Message from Space, Starcrash, The Black Hole, Starchaser, Krull, Spacehunter, H.G. Wells The Shape of Things to Come, The Last Starfighter, Laserblast, Galaxina, Star Odyssey, The Man Who Saved the World, and then we have...Battle Beyond the Stars. Another in a long line of Star Wars rip-offs during the 70's and 80's. Actually a rather quality, fun watch. A good smattering of classic acting talent. One of the better films which Corman made, IMO. Seen it about 5 times. Launched the career of James Cameron. Give it a shot!
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Star Wars on a budget!
Bill W. Dalton | Santa Ana, CA USA | 02/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Would you believe a spaceship with breasts? There's one in this 1980 Roger Corman space opera! The spaceship has a female computer personality named Nell and a decidedly feminine shape, which includes two enormous breast-like mounds on its underside. Since there is no nudity in this movie, which is unusual in a Corman film, he had to get the breasts in somewhere, so model designer/builder/art director James Cameron put them on the space craft! Very amusing indeed! Cameron went on to design bigger and better things, like the Titanic.Battle Beyond the Stars was the biggest-budgeted movie Corman had ever made up to that time, about 2 million dollars, and his money is up there on the screen, with good sets, good props, good special effects, and a good cast. In typical Corman fashion everything except the cast was used over and over again in other space sagas he made. Waste not, want not! is his credo, and he boasts that he's never lost a dime on any of his movies. I believe it.The plot of this movie was stolen shamelessly from Akira Kurosawa's classic Seven Samurai, so if you liked that Japanese epic and its American remake, The Magnificent Seven, you should like Battle Beyond the Stars, too. It just goes to show that if you have to steal a story, you might as well steal a great one!The cast includes Richard Thomas, just out of his John-Boy of The Waltons role, as a poor man's Luke Skywalker recruiting mercenaries George Peppard, Robert Vaughn, Marta Kristen, and Sybil Danning, among others, to fight the evil conqueror Sador, played by John Saxon, always a good villain.Never one to miss a trend, or start one, Corman cashed in on the phenomenal success of Star Wars with Battle Beyond the Stars. It's a fun film and I recommend this DVD widescreen edition. There's interesting commentaries by Gale Anne Hurd, John Sayles and Roger Corman, movie trailers, biographies, trivia game, scene index -- but the usual Corman filmography booklet is absent here."
Zowie, the fun of Star Wars on a small budget
Darren Harrison | Washington D.C. | 02/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Great memories accompany this movie for me, thankfully the producers of this DVD have honored this production with a jam-packed feature full of special features. I was not even a teenager when this movie was released back in 1980 yet a group of friends and I made the pilgrimage to a local cinema to see it. With an interesting set of diverse characters the movie plays as a science fiction version of the Seven Samurai. A "Magnificent Seven in Space" as it were, it even features Robert Vaughn of that 60s gem. The real pleasure of the DVD however is the wealth of special features. We not only have one optional audio commentary, but two very informative pieces. There are preview trailers for other Corman productions such as "Piranha". We even get a trivia game. I certainly recommend this movie."
Don't laugh: This is a grass-roots classic.
D. Mok | Los Angeles, CA | 04/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What allows Battle Beyond the Stars to transcend its low budget, simple special effects and infinitely recycled plot? The most important aspect of filmmaking: Ideas.This was one [heck] of a smart script. No surprise, since the writer is John Sayles, a screenwriter of impeccable literary sense. The dialogue of this film crackles better than most big-budget films I've seen, and as a result Darlanne Fluegel (as innocent maiden Nanelia), Robert Vaughn (ice-cool mercenary Gelt), Sybil Danning (who steals the show as dashing, comically busty Valkyr warrior Saint-Exmin), Earl Boen (as lead drone Nestor) and George Peppard (as Space Cowboy) all shine, having a field day with the incredibly brisk pace and economical character interactions. And there's great comic material here, which is like an amplification of the gently sardonic tone of Seven Samurai, the obvious ancestor of this film.The richness of Sayles' conception of this world just draws you in -- even more so, I would argue, than Star Wars, because the depth of the philosophical implications behind the details is phenomenal. The "Facets" of Nestor, the on-the-run nihilism of Gelt the mercenary, and the communicative dilemma of the Kelvin -- it all points to very real human needs and psychological desires, hidden behind the comic-book action and tongue-in-cheek tone. Revel, as well, in the amount of attention paid to the design: Talking spaceship "Nell" is in the shape of a giant woman's body; the stingray menace of Gelt's ship; the different kinds of "hum" that each character's vehicle produces. Shows what you can do even with little money if you put some thought into it.Though it doesn't have the mystique of Star Wars -- whose amalgamation of chivalric romance and science fiction created a new sub-culture -- Battle Beyond the Stars deserves applause for overcoming its humble origins. And for all of the rich background, it's one of the fastest-moving science-fiction films I've ever seen. Dig in if you've never seen it; celebrate it again if you have."
I hate to disagree, but...
email@example.com | Boston, MA. USA | 05/12/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Actually, I don't disagree with most of the comments. The extras are great (especially the commentary, although Gale Anne Hurd has a tendency, at least in the beginning, to drop little nuggets of information without any context), and it's great to have this film in widescreen HOWEVER, whomever was raving about the transfer need to wipe the dust off of their TV! It's not that it's bad, it's too good. So good that you can see every scratch and fleck of dust on whatever lousy 21-year-old print they used to master this puppy. If they were going to put in the time to make this disc, at least they could have struck a new print for the transfer."
Corman's magnum opus
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 03/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Have you ever heard of the term "unintended consequences"? I first heard of this phrase in an economics course at the university. It deals, of course, with the unseen and often harmful results of any given financial policy or action. I would now like to extend the term beyond economics into the realm of films, specifically George Lucas's "Star Wars" and the unintended consequences its release inflicted on unwary moviegoers. No one can dispute the greatness of "Star Wars" or its effect on the world of science fiction filmmaking. We still see the influence of this epic today. At the time, however, Lucas's marvel inspired a slew of low budget clunkers desperately trying to cash in on the popularity of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo. Movies like "The Shape of Things to Come" were so hilariously awful in every aspect of their execution that one could have understood if Lucas issued a public apology for indirectly inspiring such tripe. But, and this is a big but, a few films emerged that were entertaining even if they did rip off "Star Wars." Or "The Magnificent Seven," for that matter. Welcome to Roger Corman's "Battle Beyond the Stars."
In a galaxy far, far away we meet an evil tyrant named Sador (John Saxon) zipping around the stars conquering planets with a weapon called the stellar converter. Actually, he seems to enjoy destroying worlds with this weapon when the citizens attempt to defy his will. His most recent excursion takes him to a planet of peaceful folks who simply can't understand why someone would knock on their door and threaten them. One of the residents, a headstrong youth called Shad (Richard Thomas), offers to fly the planet's sole battleship into space in order to marshal an army to defeat this evil dictator. It's laughable, really, but Shad is too young to realize exactly what he's up against. Off he goes in the ship, with Nell the talking computer in tow, to find his warriors. The first half of the movie deals solely with Shad's encounters with the various characters who will join him. For example, he enlists the services of a bored human arms merchant named Cowboy (George Peppard), the sexy, headstrong Saint-Exmin (Sybil Danning), some lizard guy, a group of clones called Nestors, and a pair of goofy creatures called Kelvins because they can use heat as a weapon. There's also a morose outlaw by the name of Gelt (Robert Vaughn) who joins the fight to make up for some of the bad things he's done in his life. You get the idea.
The second half of the movie kicks into high gear as this ragtag team of galactic miscreants challenges Sador and his malformed minions to a rip-roaring fight. The baddies basically laugh their heads off at these upstarts until they realize these guys play for keeps. Sador thus decides to land an attack squad on Shad's planet (the name of which is Aker or Okra, something like that) while simultaneously trying to fend off the attack in space. Predictably, most of our heroes won't survive the resulting conflagration, but that's the point of the movie (or "The Magnificent Seven" and "Stars Wars"). That a bunch of hardened, totally at odds races can band together to confront a common enemy in defense of a pacifistic people is the idea at the core of the movie. Well, that and a whole lotta cheese. "Battle Beyond the Stars" is one of the cheesiest films I've ever seen, and that's saying something. Richard Thomas as a space hero? Space valkyries? A villain with a birthmark the size of Montana on his face? What's going on here? Simple: it's Roger Corman at his plagiaristic best. Give Corman a check for twenty-five bucks and he'll make a movie. I'm pretty sure "Battle Beyond the Stars" cost more than a couple of sawbucks, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Fortunately, "Battle Beyond the Stars" contains plenty of action, the sort of do or die dialogue every action film ought to have, and Sybil Danning in an outfit that must have sent the young pre-teen males in the audience into a dither--or therapy. It's got Julia Duffy in a small role as Mol, Shad's little sister. It's got a spaceship shaped like a well-endowed woman. And it's got veteran B-movie actor John Saxon on high camp autopilot as Sador, complete with heavy pancake makeup and a tendency to use others' body parts to replace his own failing limbs. Even as my sides ached from laughing I couldn't help but like this movie. Sure, it's adolescent and simplistic, but it's also great fun to see this many B-movie stars in one movie. The only SERIOUS problem I had with the film concerned Nell, the talking computer on Shad's spaceship. There hasn't been a cool talking computer since HAL in "2001," and I wish movies would quit trying to come up with one. Aside from that niggling complaint, and with full awareness that this is a breathtakingly cheesy film, Corman's flick is rather enjoyable.
The DVD throws plenty of extras our way. Two commentary tracks enlighten us about the film's pedigree, namely how John Sayles wrote the script and how James Cameron built the props. Filmographies, a trailer, a trivia game, and trailers for "Saint Jack," "Suburbia," "Piranha," and "Fire on the Amazon" round out the supplements. Say what you will about schlock science fiction knockoffs, but you've got to appreciate a film that has George Peppard bantering with an alien race about the ingredients found in hotdogs, wouldn't you say? A must see for cheese lovers. "