The poster doesn't get the title right, and the golf carts didn't fly, but everything else is disturbingly accurate, including the railing kills.
"Ahahah, good, good, back to the rusting septic system of this Space Mutiny
futuristic space ship!"
(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
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). The film also borrows almost all of its spaceship footage from Battlestar Galactica
, including using the Galactica
itself as a stand in for the Southern Sun
For the Mystery Science Theater 3000
version, please go to the episode recap page
. The film was also featured on Red Letter Media
's Best of the Worst
Tropes used in Space Mutiny:
- Action Girl: For an 80s heroine, Lea is actually pretty involved in the fighting.
- Artistic License – Astronomy: "Constellation" is used as a meaningful locational term.
- And windows in deep space can somehow bring in a stream of sunlight! This would be possible if they were near a star system at the time, but exterior shots of the Southern Sun show that they're not. Even if they were, raw sunlight shining through a spaceship's windows would be very harmful, since there's no ozone layer or atmosphere to block most of its ultraviolet rays.
- Artistic License – Military: Commander Jansen outranks Captain Devers, who in a real ship would be the highest ranking officer.
- A-Team Firing: Lea among others had poor aim. With both Kalgan and Ryder's "speeders" bearing down on her, she fires at Kalgan... and manages to hit Ryder's speeder, temporarily disabling it.
- Awesome but Impractical: The guy standing out in the open shooting the (extremely short range) flamethrower at people armed with laser guns. Fortunately they're all lousy shots.
- Back from the Dead: Due to poor editing, a woman who was murdered reappears (as an extra) in the very next scene, which is mocked ruthlessly on MST3K.
Crow (pretending to be Captain Devers): I think it was very nice of you to give that dead woman another chance, sir.
- Badass Bookworm: Lea is a doctor, after all.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: Steve Codell says he'd rather jump to his doom than join Kalgan (or be put on ice). He's just climbing over the railing when Kalgan gives him a push.
Tom: I just wish I had Jessie's Girl!
- Big "NO!": What Kalgan shouts instead of jumping out of the vehicle he's in to avoid a collision, like the hero just did.
- Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: The Fixed Forward Facing Weapons on the Enforcer vehicles seem to be able to shoot at any angle other than straight along the barrel.
- Bridge Bunnies: Some of whom are dressed so scantily they may as well be Hugh Hefner Bunnies.
- The Captain: Commander Jansen. Not the actual captain though. The real captain, Captain Devers never seems to actually do anything.
- Captain Obvious: The captain theorises that the saboteur is "someone who knows his way around spaceships". Well that should cut it down a bit.
- Chase Scene: Done with floor waxers, which our hero could just as easily chase after on foot.
Crow: Put your helmet on, we'll be reaching speeds of 3!
- The Chosen One: Ryder.
- Cool Starship: The Southern Sun. Except it's the Galactica.
- Covers Always Lie: Sort of. The Agony Booth tells us that the VHS packaging claims the film features "breathtaking special effects from the team that brought you Star Wars." This is technically true, in the sense that the team that worked on Star Wars went on to do SFX for the original Battlestar Galactica series, Stock Footage from which was used for Space Mutiny. The rest of the film's special effects, on the other hand...
- 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.
- Damsel out of Distress : Lea frees herself after being captured and proceeds to accompany the hero through the rest of the movie.
- 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, after he reveals that he, too, knew and liked the professor.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "We keep this TOP CLASSIFIED SECRET."
- "And there wasn't time to go to the auxiliary backup system."
- Die Hard On A Spaceship.
- The Dragon: MacPherson, to Kalgan.
- Dressing as the Enemy: Awkwardly handled. Ryder kicks the crap out a mook and steals his perfectly-fitted costume, even though the guy was half his size.
- Lea then is able to take another mook's outfit, despite her being half the guy's size.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady (or is it Lady Looks Like A Dude?)
- Evil Cripple: MacPherson, co-conspirator of the mutiny, who needs a cane to get around and occasionally uses it to kill people.
- Evil Laugh: Kalgan, all the time.
- Eye Awaken: The original Trope Namer via MST3K.
Servo: I'm sitting in something wet!
- Fan Disservice: Leah's fake seduction scene with the balding, flabby guard. Thanks for the zoom in on his pasty chest, movie.
- Fanservice: Lea's dancing scene. She also has a short topless scene in the uncut movie.
- The Belarians are basically made of this trope. They spend all their time dancing around in swimsuits and gauze and give magical lapdances to the crew.
- Generation Ships: The Southern Sun is one, but since Ryder and others shuttle back and forth to other locations it isn't at all clear why.
- Get On With It Already: The ending.
- Godiva Hair: One of the female bridge crew had extremely long hair that just happened to cover what little of a uniform she had on.
- Gratuitous Disco Sequence: With hoola-hoops. And an equally gratuitous Panty Shot when Lea drops hers.
- Greek Chorus: The Bellerians
- Groin Attack: Repeatedly. On the same guard.
Mike: Ow! Why do you hate my groin so much?!
- I Did What I Had to Do: Verbatim from Ryder as he's called out for unintentionally causing Professor Spooner's death. It doesn't really make sense though; he was teleported out of his ship by an automated ejection system, meaning that technically he didn't do anything at all, good or bad.
- I Have Your Daughter: The mutineers attempt this by capturing Lea and threatening to have her Thrown Out the Airlock. Unfortunately for them she's savvy enough to escape on her own; she basically rescues herself with The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction routine.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy
You know, they shouldn't have set their phasers
to "miss." Servo:
Why is he so impossible to hit? Why do they keep missing the slow, giant, white thing? Crow:
Here's some free advice for the mutineers: STOP AND AIM, YOU IDIOTS!
- Informed Ability: As the exchange directly below (under Insistent Terminology) demonstrates, Lea is a doctor of some kind, but never does or says anything else to back it up.
- Well, since she's in the Greenhouse facility a lot, she's likely a botanist.
- Insistent Terminology
David Ryder: Listen lady!
Crow: Doctor lady!
- In the Back: MacPhearson shooting a bunch of his engineer staff for poorly explained reasons.
- 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. Later, MacPherson makes the unwise decision of trying to hide in the Gas Expulsion Sump, which Ryder promptly fills with methane and sets on fire.
- Large Ham: The sheer amount of ham on this spaceship could put Captain Kirk to shame. Not only our hero Ryder qualifies, but also Kalgan and his right-hand flunky MacPherson. Even Lea gets in on it from time to time.
- Laughably Evil: Kalgan, though not on purpose.
- Made of Explodium
Mike: Ow. Big explosion for a tiny electric cart.
Crow: Yeah, he shouldn't have been carrying that case of cleaning fluid and nitroglycerin and gelignite in there.
Tom Plus, he microwaved an egg at the same time.
- Malevolent Masked Men: The Enforcers, or at least all those without speaking roles.
- May-December Romance: The Bellarians giving a lapd— ahem, imparting the cosmic truth to the captain.
- Mickey Mousing: When MacPherson stabs a dissenting crew member.
- Mood Whiplash: Lea is upset over her professor friend's death, yet walks onto the bridge with a big smile on her face, and then goes to the space disco to party.
- And even though there's a mutiny going on, the good guys have a party on the bridge.
- Mooks: The Enforcers.
- Moral Dissonance: The way Ryder dispatches the evil MacPhearson is pretty brutal. It doesn't help that MacPhearson was helpless at that point and basically begging for his life.
- Not necessarily, since MacPhearson was still armed and seemed to be trying to lure Ryder out into the open to shoot him. He gave no indication that he was surrendering.
- He still could have just shot MacPhearson. Setting him on fire seems pointlessly cruel.
- Neutral Female: Lea's attempts to help out in a firefight are marginally effective at best. At worst, she does more damage to Ryder than to Kalgan, because she shoots Ryder's go-kart.
- No OSHA Compliance: Averted, mostly because the film was shot in a real world OSHA-compliant factory. The railings actually play a big part in the action scenes.
- The Omniscient Coven of Vagueness: Oh yes — a group of gauze-clad Space Witches called Bellerians show up early in the film, and proceed to do nothing for the rest of the film except exposit Fauxlosophically about the plot. Also they dance around in gauzy scarves and skimpy one-piece swimsuits with holes cut in them.
- Note that they have exactly no impact on the plot. With two notable exceptions no one they interact with appears in the rest of the movie, even as mooks. The first exception is Commander Jansen, and the second are two mooks who appear again in a single blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene where they're put into cryogenic deep freeze for their failure.
- 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.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Not the actual pirates in the movie, who at least try to do something, but this trope does apply to Captain Devers who, despite being the captain of the ship, never does anything at all, to the extent that many viewers assume the much more proactive Commander Jansen is supposed to be the captain.
- 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.
- Railing Kill: The Trope Namer, seeing as they appear in abundance. Hell, it even appears in the movie poster.
- Red Right Hand: MacPhearson's limp.
- Relationship Reboot: Dave Ryder and Lea Jansen.
- The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction. Lea on the doughy henchmen.
- Screaming Warrior: What Ryder is supposed to be.
- 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 a Stock Footage repeat of the previous partying scene.
- SpaceX: Not only the title...
Kalgan: You let that space bitch slip through our fingers!
- The pirates call upon the Southern Sun to surrender or be blown into "astro-dust".
- Shaped Like Itself: Ryder mentions an "auxiliary backup system."
- 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 here. Men usually wear semi-futuristic jumpsuits, which are white and silver for good guys and brown and black for the villainous mooks (except for MacPherson). Women often wear Space Leotards, though a few of them do get jumpsuits too (see Stripperiffic, below). Commander Jansen wears a silvery Space Muumuu, and Lobster Boy wears what looks like red martial arts pads with no shirt underneath.
- The men's uniforms are about evenly split between coveralls and slightly modified restaurant whites.
- Space Pirates: Mostly just an excuse to use the Cylon footage. Originally presented as a major threat, but the Southern Sun destroys the entire fleet with a single volley. Since they're mentioned to control a large section of territory including at least one inhabited planet, it isn't entirely clear why they're considered just pirates.
- 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.
- Stripperiffic: Female crewmembers besides Lt. Lamont all dress like American Gladiators.
- Lobster Boy, as well. He wears pants and red martial arts pads but no shirt.
- Stock Footage: All the space footage was taken from Battlestar Galactica's stock footage.
- The Ship in this movie flies in the opposite direction from the original.
- Stock Sound Effect: The movie used the same "red alert," sound effect used in Star Trek.
- Strapped to an Operating Table / Depraved Dentist: Kalgan's interrogation of Lea, which involves a laser used to burn out her teeth.
- And the laser sounds exactly like a dentist's drill, which is lampshaded by the MST3K crew ("ah, the laser that whirrs like a drill!"). It even works "not unlike ancient dental equipment. Not that you'd know anything about that."
- Telepathy: Used by the Bellerians.
Priestess: "Listen to me. I speak the truth."
MST3K: "Actually she thinks the truth, very loudly."
- Surrounded by Idiots
ARRGGHHH I am surrounded by incompetence! (Milking the Giant Cow)
I am undermined by my own disciples!
- Teleporters and Transporters: This is how Ryder "ejects" from his crashing ship. It's also how they enable Reb Brown to leave a "ship" that's stock footage from Battlestar Galactica.
- This Is a Drill: Yet it's supposed to be a laser, despite the loud drill sounds.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Kalgan delivers this trope-filled line:
: Take that, you space bitch!
- 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 Ryder 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.
- A non-living example: The Southern Sun looks remarkably like The Galactica.
- Younger Than They Look: Lea, who looks much older than the actress playing her through a combination of bad makeup and poofy '80s hair.
- Zeerust: The future looks a lot like The Eighties.
Crow: Wall-mounted keyboards. It must be THE FUTURE!