Space Mutiny (also known as Mutiny in Space) is a 1988 legendarily bad science-fiction action film starring Reb Brown about, surprisingly enough, a mutiny aboard the spaceship known as the Southern Sun.The Southern Sun is a seedship, a spacefaring vessel full of colonists out to settle a new world. Its voyage has lasted 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 (not be confused with Calgon), who conspires with the pirates infesting the nearby Corona Borealis system and the ship's Chief Engineer MacPhearson. 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 the vessel's guidance system just as an important professor's shuttle is on a landing trajectory, causing it to crash (offscreen). The ship's pilot, Dave Ryder, is able to escape, but the professor dies in the explosion. This sabotage seals off the flight deck for a number of weeks, allowing Kalgan and the Enforcers to hold the entire population of the Southern Sun hostage. Commander Jansen and Captain Devers enlist Ryder's assistance, aided begrudgingly by Jansen's daughter Dr. Lea Jansen, to regain control of the ship.Space Mutiny was filmed in South Africa during The Apartheid Era (a fact understandably not mentioned on the end credits - see also Prisoners of the Lost Universe, Golden Rendezvous, Hellgate etc), which some viewers think ties in to all the pseudo-fascistic goings-on (and explains the all-white cast, not that that was exactly unusual in Hollywood action movies of the time).For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.
Tropes used in Space Mutiny:
Action Girl: For an 80s heroine, Lea is actually pretty involved in the fighting.
Creator Backlash: The credited director, David Winters (whose other major contribution to the world of cinema was choreographing the dance routines in The Star Wars Holiday Special) actually only directed a small portion of it, after which he quit due to family troubles. He wanted his credit changed to Alan Smithee, but found out the hard way that the Director's Guild doesn't really care about the credits on low-budget exploitation films.
For an encore, Neal Sundstrom, the director who was actually responsible for the bulk of the film, wasn't very happy with the finished product either, and elected to have a "co-director" title which was buried in the end credits.
Curb-Stomp Battle: A Colony Ship that's old enough to have over a dozen generations of people on it can somehow take on three Space Pirate ships and win in a few seconds.
Any time Ryder fights, he wins.
Dawson Casting: Lea (very obviously), Ryder (less obviously, making the former example all the more glaring).
Defrosting Ice Queen: At first, Lea hates Ryder, blaming him for the death of her friend the professor. Of course, she falls for him the very next scene.
In the Back: MacPhearson shooting a bunch of his engineer staff.
Join or Die: Variant. Kalgan offers a technician who discovers his evil plot to either join or be cryogenically frozen. The technician chooses a third option of dying. Kalgan obliges.
Kill It with Fire: A, for want of a better word, flamethrower features during the main battle, and Mc Pherson makes an unwise into the Gas Expulsion Sump, which Ryder promptly fills with methane and sets on fire.
Large Ham: Not only our hero Ryder, but Kalgan and his right-hand flunky MacPherson.
Note that they have exactly no impact on the plot. It's fairly obvious the part was added after everything else was shot, since except for the one brief scene with Santa no-one they interact with ever shows up in the main story even as mooks.
People Jars / Human Popsicle: Kalgan tends to freeze prisoners (or failure subordinates) in cryogenic suspension rather than kill them outright. This is actually a fairly canny move, as once he's taken over the ship he can thaw them out so they can still be useful to him. Unfortunately the movie didn't have a budget for a cryogenics lab so they just hung four or five guys wrapped in plastic up on a coat rack.
Punch Clock Villain: The Mortuary Keeper is just there running the facility where failed Mooks are frozen until necessary. He may work for the villain, but when the heroes arrive he asks if they need help or would like a Spot of Tea. He also answers all their questions about the Big Bad's Evil Plan. He doesn't really seem evil at all.
You could arguably count Lobster Boy and the Enforcers as a whole, though they're at the very least openly mean-spirited.
Romance on the Set: The awkward romance between Dave and Lea is a major contrast to real life - Reb Brown (Dave) and Cisse Cameron (Lea) fell in love during the Ted Knight Show back in 1979, and are still married today.
Sexy Discretion Shot: After the final make-out session, the camera cuts to a shot of the whatever's engines flaring as it boosts upwards across the screen.
Screw the War, We're Partying: After Commander Jansen fires Kalgan for sabotage and mutiny, and announces Ryder's promotion into his position, Ryder's friends celebrate with a party. Apparently arresting Kalgan and his 200 armed conspirators is not a priority. Later after defeating the Space Pirates, we immediately cut to Stock Footage of the previous partying scene.
Slasher Smile: For no readily apparent reason, Lea sports one of these while accidentally firing on Ryder's Enforcer kart... thus making her shooting at Ryder not appear accidental at all.
Space Clothes: An unfortunate double standard seems to be set: women often wear Space Leotards (though some do get to wear actual uniforms), the men mostly...don't. The captain wears a silvery muumuu.
Stealth Parody: Again, taking Cisse Cameron's word for it, this film was still perhaps too good at emulating the films it was trying to spoof.
If this is actually true, if this movie actually was intended to be a parody from the beginning, the simple fact that nobody buys that it was intentionally this bad is a testament to what an incredible job they did. This is a perfect storm of terrible, the entire cast is fascinatingly inept, mugging and stumbling and chewing the scenery over dialogue so awkwardly bad and yet so eminently quotable while the jaw-droppingly ridiculous special effects fight for screentime with laughable costuming and hilarious action scenes and impossible-to-ignore gaffs like a murder victim popping up as an extra in the foreground of the very next scene. Everything about this movie is at the exact perfect pitch of So Bad, It's Good, to the point where it becomes So Bad Its Brilliant. In essence, if this actually is a Stealth Parody, the makers of this movie are unsung and forgotten geniuses of film, worthy of mention in the same sentence as the likes of Mel Brooks in his prime.
More of a parody of movie making itself than the sci-fi genre, though.
Too Dumb to Live - Engineer Parsons. At first the faction of mutinous engineers led by MacPhearson aren't actually that bothered by Parsons' refusal to join in the mutiny... until he says these words which, unsurprisingly, proved to be his last:
"This is mutiny! This is treason! Which I warn you I must report!"
Also the engineers that MacPhearson kills in the big fight near the film's climax. Their response to a man shooting wildly in their direction is apparently to ignore him and hope he'll go away.
Lea makes a wall-banger of a decision to go nip out from the bridge, after she and Big McLargeHuge have discussed the fact that the mutiny is ongoing. This allows Lea to grab the Distress Ball and be held hostage for...about 10 minutes.
Unexplained Recovery: As noted above, Lamont is killed in one scene and then appears on the bridge in the very next scene totally unharmed.
Used Future: "Great! Back to the rusting septic system of this futuristic spaceship!"
You Have 48 Hours: Kalgan gives the commander 12 hours to surrender the bridge, or his daughter will be Thrown Out The Airlock. You'd think 12 minutes would be more appropriate — how long does it take to surrender? Of course this just gives our hero plenty of time to carry out a rescue.
You Look Familiar: The actress playing Lt. Lamont appears as an extra on the bridge... in a scene that immediately follows Lamont's death. Whoops.
Younger Than They Look: Lea, who looks much older than the actress playing her through a combination of bad makeup and poofy '80s hair.