|STAR RIDERS * THE OFFICIAL UNMADE SEQUEL
Taken from the 'Things to Come' report of the 1979 Cannes Film Festival
in STARBURST MAGAZINE, vol 1 no 12
Sci-fi finally made the headlines with the news of a $12 million sequel project about stella starr- before we ve seen her first adventure in britain, starcrash. The new venture is star riders. The mixture is the same as before. Only better - which is what they all say about sequels. Starcrash has already staggered both Roger Corman and his New World Pictures outfit by turning out to be their biggest grossing movie (around the $16 million mark) to date. Odd then, that Roger has let the inevitable sequel escape to the brand new tie-up of the israeli Golan-Globus combine and the New York distribution outlet, Cannon.
This strange marriage, which gives the ailing Cannon group a shot in the arm, and more important for the Israeli's, provides them with their own US distribution shop, was the first big movie trade headline of the festival. The new partners announced a flock of films; new Israeli product, including Menahem Golan's version of Nobel Prizewinner Isaac Bashevis Singers jewish fantasy The Magician of Lublin (in which Alan Arkin believes he can fly) and parochial Tel Aviv rubbish like Going Steady and My Mother the Genera - plus Canon's library of old fodder, including a very early Robert De Niro film, The Swap, and promised sequels to Cannon's first hits, Joe and The Happy Hooker. And that seemed to be that, until the final week of the festival , when the new partners flew Caroline Munro in to announce the big, new Stella Starr movie, to be made in Hollywood, Rome, Bangkok and London.
Caroline Munro, waltzing around for photographers in purple tights, said she was thrilled to be playing Stella again - a kind of Barbarella, italian style. Her husband, American actor Judd Hamilton, seemed similarly happy to be stuck inside the robot El again too. Lewis Coates (alias Luigi Cozzi) will, naturally, be directing once more.
His line producers this time around will be David Winters (who directed Kirk Douglas' Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde tv movie ; he was also a creative consultant on The Island of Dr Moreau) and Alan Roberts, whose previous credentials include Scream Bloody Murder, Panorama Blue and Young Lady Chatterly. In concert together, Winters and Roberts made the tennis comedy Raquet, bolstered in Cannes by the visit of Bjorn Borg. He spent longer at his photo call (ten minutes, perhaps) than he does in their film.
However, the real coup behind Star Riders belongs not to the new Israeli-USA combine, nor to the line producers, but to Cozzi, director Lewis Coates, himself. Hes written the story for the film - and hes persuaded veteran sf author A E Van Vogt to tackle the screenplay.
This means Roger Corman has lost out again..Corman's New World firm is about to film Van Vogt' Computerworld. But Van Vogt is liable to stick with Cozzi-cum-Coates, in future. They re old pals. When he was 13, Coates started Italy's first sf magazine and by 1965 he was translating various American sf authors into Italian. Eventually, he became editor and agent for such authors as Murray Leinster, Hugo Gernsback and...A E Van Vogt. And with Gernsback's blessing, Coates also created the Italian version of the Hugo Awards.
Coates started in movies as an assistant director to Dario Argento and later directed several of his own scripts under the Argento aegis. In 1976, he directed Dedicato a una Stella (Dedicated to a Star) , also known as Stella, Hanging on a Star, and The Last Concert, with Richard Johnson and Pamela Villoresi. Two years ago, Coates teamed up with his special effects pal Armando Valcauda, to introduce the Stella Starr character in Empire of the Stars. Shooting began in mid-1977 and was completed last year-with the new title Starcrash. Thats how this particular Star was born.
Now she's being re-born, with the assistance of Manitoba's A E Van Vogt. Author of more than 45 books (with sales beyond 50,000,000 worldwide ). Van Vogt has picked up just about every sf honour going, from the '79 literature award of the American Academy of Science Fiction to the Ann Radcliffe Literature Award in 1968 from the Count Dracula Society.
Star Riders, says Coates, is a tale of adventure and intrigue, revolution and romance, magic and fantasy. "It's peopled with characters who are bigger than life: beautiful heroines, brave heroes, evil villains, metal robots and monstrous mutants. They live, love, and fight in a world of distant stars and planets of the medieval future."
Caroline Munro, alias Stella Starr, number one space fighter pilot in Coates' galaxy, has just never had it so good. After numerous small parts in a variety of fantasy films with Peter Cushing, Christoper Lee, Donald Pleasance, and James Bond (At the Earth's Core, The Devil Within her, Dracula AD 1972, Captain Kronos, Dr Phibes, Phibes Rises Again, Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and The Spy Who Loved Me), she's now come of international age. The Windsor-born, Brighton-raised model-cum-actress is seen all over Britain as the Lamb's Navy Rum girl on giant hoardings...and she's just been selected to replace Farrah Fawcett-Majors as the Noxema girl in American tv commercials and posters.
In between posing for global lenses, and various tv interviews at Cannes, she revealed some-but just some- of the new Stella Starr adventure. "With Judd as my comical robot sidekick, El, we have a new mission. To help Baslim, a faithful officer in a dead king's army, to unravel a mysterious plot of assassination and deceit-and save the life of a beautiful young princess and restore to the throne a young man who doesn't even know he's a prince."
Shooting, she added, begins in November.
"The film should be delivered by October, 1980"
The others cast thus far include the dwarf actor Torbin and Nancy Kwan as the evil queen of the planet Pearl. With her kung-fu space warriors, she's due to battle Stella Starr to the death.
My money's on Stella.
More vital casting, of course, concerns the special effects. Once again, Luigi Cozzi/Lewis Coates has pulled off a coup. As well as his mate, Armando Valcauda, who supplied the effects for Starcrash and The Humanoid, Coates has signed up veteran Jack Rabin, who's worked on more than 200 movies since beginning his career with the Selznick studios in 1927. After toiling for Fox and Warner Brothers in the '30s and '40s, Jack set up his own outfit in 1947, starting with I Killed Geronimo a,d The Spiritualist. His other movies include: Rocketship X-M, Unknown World, Invasion USA, Night of the Hunter (the only film Charles Laughton directed), The 30ft Bride of Candy Rock, Cat-women of the Moon, Viking Women and the Sea Serpent, War of the Satellites, The Giant Behemoth, Outpost in Space, and Mike Todd's Around the World in 80 Days.
Yet again, Roger Corman has lost out. Jack Rubin's more recent work has been for various Corman vehicles: Death Race 2000, The Lady in Red, and Avalanche.
As many potential buyers were saying in Cannes: Well, they've got a lot of the right people aboard. Now all they've got to do now is go and make the movie....
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