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The latest in a series of writers recommending under-appreciated films available to stream highlights a schlocky late 70s Star Wars rip-off

When the Emperor of the First Circle of the Universe (that is, Christopher Plummer, in a patent leather suit beneath silver armor, a cape and oven mitt-like gloves) wants to calm his worried son (David Hasselhoff) during a climactic moment, he steps forward amid a room full of warriors and slain robots and bellows: Imperial Battleship stop the flow of time!!!

It is an apogee of trash brilliance unrivaled anywhere else in the galaxy.

The Star Wars big bang created a universe that is still expanding, but never was the fiery scream of that first eruption felt more furiously than in the late 1970s. Producers far and wide hitched their fortunes to the Millennium Falcons hyperdrive, to varying measures of financial and artistic success.

It got Star Trek (the far superior of the two franchises) back into business, with the curiously terrific Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979 and begat Battlestar Galactica in 1978, Flash Gordon in 1980 and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century in 1979.

But these are the more respectable titles. On the lower budget shelf came Battle Beyond the Stars (penned on assignment by John Sayles), Galaxina (starring Playboy playmate Dorothy Stratten) and one of the all-time pieces of junk, Italys Cosmos: War of the Planets.

In the middle of all this is something that demands further study. Mixing low-budget schlock with genuine design brilliance is Starcrash. Produced at Romes Cinecitt Studios in 1978 and distributed by Roger Cormans New World Pictures, Starcrash was directed and co-written by future Dario Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi (credited as Lewis Coates)

In addition to Plummer (only in a few scenes, whispering his ludicrous lines with a true thespians straight face) and Hasselhoff (dashing, and wielding a cheapo green lightsaber) is a nervous police robot with a wacky American Southern drawl, a goon named Thor with green makeup on his face (but not his neck), and the real reason this movie is as remembered as it is: Caroline Munro.

Munro, already known for appearing in Hammer Studio films, the Ray Harryhausen Golden Voyage of Sinbad and as Bond villainess Naomi in The Spy Who Loved Me, is Stella Star, a bikini clad smuggler with Patrick Nagel-like makeup and eternally blown-out hair. Though her voiced is dubbed by Candy Clark (Plummer referred to her accent as one you could coot with a fookin knife when I asked him about Starcrash in a recent interview), her charisma still blasts through the screen. Yes, it is absurd that all the men are wearing spacesuits or typical high fantasy gowns, but she wears her various skintight, fabric-light outfits with confidence and verve. She is a vision of vertices, a striking image on her own, but even more so against the primary colors of the various interplanetary interiors and spaceship bridges of the film.

At her side is Akton, played by former child preacher (and subject of an Academy Award-winning documentary feature) Marjoe Gortner. Resembling a lovechild of poultry magnate Frank Purdue and Foreigners Lou Gramm during his Jukebox Hero peak, Gortner is a baffling pick as a leading man, but he does have access to cool, neon-like laser magic and a red-and-black rubbery outfit.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/apr/13/starcrash-david-hasselhoff-film-amazon-prime

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