Mystery Science Theater 3000: STARCRASH
May 17, 2017 5:49 PM - Season 11, Episode 6 - Subscribe

"From a vast and distant galaxy... a Space Adventure for all Time!" Clothes-adverse, redundantly-named smuggler Stella Star, her Magic Space Friend Akton, and Robo-Yosemite Sam are called by Emperor Plummer to his grand Starship Kitbash, to entrust them with the search for both a huge space weapon and his lost young Prince Hasselhoff, from among the haunted theme worlds of the colored-bulb cosmos. Some people really like this movie (Better than Star Wars?) but you can't deny it's remarkably ridiculous, even by this show's standards. It's even had its own MeFi post! Also unusual for MST3K is an exceptionally high-powered cameo, by Joel's friend Jerry Seinfeld, as investor Freak Masterstroke. And of considerable interest to MSTies is the fact that former Brains Bill Corbett, Mary Jo Pehl and Paul Chaplin helped write this one! Episode 1106 is available for viewing on Netflix.

Episode 1106 STARCRASH

MST Discussion Board thread - MST3K Wikia

Rotten Tomatoes (Critics 33%, Viewers 40%) - Wikipedia
IMDB (1978, 3.9 stars)
"An outlaw smuggler and her alien companion are recruited by the Emperor of the Galaxy to rescue his son and destroy a secret weapon by the evil Count Zarth Arn."
Directed by Luigi Cozzi. Written by Luigi Cozzi, Nat Wachberger and R.A. Dillon. Starring Marjoe Gortner, Caroline Munro, Christopher Plummer, Joe Spinell, and--yes--David Hasselhoff.

There's a couple of cool during-movie songs in the early going, Servo's "Space Church," and an actual musical number by Jonah and the 'bots in the style, I hear, of the early Beach Boys.

The general fan reaction I've seen is actually a little down on this episode. I think it's because Starcrash actually has a reputation for being a really fun bad movie (we've used it multiple times in the Club as pre-roll material!), and for once the riffers seem a bit outdone by the movie itself. But it's okay, you can enjoy the movie both ways!

There is something I personally take issue with, however, and it's a few of the cuts the editors chose to make for the MST version. Not only do they excise the ludicrous French opening crawl (although I have to wonder if that's not just a thing in the YouTube version), and the opening Star Wars-esque slow pan of the spaceship "Murray Leinster" (a weird literary shout-out), they also remove a few of perky Stella's more bewildering proclamations. "Full speed!" "We have?!" Say what you will about the Gee Whiz earnestness of a young Mark Hamill in Star Wars, it can't match Caroline Munro's enthusiasm. Alas, they took out those brief moments, but they left in what must be nearly a minute of Akton playing around with his energy thingy. I tell you what, kids these days.

And then there's Christopher Plummer, who I hear was on set for one day. If Harrison Ford complained about Lucas' script, one must wonder what Plummer's opinion must have been of his few lines. Still, it is he who gets to utter the movie's signature phrase: "Imperial battleship... HALT THE FLOW OF TIME!"
posted by JHarris (25 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I really liked this episode. This movie is a perfect fit - it makes no sense, but it looks good, and is energetic.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:24 PM on May 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

The whole series of names for the individual spaceships is definitely my favorite bit from this episode.

In terms of the film itself, I can never get over how much the music (by God Among Composers John Barry) is so many leagues above everything else in this movie. It really almost gets you to give a damn about Akton during his death scene. That's talent.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:33 PM on May 17, 2017 [6 favorites]

It is hard to phone it in harder than Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow did in Avalanche, but Plummer managed to do so here. Kudos to you, sir, for your total lack of giving a shit.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:40 PM on May 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

Poor Akton. The downside of having the vague power to do whatever the plot needs is what happens when the plot no longer needs you.
posted by ckape at 6:59 PM on May 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Starcrash brings me so much joy. I love it to pieces.

I am well acquainted with its flaws, which are deep and numerous, and yet I feel nothing but gleeful indulgence watching it. Which I have done many times.

This is how I know my love for Starcrash to be a true and pure love.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 7:25 PM on May 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

I actually was so stunned that Christopher Plummer did this that I looked into it, and Plummer basically did a Michael Caine: he basically saw the movie as a free trip to Rome.

"[G]ive me Rome any day. I'll do porno in Rome, as long as I can get to Rome. Getting to Rome was the greatest thing that happened in that for me. I think it was only about three days in Rome on that one. It was all shot at once."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 PM on May 17, 2017 [10 favorites]

David Hasselhoff has the Orson Wells in The Third Man role in this film. (By which I mean you're like 2/3 in and you're like, wait, isn't Orson Welles in this?)

I have to assume that the costuming was done by a huge fan of Vampira, but I have no real explanation for the weird robot sidekick and his accent.

Also: Believe it or not, I'm not William Kaaaaat... was priceless.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:12 PM on May 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm just going to go ahead and assume that Interstellar's TARS was inspired by Elle
posted by ckape at 12:32 AM on May 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I really had the feeling that Plummer's final speech was improvised (slightly drunkenly, presumably).

And speaking of slightly drunk Christopher Plummer performances, I was…well, not expecting, but hoping for, a Skyrim riff from Jonah and the bots. Too deep a nerd cut, I suppose.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:28 AM on May 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

I can't imagine what the producers of Starcrash were trying to achieve, especially after 1977.

"Well, we were trying to go for Star Wars, but instead we got unsexy Barbarella."

"So how do you want to edit this thing? Exquisite Corpse?"

"Yeah, let's do Exquisite Corpse."

Some of the riffing was pretty good, though: " have a heavily armed warship, and I have a sword-gun designed by Prince..."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:44 AM on May 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

Is it wrong to want an action figure of the robot?
posted by drezdn at 10:28 AM on May 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

MST Club's showing is tonight (Thursday), at The schedule and episodes showing are:

9 PM ET/6 PM PT: 705 ESCAPE 2000

Probably won't have an after episode show (at 11/8 PM) tonight, or if we do I probably will be afk for most of it. Still have lots of work to do.
posted by JHarris at 12:07 PM on May 18, 2017

The important...thing. everyone must...SPEAK....very...poyentiously.

Seriously, if people just spoke normally, the film would be 40 minutes shorter.
posted by happyroach at 4:21 PM on May 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

If they removed the shots of spaceship flying past, the movie would immediately end.
posted by JHarris at 6:32 PM on May 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just like Star Trek: The Motion Picture!
posted by Chrysostom at 7:38 PM on May 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I watched Starcrash independently of this episode, and I think it's an awesome movie. The stuff they did with what was obviously a low budget is very impressive, and the Sci-Fi world (if muddled and silly) is at least interesting.

Anyway, regarding MST3K:11, I thought this was one of the first really funny episodes of the season.
posted by codacorolla at 7:57 PM on May 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Okay guys, Ilana had problems with her internet connection, and generally it seems like we could take it again, so I am announcing that we are going to try to have another showing of 1106 STARCRASH!

We don't know when yet. It would be a good time not only to get in a time Ilana can make (since she cannot make the next two regular showings) but also maybe find a time that others (Chrysostom, Room 641-A, etc) might be able to attend.

If you're interested in watching with us, please tell us here as soon as you can, when would be the best times for you?
posted by JHarris at 9:10 PM on May 18, 2017

I'm usually available from 10 pm ET. But please do NOT schedule based on me, that is not necessary. I make it when I can!
posted by Chrysostom at 10:10 PM on May 18, 2017

It's a one-time thing Chrysostom, so no worries. Let's see what other people would like.
posted by JHarris at 10:38 PM on May 18, 2017

This movie would have probably made a decent french comic book in the 80's that we could later read in english in Heavy Metal magazine. I don't hate the movie either, its totally the kind of thing I would have stayed up late to watch and half-membered in the morning.

Solid riffing, I'm pretty impressed with the new series so far. The songs were were probably my favourite bits.
posted by rodlymight at 6:34 PM on May 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

This episode is a tough sell for me. On the one hand, I have loved this movie since 1980, and I know pretty much every line, and I know it's dead center in the MST3K wheelhouse. On the other hand, I have done my own riffs, so anybody else's writing is going to be very much a hit or miss exercise.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:52 PM on May 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Between this one and the next two choices, I'm really noticing the quality of the prints compared to previous seasons. It's not entirely fair, since Starcrash is the most modern one they've chosen so far, but The Land that Time Forgot practically explodes off the screen in full color.
posted by Think_Long at 7:21 AM on May 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I had never seen Starcrash before, and I had a tough time with this episode. Not so much the the MST3K aspect (plenty of good riffing) but the source material itself. I can handle low budget cheese, I can handle good actors totally slumming it, but the unabashed-yet-incoherent attempt to rip off Star Wars was apparently some kind of last straw for me. Also, the multicolor christmas light starfields bug me all out of proportion.

(I know I'll like it better with further rewatching.)
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 9:30 AM on May 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I apologize, everyone. My Internet was down for four days and I had a terrible weekend with that plus several other apartment-related disasters. After burning my entire weekend to talk to my service provider and clean my apartment while waiting for a tech to come in, nobody could figure out what was wrong, and then on a suggestion from my husband (from 2000 miles away) I replaced the modem, which actually fixed it. Seriously, argh, what a waste of time.

I will eventually see this movie and take a picture of my name in the credits! Sorry I couldn't help organize a repeat showing for my benefit. :(
posted by ilana at 7:59 PM on May 22, 2017

Aaah the modem! Those things are horrible. I think I have too much on my plate between now and Thursday to organize an extra showing, work is piling up again, alas, sorry.
posted by JHarris at 8:41 AM on May 23, 2017

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