Battle
Beyond the Stars to be better than it ultimately is, but in addition
to ripping off the plot of Seven Samurai, the movie also steals any
post-Star Wars SF clichés
it can lay its hands
on. The special effects look rather crummy today and the acting is rather
bad. However, despite this end results ought to impress any
thirteen-year-old boy. After all, there's some fun to be had with Sybil
Danning's outfit, aliens oozing green blood and lots of action. It
certainly blew me away as a thirteen-year-old when I first saw it during
its theatrical run. Okay, so I probably didn't know any better . . .
THE DISC: This Region 1 disc actually has two audio commentaries. I
listened to the one with screenwriter Sayles and producer Corman
something I rarely do (the last probably being
The Thing DVD). Anyone interested in Roger
Corman and/or low-budget film-making ought to listen to it since it is
rather interesting and informative. Not much else: some trailers (for
Piranha amongst others) and some production stills. Still better
all-round than the recent Death Race 2000 DVD
Image and sound is acceptable, but the print used has a fair amount of
scratches and the like and can't exactly be described as unblemished.
WORTH IT? If you're feeling nostalgic and like some cheesy retro
space opera, then this and Battlestar Galactica
(an edited version of the pilot released as a theatrical release outside
the States) ought to fit the bill.
RECOMMENDATION: Rent it. Besides, it is difficult to actively
dislike a movie that features a spaceship with
boobies . . .