Battle Beyond the Stars


‘…there’s a degree of knowing wit in the dialogue that makes Battle Beyond the Stars a guilty pleasure…’

‘I eat serpent seven times a week’ says Gelt (Robert Vaughn), in one of a number of quotable lines from Roger Corman’s Star Wars rip-off Battle Beyond the Stars. There’s a certain logic to Corman’s thinking here; if Star Wars knocked off Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, then why not rip of Seven Samurai?

Sure, The Magnificent Seven already Westernised that classic text, but why not lean into it and have characters like Cowboy (George Peppard) and to take things further, get Robert Vaughn back and have him say the same dialogue he did in John Sturges’s film?  John Sayles was the screenwriter charged with sorting out the conceptual issues, and presumably his writing process involved being locked in a room with the script for Magnificent Seven, Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces and a massive lump of cheese, because cheesy action is what results.

Richard Thomas is Shad, a young farmer dispatched to put together a group of mercenaries to defend his home planet against despot Sador (John Saxon). The team he puts together include various oddities like a lizard man, bald twins and a Valkyrie, played by the voluptuous Sybil Danning in costumes which make Caroline Munro in Starcrash look positively demure.

With a James Horner score and James Cameron on effects, Battle Beyond The Stars has quite a pedigree, and the talent bring their A-game to this B movie. Jimmy T Murakami directs, so what do we talk about when we talk about Battle Beyond The Stars? Spaceship interiors seeming made of plasticine, planets made of candy-floss; it’s a strange universe to explore in low-budget cinema, but there’s a degree of knowing wit in the dialogue that makes Battle Beyond the Stars a guilty pleasure.


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  1. I found it on YouTube and played it at double-speed to cut the 100-minute run time to just 50. It felt like the music from Star Trek: Search for Spock, the special effects of Battlestar Galactica, and the plot of the A-Team. I’m glad I got to see it. But I’m also glad I didn’t see it in theaters. Richard Thomas as “Shad” – that character name should have been warning enough… thanks for the recommendation / review!

  2. For anyone else’s info:
    The Space Cowboy smokes spaces cigarettes, drinks space scotch and eats space hotdogs. And plays what I assume is a space harmonica.

    That’s what I’m talking about!

  3. Whenever I seeing Danning’s name on a movie now, I am half decided against it already. Not because she’s bad but because she is inevitably in the kind of costume that I try to avoid seeing.

    But I am seriously tempted because of the presence of a literal Space Cowboy in the group. How can a movie like with that be bad?

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