|STARCRASH * THE ROBINSKI REVIEW
When I saw stills of this movie back in 1979, I thought someone had finally made a film just for me. It had spaceships, and robots and something that Star Wars didn't have: Caroline Munro. I waited in vain for its appearance at the cinema. It turned up on TV one afternoon in the beginning of 1985. Well, it was nearly the film I had been waiting for. Overall, it's got everything a b-movie addict can want: ambitious, but not-very-successful visual effects, lots of dreadful dialogue (some of it painfully recited by actors who are clearly in a situation they do not care for), some evidence of bad cutting, and a number of very attractive young women, principally, the said Miss Munro, as Stella Star.
In the English speaking version, alas, they saw fit to dub an American accent over her, which is a great pity ( I have no problems with American accents per se - but Caroline is so English). The DVD also offers a choice of French or Italian, and the French version (even for non-French speakers, such as myself) is preferable. Stella's voice is light and playful, and the robot, instead of the 'amusing' cowboy voice in the English language version, talks in mournful, echoey tones, which works very well.
Caroline Munro, although playing the central character, gets rather sidelined throughout the proceedings; however, she has two scenes in the first part of the story in which the action revolves around her, and if the rest of the movie had been fashioned this way, it would have been a lot more enjoyable. Her skirmish with a tribe of amazons makes for a very exciting sequence. Inexplicably, but stunningly clad in a shiny black bikini, and thigh length boots, she dominates this sequence. It's a shame that an important section of it, in which the amazons attach her to a mind-probe device, was deleted because of film exposure problems. The film is, unfortunately, full of little holes where a prop or effect has been abandoned at the last minute, and a build-up is all for nothing.
Seek out one of the early drafts on the script (tucked away on the DVD set, if you dig deep enough), to get some idea of what might have been, had not the production been plagued with misfortune.
The score by John Barry is great, and merits listening to just as a piece of music.
There are several ways to enjoy this movie. Pick out the bits you like, and leave the rest; look on it as a latter-day Flash Gordon Serial-style entertainment (it does rattle along at breakneck speed when it gets going), and forget all about logic, and literacy, and the rules of storytelling; laugh your head off at the hammy dialogue, and the actors (Christopher Plummer, in a role he's trying to forget while he's actually playing it) in trouble.
I like Starcrash for two reasons. Caroline Munro is one of them. The other is the fact that Luigi Cozzi wanted to make the movie he'd always wanted to see. He'd written the script before Star Wars came out, and it was only pressure from the studio that made him imitate elements of that film. Conversely, it was budget restraints and studio disputes that hampered his efforts.
Ultimately, the most appealing shot of Caroline Munro - and it's a crying shame that she wasn't in many, many more movies - is near the end, in which Stella Star is swimming through space, and we get a close-up of her very beautiful smile through the visor of her helmet. It kind of makes you feel better, just looking at her.