Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
May 12, 2024 12:27 PM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] A farm boy recruits a band of outlaws to save the planet Akir from forces that threaten to wipe them out from the face of the universe. A battle stretching beyond the stars begins here.

After the passing of Roger Corman, I realized my favorite of his movies isn't represented here. Easily the best retelling of the Seven Samurai, its $2 million USD budget made it the then most expensive movie to come out of New World Pictures.

Several now well-known Hollywood figures cut their teeth on this movie - James Cameron, hired as a model maker, became production supervisor, while James Horner scored the film (his third).

The cast includes Richard Thomas (then still known as "John Boy" from "The Waltons"), George Peppard (post-"Banacek", pre-"A-Team"), Robert Vaughn, and John Saxon.

Currently sitting at 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. JustWatch link.
posted by hanov3r (13 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The pre-battle scene where the group is sitting around the Kelvin (who speak in degrees of heat) instead of a campfire, while someone plays a lonesome harmonica, remains a favorite memory for me.

My sister and I saw this movie in the theatre not long after it came out. We were the only ones in the theater at that time.

It's great fun.
posted by Archer25 at 1:26 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]

You left out Sybil Danning!
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:33 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]

its $2 million USD budget made it the then most expensive movie to come out of New World Pictures.

But Corman got his money’s worth out of it. Those ship models and effects shots got reused more than the Wilhelm scream. I swear to God, if you look hard enough, there’s probably one of those starship models somewhere in Schindler’s List.
posted by Naberius at 7:34 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]

You left out Sybil Danning

I made sure to include her in the tags!

There's a scene involving a camera pan up her costume that definitely had an impact on teenage hanov3r.
posted by hanov3r at 10:44 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]

I keep this mentally separated from Starcrash by thinking of it as "the one with the starship with boobs on it."
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:26 AM on May 13

When I was a kid, this was greater than Star Wars in my mind. I loved this film and have a crystal clear memory of watching it for the first time. It isn't a great film but watching it even now I always find it an inspired creation (Robert Vaughn playing essentially the same character as he does in the Magnificent Seven? Genius). And I'm pretty sure I had seen Magnificent Seven before this so it was also the first realisation of how films could be interconnected as a kid.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:25 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]

I don't know how I didn't mention it when the 2018 remake of The Magnificent Seven hit Fanfare but James Horner scored that one, as well, and there are motifs in that score that come straight out of his score for BBtS.
posted by hanov3r at 8:33 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]

Robert Vaughn AND John Saxon??? If they were both bad guys, their side should have won.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 9:25 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]

I remember going to see this in the theater on my 13th birthday. Good times.
posted by adamrice at 1:55 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

Screenplay by John Sayles!? How did I not know that before now? I don't think I've ever watched BBTS all the way through, but guess I will now. Sayles doesn't get mentioned often in lists of directors like Scorsese, Coppola and Bogdanovich who got an early boost from Corman, but he should:

Sayles began his film career working with Roger Corman. In 1979, Sayles used $30,000 he earned writing scripts for Corman to fund his first film, Return of the Secaucus 7. To make the film on a limited budget, he set the film in a large house so that he did not have to travel to or get permits for different locations, set the story over a three-day weekend to limit costume changes, and wrote about people his age so he could cast his friends in it.

Sounds like he learned from the master well lol. There's more from Sayles about Corman, and about Battle Beyond The Stars particularly, in this interview I just found:

With your Seven Samurai in Space movie, how much of the classic Kurosawa film could you sneak into it?

JS: Actually it’s a meditation on death. I didn’t tell Roger Corman that. I had a theme to go through it to help keep it together and that was the Seven Samurai story. What was fun about those movies is they could be very allegorical and fun at the same time.

MN: The Battle Beyond the Stars was a Star Wars ripoff, right?

JS: It was definitely made because Star Wars was popular. Just as Piranha was a spinoff of Jaws. We did a lot of movies like that. One of the things Corman did that was very intelligent: he tested the market with titles. If people had liked the title he made the film. He had already made a movie called Battle Beyond the Sun and whenever he tested audiences with the title Battle Beyond the Stars people always said, yeah I wanna see that movie. It was more of a title searching for a movie than a movie searching for a title.

The story about Corman getting mad and firing a bunch of folks and putting James Cameron in charge of the art department is fun too.
posted by mediareport at 6:21 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

"Those ship models and effects shots got reused more than the Wilhelm scream." demonstrated by The Bad Movie Bible, here's that shot in situ. Every in situ.
posted by ewan at 8:47 AM on May 14

ewan, that YouTube link is broken (missing the v=XXXXX parameter that says what video to show).
posted by hanov3r at 9:14 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

This must be the video in question: The Most Re-used Shot in Cinema? It's a starfighter zooming across space that gets used in 8 other schlocky scifi films. Skip to 2:07 for the fun bit.
posted by mediareport at 6:58 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]

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