Film / Starcrash

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ZarthArn.jpg
"By sunset I'll be the new emperor. And I'll be the master of the whole universe!" — Count Zarth Arn posing in his fist-shaped space fortress
We'll scan it with our computer waves.
The only solution is to leave space and re-enter on the other side.

In the late '70s, Italian director Luigi Cozzi attempted to capitalize of the success of Star Wars by creating a space movie with B-movie faves Caroline Munro and Marjoe Gortner, plus Christopher Plummer and even David Hasselhoff. The result? STARCRASH!

The evil Count Zarth Arn is threatening to take over the galaxy with the most powerful weapon in the galaxy. The Emperor's son has gone missing after this weapon destroyed his spaceship, and smugglers Akton and Stella Star must find him and destroy the weapon.

Starcrash (original title Scontri stellari oltre la terza dimensionetranslation ) is a hilariously bad movie, made better by the hilariously artificial-sounding translation. Many believe it to be even worse than that. It's a really, really, really badly done movie, so watch at your own peril.

In 2017 it was included in the revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Tropes related to the MST3K episode are found here.


This film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Stella Star. She's the best pilot in the galaxy, a smuggler, a good shot with a ray gun, and ends up being the hero of the film. (That said, she devolves into a Faux Action Girl as the movie goes on, at one point even becoming just a Neutral Female, but she does regain her Action Girl chops at the end)
  • American Accents: The robot L speaks with a Texan accent.
  • Bald of Evil: Thor
  • Boarding Pod: Towards the end of the film the heroes send troops into the Big Bad's fortress using golden torpedoes which are fired through the windows.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Zarth Arn corners the heroes with an army of armed robot guards... and proceeds to leave them on a planet set to explode.
  • Captain Obvious: The smugglers come across a drifting, derelict spacecraft. They can see it out the window, big and glaring, for several seconds. Then, Stella Star gets a look of utter surprise on her face, and squeals, "IT'S A SPACE SHIP!!"
  • Colony Drop: The titular Starcrash.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: The Emperor of the Galaxy tries to do this at the end of the movie, but the script isn't really written well enough for him to succeed.
  • Covers Always Lie: Many of the posters make L look like a looming Darth Vader Clone, when he's actually one of the heroes.
  • Cowardly Lion: L is always saying how various things make him "nervous." It doesn't stop him from being a badass.
  • Curbstomp Battle: The climax of the movie, but not in the way you'd think. The Imperial forces get their asses thoroughly kicked. How thoroughly? The extended ship-launching sequence that precedes the battle actually lasts several times longer than the battle itself.
  • Death Is Cheap: L the robot dies twice. The first time he's shot in the chest by space amazons, but turns out to be Not Quite Dead. The second time he's literally smashed into pieces by cavemen before bursting into a shower of sparks and smoke and yet there's somehow enough of him left for the Emperor to rebuild him.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Stella's name means "Star Star".
  • Deus ex Machina: Stuck on a planet only 48 seconds before it explodes? Good thing your battleship can stop time long enough for you to get off the planet
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: There are giant, golden torpedoes that fly through space and have soldiers in them that shoot lasers.
  • Elite Mooks: The Golems.
  • Emergency Cargo Dump: Stella and Akton have to drop the cargo they're smuggling to escape the pull of a neutron star.
  • The Emperor: Christopher Plummer as the Emperor of the Galaxy And he's a good guy, to boot.
  • Expanded Universe: Yes, there really is one, thanks to a anthology called, of course, Curved Space.
  • Evil Overlord: Zarth Arn the evil Count. He's said to rule half of the galaxy and be the Emperor's sole rival.
  • Expy: Par for the course for a Star Wars ripoff, but actually played with a lot.
    • L the robot looks a lot like a low-rent Darth Vader but his personality is basically the complete opposite. He's basically a somewhat less obnoxious C3PO.
    • Zarth Arn, the villain, is much more like Darth Vader, only he's the actual Big Bad, not just The Dragon.
    • Stella Star is an ace pilot, former smuggler, and crack shot, sort of like a sexy female Han Solo.
    • Akton has mystical powers and a lightsaber and plays an Obi-Wan role.
    • The Emperor, of course, but unlike Emperor Palpatine, this one is one of the heroes of the film.
    • Simon is the Emperor's son and also one of the heroes, and briefly uses Akton's lightsaber, making him close to Luke Skywalker.
    • Zarth Arn's superweapon is played up like an expy of the Death Star, but is actually pretty lame. It doesn't blow up planets, it projects psychic waves towards ships to make the crash... and it only works on ships that are passing directly by the planet it's on.
  • Face–Heel Turn / The Mole: It's unclear which of these Thor is, as they don't clarify whether he'd always been a traitor or if he had just recently gone over to working for Zarth Arn.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: The ray guns in this film do some weird things. Usually they just create a burst of fire and put a hole through people. When used on the amazons they made them disintegrate. They also cause a door to explode at one point.
  • Genre-Busting: Aside from Star Wars the movie's primary influences seem to be Sword & Sandal flicks, particularly Jason and the Argonauts. Director Luigi Cozzi specifically referred to the film as "science fantasy instead of science fiction."
  • Green Lantern Ring: The sine waves that Akton can make hover over his hand seem to be able to do anything from allowing him to see into the future to acting as an emergency microwave oven.
  • Grey and Black Morality: The Emperor's regime sees nothing wrong with sentencing people to a lifetime of slave labour in radioactive conditions with no protective clothing... and not even hardened super-criminals, but simple smugglers like Stella and Akton who are presented as not really being all that bad. Still, the film portrays them as the good guys because Zarth Arn is pretty much literally a pantomime villain. Their mooks even wear identical uniforms in different colors (which are actually grey with brown and black.
  • Harmless Freezing: Stella gets buried under a snowdrift and makes a complete recovery through a combination of holding L's hand before being buried (so that he could use his systems to regulate her body temperature) and Akton demonstrating yet another unexplained superpower.
  • Informed Attribute: While we're told what a great pilot and fighter Stella Star is, she doesn't actually contribute much to the missions, never saves anyone, fails to prevent two teammates from dying, and is frequently captured and in need of rescue by her companions. The only thing we see her do is get out of prison, but even that is because other characters arrange for it (and they all drop dead as she runs to save her own skin). Akton, meanwhile, actually lives up to his build up.
  • Large Ham: Zarth Arn
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Twisted around and thoroughly botched, with Simon's extremely clunky exposition about being the Emperor's son.
  • Made of Explodium: People, when they're hit with laser beams. (Except for Akton, who just turns into sine waves.) Also, nuclear reactors, which blow up spectacularly after being shot once, which makes one wonder why guards are allowed to bring guns into that room in the first place.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Zarth's "Golems".
  • Ms. Fanservice: Stella even manages to outdo the Amazons when it comes to inexplicable clothing choices.
  • Never Tell Me the Odds!: Akton spends the trip through hyperspace enumerating the probabilities of all the different ways he and Stella could be killed. No Determinator here, but neither of them seem to find it particularly interesting.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Tons. Akton is presented as merely being Stella's friend and navigator until his battle with Thor, when his eyes flash and he suddenly gains super strength and an immunity to lasers. Later he gets a lightsaber out of nowhere, and then reveals himself to be an immortal energy being. Seriously. The Emperor's flagship having the ability to selectively stop time is another big one.
  • Obi-Wan Moment: Fittingly for a Star Wars rip-off, Akton gets one.
  • Obviously Evil:
  • Orcus on His Throne: Zarth Arn's means of taking over the galaxy is a weapon so large it had to be hidden inside a planet. The weapon only seems to be able to attack things right next to the planet, which has no means of propulsion. Zarth Arn has nothing to do but walk around his spaceship talking about how he will rule the galaxy by sunset.
  • Ramming Always Works: The titular "Starcrash" involves piloting a mobile city into an enemy ship. Considering that everyone present knows exactly what the Emperor means after he utters the vague phrase "starcrash" it seems that this is a common strategy.
  • Reality Ensues: What did they THINK was going to happen when they sent eight space marines to fight an entire fortress full of enemy soldiers?
  • Same Language Dub: Caroline Munro's English voice is replaced by American actress Candy Clark's for the English dub (she was married to co-star Marjoe Gortner at the time).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: All of Arn's men abandon him at the end and escape when the Floating City is sent on a collision course with his ship. He just yells at them for being cowards and insists on remaining, and ends up taking the Floating City in the space.
  • Shooting Superman: Akton suddenly develops the superpower to block ray gun shots, yet Thor just keeps shooting at him. Akton deflects the rays back at him, and Thor continues shooting, hitting himself four or five times before he dies.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Imperial warship at the beginning is named Murray Leinster. Two of her officers are named Clarke and Bradbury.
    • The giant robot on the Amazon planet is an homage to Talos from Jason and the Argonauts. They even have similar swords.
    • The Judge presiding over Stella and Akton's trial resembles the Martian Mastermind from the 1953 film "Invaders from mars".
  • Zarth Arn's name is taken from Edmond Hamilton's Star Kings, although there it was the name of one of the good guys - who did have access to a powerful superweapon, and the Big Bad was doing all in his power to get it from him.
  • Smug Snake: Thor, so damn hard. Even before his Face–Heel Turn he just oozes smugness with every line.
  • Space Friction: Leaves a trail.
  • Space Is an Ocean: At one point, Stella swims between two spaceships.
  • Space Is Noisy: All spaceships move through space making all kinds of whooshing, whirring and/or beeping sounds.
  • Space Police: L and Thor were members of this before being assigned to help Stella and Akton, though Thor was apparently a Dirty Cop.
  • Stripperiffic: Stella. Apparently, skimpy clothing is perfectly suitable for manually moving around radioactive material. At least she puts on some clothes for the ice planet. To a lesser extent, the entire population of the planet of Amazons, including their Humongous Mecha.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Zarth Arn at the end of the movie.
    Zarth Arn: ZOLTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN! ZOLTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!
  • Worthy Opponent: Before the movie began, L was a member of the Space Police assigned to tracking down the smugglers Stella and Akton. Stella admits later on that while she found L's determination infuriating at the time it's also his best trait.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/Starcrash