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Film / Space Truckers

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Space Truckers is a 1996 film by Stuart Gordon starring Dennis Hopper, Stephen Dorff, Debi Mazar and Charles Dance.
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It is also a sci-fi comedy involving Square Pigs, Truckers IN SPACE!, Killer Robot Cyborgs, Space Pirates and a Corrupt Corporate Executive upgrading to President Evil.

Not to be confused with Space Cowboys.


Tropes:

  • Alien Blood: There are a number of violent deaths throughout the movie (including but not limited to disintegrations, bisections, limbs coming off, and decapitations) but, likely in order to retain a PG-13 rating, everyone bleeds purple and yellow goop. It's never explained in-universe why this happens.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The Pachyderm has no artificial gravity, meaning the bottle of mustard seen near the beginning is weightless while the ship isn't accelerating, decelerating, or turning. However, when John Canyon hits the breaks, that bottle of mustard keeps hanging in the air in the same place; it doesn't preserve its momentum and slam into the front of the cabin.
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  • Artistic License – Space: Unless the cabin pressure of the diner is unreasonably high, the pressure differential shouldn't have been enough for Keller to be violently squeezed through a plate-sized hole.
  • Asteroid Thicket: The Pachyderm narrowly avoids going through a cluster of "black rocks", hard-to-see asteroids. At least, most of them.
  • Asshole Victim: Keller gets the most memorably weird Thrown Out the Airlock death of the film, but given that he's a Fat Bastard Bad Boss, no one will feel too sorry about it.
  • Catch and Return: One of the Killer Robots catches a grenade thrown at it, then starts spinning wildly and tosses the grenade right back. Partly justified, since it's a machine.
  • Centrifugal Gravity: The Inter Pork station has a spinning section that houses a diner that uses this system to provide gravity a la 2001: A Space Odyssey, complete with curved floors. However, unlike 2001, the section where freighters dock is stationary, meaning that matching the angular velocity for docking is not required.
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  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Big Bad funds a top secret military project involving an army of cyborgs that brutally massacres hundreds of soldiers during a test. He then immediately turns this creation on the scientist who created them, and plots to have them shipped to Earth in order to cause a crisis. When this plot is thwarted by the very crew that signed up for the job, he offers them hush money inside a briefcase and a brand new rig to keep them quiet, as he has just become President of Earth and doesn't want a scandal in his first days in office. Unbeknownst to the truckers, however, he's hidden a bomb in the briefcase that he plans to detonate from his car to get rid of potentially incriminating witnesses. This turns out to be his downfall when one of the truckers, refusing to accept what he realizes is very dirty money, throws the briefcase out the window onto the roof of the Big Bad's limousine, causing him to blow himself up by accident.
  • Cigar Chomper: Nabel, both before and after his cybernetic transformation, where he becomes a pirate captain named after a cigar brand, Macanudo.
  • Classically Trained Extra: Charles Dance sacrificed his dignity to play a Cold Ham cyborg space pirate with a chainsaw-like motorized penis (complete with rip cord).
  • Combat Tentacles: A BMW robot that gets stuck to a door by Cindy proceeds to attack her by opening its belly and releasing a multitude of metallic tendrils that constrict her. Mike intervenes by freezing them with a fire extinguisher, allowing Cindy to break free shattering them.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Canyon unknowlingly carries the cargo of BMW cyborgs to Earth, and he gets captured by Captain Macanudo, who of all people turns out to be Dr. Nabel, the creator of the killer robots.
    • Cindy's mother just so happens to be the woman Canyon kept a Precious Photo of.
    • As luck would have it, the explosive money briefcase Mike tosses out of the hospital room lands on Saggs' limo killing him instead.
  • Cool Starship: The space trucks, especially Canyon's "Pachyderm", literally resemble regular trucks, but tweaked to function IN SPACE!. On paper this sounds lazy, but it's actually pulled off well and they look cool. Captain Macanudo's Deathshadow-looking pirate cruiser is also pretty rad.
  • Cyborg: The Jacker captain is more machine than man, and claims to have rebuilt himself and replaced every organ with machinery. The bits that remain resemble Charles Dance.
  • Danger Room Cold Open: With a very dark twist: The attack on the Triton base with the Big Bad and Mad Scientist in it at the start was just a demonstration of the Cyborg's combat power. But it wasn't a simulation. They really did let the Cyborg slaughter dozens of their own Mooks, in highly gruesome ways, as part of the test.
  • Diagonal Cut: The BMW Robot vertically slashes a pirate in half during its rampage.
  • Diner Brawl: Takes place in the greasy spoon below.
  • Disney Death: Mike and Cindy get sorrowful when they think that Canyon didn't make it out of the Pachyderm before it exploded on reentry, before Canyon arrives revealing to have parachuted himself out in time.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Canyon has clearly had a few drinks after realizing he got fired upon seeing Keller's men unhooking his load without receiving any payment.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Mr. Zesty, a black market trader, dresses in loose fitting robes, wears lipstick, and big hoop earrings. Several viewers have mistaken him for an old lady.
  • Exty Years from Publication: This 1996 movie has a story that takes place two hundred years later, in 2196.
  • Fan Disservice: Captain Macanudo's translucent cybernetic butt cheeks, with the organic anus between them.
  • Finger in the Mail: At the space diner, Canyon talks to some fellow space truckers about a fallen trucker, Kev, who got captured by Captain Macanudo after getting into a scum cluster, and the only thing the pirates sent back was a tennis ball can containing Kev's penis.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Keller stops his goon from firing a gun inside Canyon's rig because they'd all get sucked into space. When later a fight breaks out in the Diner, the same guy pulls out a gun again and guess what happens.
    • The truckers talking about the space pirates sending Kev's penis sets up Captain Macanudo threatening to subject Canyon and Mike to the same fate.
    • The police stops pursuing Canyon's truck after a voice orders them to let him go, a voice belonging to Saggs, who's pulling the strings to have his killer cyborg army transported to Earth in secret.
  • The Future: The film takes place in the year 2196.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Zig Zagged. Canyon is introduced eating a normal looking hotdog on a bun with mustard, but later he microwaves some breakfast food paste tubes, which Cindy doesn't enjoy consuming too much.
  • Greasy Spoon: That floats in the middle of a space station with a spinning donut shape to keep gravity going, a la 2001. Keeping with the trend of mixing truckers and trucker culture with sci-fi.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Downplayed, but Canyon still gets pretty cranky towards Mike upon returning from an extravehicular operation and finding him and Cindy nearly naked together.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: The first Killer Robot that activates in the Jacker ship frags the captain, and three other pirates in the hold. The captain is the only one to survive this blast, though he's missing his bottom half. It helps he was mostly machine to begin with.
  • Handy Remote Control: This turns off the killer robots. But only once they've finished assembling themselves.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Nabel is ultimately mortally wounded when one of his own creations disintegrates a large portion of what's left of his reconstructed body.
    • Newly appointed President Saggs could have gotten away with everything scott-free, if he hadn't tried to blow up the heroes with, well, see the entry for Karmic Jackpot.
  • Karmic Jackpot?: The Big Bad gives the heroes a Briefcase Full of Money and the paperwork for a new rig (on the launch pad and ready to go). Of course, this is the same guy who turned the creations of the Mad Scientist against him, so the audience knows something is up. The heroes fight about keeping really dirty money for a job they didn't actually do...
    John Canyon: You two don't get it do you? If you don't take this money and shut up about what happened, they're gonna come after you and you'll disappear! Now, you got to take it!
    Mike Pucci: We "got" to take the money. We "got" to take this, and become company butt boys for the rest of our lives.
    John Canyon: I want to make sure that you understand the facts.
    Mike Pucci: You're gonna take it, John? Are you going to take it?
    John Canyon: No! But I don't want you to end up like me!
    Mike Pucci: God forbid. (throws case out window)
    Saggs: (presses button to detonate case just as case hits limo)
    Briefcase: BOOM
    Heroes: (look out window)
    Mike Pucci: Somebody fragged Saggs.
    John Canyon: You know, I think it was us!
  • Killer Robot: The BMW "cyborgs" with Energy Weapons for heads, Blade Below the Shoulder (in sword, claw, and scissor configurations), and Abnormal Limb Rotation Range allowing them to rotate their neck and compress into a disturbing travel form.
  • Made of Iron: Nabel manages to be the only person to survive a direct upclose attack by a BMV cyborg, and while fatally wounded in a later second attack, still lived long enough to tell John about them.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Nabel. Even before he became a perverse pirate captain with a Crippling Castration obsession, he only manages to be the lesser of two evils compared to Saggs, as he's the man behind the creation of the Nigh-Invulnerable killer robots and doesn't show remorse for the deaths of all the people in the Triton base, soldiers and fellow scientists alike.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Saggs has Nabel build him an army of Killer Robots as a backup plan, in case his negotiations to buy out the Earth government break down. According to Nabel, the robots are activated in waves: 1, 2, 4, 8... Considering what even one of those things can do, it's pretty clear that an army of these things is unstoppable.
  • Mega-Corp: Saggs has enough money and influence to buy out the entire Earth government.
  • Mega-Maw Maneuver: The pirate spaceship has a giant maw that swallows smaller ships.
  • Microwave Misuse: Canyon takes care of a BMW robot by smashing a microwave on its head and turning it on causing its head to get fried before being pushed into the vacuum of space.
  • Mr. Fanservice / Ms. Fanservice: Mike and Cindy respectively when the heightened heating of the damaged Pachyderm forces them to get nearly naked.
  • May–December Romance: Canyon (played by an at the time 60 year old actor) is attracted to Cindy (played by a 32 year old) and gives her a ride to Earth with the promise of getting married, until his Character Development makes him accept that it's not fair and that she and Mike are more in love... but luckily he grows quickly interested in Cindy's mother, who's still a 38 year old Barbara Crampton thanks to her medical Human Popsicle-conservation.
  • No OSHA Compliance: If the glass of the portholes in the Space Diner can be shattered with a simple bullet shot, that place is bound for disaster if micrometeorites come by.
  • One Last Smoke:
    Nabel: Light me.
  • One-Man Army: In the opening, a single BMW cyborg in successive order takes down an armoured vehicle, an outpost, a gunship and at such rapid rate that the scientists believe it merely to be communication problems only for it to stand outside the room and massacre it's way through a heavily-armed security force without so much being slowed.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: The Big Bad ends up buying out the Earth government and privatizing it with him as the new President of Earth.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Cindy briefly manages to fool a few space pirates into thinking she's their captain by just wearing his jacket, hat, sunglasses and cigar... even though she's shorter and lacking his metal peg leg.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: after one of Keller's goons tries to punch Canyon in the face and he dodges it easily:
    John Canyon: No, no, no, no no, Jackie, that's not - that's not the way to throw a punch in zero gravity. See, this is the recommended technique! [Proceeds to Megaton Punch Jackie, causing him to fly across the room into the opposite wall and knocking one of his teeth out].
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Mike is puzzled at the request of having to wear a pink outfit while working for Inter Pork, and Keller simply explains that's the color of the pigs.
  • Single-Task Robot: Mr. Zesty uses an android that looks like an old woman as the keypad to get to his lair. The robot is designed to sit in a bathroom stall and scream and rant at whoever tries to get in the stall until they either leave, or stick their fingers in her mouth and enter the code to activate an elevator to take them to Zesty's lair. This serves as an effective deterrent for both civilians and law enforcement, as anyone who barges in on her is too mortified to suspect the ruse.
  • Space Is Noisy: Despite the film's use of hard sci-fi tropes, everything in space still makes sound.
  • Space Pirate: The protagonists go "off-road" in order to avoid being stopped by the authorities, but end up getting captured by a giant pirate ship which literally swallows them. These pirates were complete with cybernetic false limbs and a skull-and-crossbones flag.
  • Space Police: Police cruisers IN SPACE!, complete with sirens and flashing lights, pursue Canyon's rig until they are called off by the Big Bad.
  • Space Trucker: Since it's the damn title, you can sure bet that it's invoking this trope.
  • Supernaturally Young Parent: Cindy's mother turns out to look Cindy's age because she spent the last few decades as a Human Popsicle due to being terminally ill. Cindy's main goal in the movie is to make enough money to cure her mother. John is instantly smitten with her and forgets all about Cindy (who's fallen for Mike anyway).
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Keller in the Space Diner. At first it seems like his butt plugged up the hole in comedic fashion (He's played by George Wendt after all) but then he folds in half.
    • The surviving space pirates get sucked out into the void when the heroes open the vessel's "maw" to escape.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Nabel. He tells Saggs how the BMW cyborg who just murdered hundreds of employees is only loyal to Saggs who plans to use and a whole army of them to invade Earth, and doesn't expect to be made deniable. Subverted in that Nabel survived the BMW's attack, using cybernetics to heal himself and becomes a pirate.
    • The Reckless Gun Usage of Keller's goons while they're inside pressurized habitats protecting them from the void. The first time the disaster is avoided, but the brawl at the space diner ends in chaos when a bullet shatters a window causing an explosive decompression that gets Keller killed.
  • Two-Faced: Captain Macanudo's face is the most scarred on his left side.
  • Used Future: Very much so.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    Saggs: If I could, I'd promote you on the spot. But I'm afraid all this has to be deniable. Which means you have to be deniable.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: Mike roasts several robots at once, while John lures them to the outside of the ship.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: The Mad Scientist that created the killer robots was betrayed by turning his creations against him. Fortunately he was able to rebuild himself, turning into a grotesque mish-mash of man and machine, later taking up a new life as a pirate.
  • We Will Spend Credits in the Future: Credits are the currency in this future, as we learn during Canyon's arguing about his payment with Keller.
  • Xenomorph Xerox: The BMW robots resemble tall, heavily armed mechanical Xenomorphs without tail.


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