Blu-Ray Review: STARCRASH

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Last November I dedicated my ‘Not Available on DVD’ column to the “infamously harebrained but entertaining-as-hell” 1978 Italian STAR WARS knockoff STARCRASH. It was released on the Orion VHS label in the mid-80’s (and on a cheap label under the title FEMALE SPACE INVADER) but had yet to appear as a domestic DVD release. At the time I wrote “Leave it to the wacky Italians, always quick to exploit a popular trend, to rip off George Lucas’s cash cow resulting in a film so spectacularly cheesy that over 30 years later it has actually aged better than the film it emulates.” (read the entire column HERE) I wrote this half in jest as a way to tweak my Star Wars-worshipping friends, but after watching the new Blu-Ray release from Shout! Factory, I’m starting to think I may have been on to something after all.

Shout Factory has done absolute wonders with their recent of STARCRASH in terms of transfers and extras. I saw the film many times at the Drive-in in the late 70’s so this glorious high-def transfer is by far the best presentation I have seen and probably the best it has ever looked. Considering how many shots were created using multiple exposures, the image looks incredible and the colors vibrant, even during the stop-motion sequences and the primitive video effects. The extras on this two-disc release are pretty amazing for such a long-maligned film. The feature film sports two commentaries, both featuring STARCRASH ‘authority’ Stephen Romano solo. These play as both fan and film historian commentaries and though I’m not sure that STARCRASH is a film that deserves two such commentaries, Romano is clearly the guy to do it. He’s simply full of so much information about his favorite movie, he needs to do it twice! Romano is absolutely in love with this film and talks at length about its following and its influences as well as incredible details about the making of the film and background trivia. He covers just about any aspect of the production you can imagine and manages not to overlap information between the two tracks. Romano’s serious and earnest devotion to the film is clear and he really does make the case, in a reasonable and intelligent manner, that STARCRASH is far more than the junky rip-off it’s always been regarded as.

The STARCRASH Blu-ray contains a second disc comprised of six hours supplementary materials including an extended interview (71 minutes!) with still-stunning star Caroline Munro who discusses her role as Stella Star as well as her overall career. The sound and picture quality of this interview is poor and it seems a bit rushed (and her name is misspelled in the intro!) but I liked hearing what Ms Munro had to say. There’s a 42 minute interview with director Luigi Cozzi who discusses his early love for sci-fi, how he got into the film business, and how he came to direct STARCRASH. (he claims to have never seen STAR WARS!). There’s also 17 deleted scenes, the original screenplay, a behind the scenes reel complete with commentary track, a trailer with commentary by Eli Roth, and a feature which looks at the special effects of the film. As if all that wasn’t enough, there is even a 12 page booklet containing Stephen Romano’s distilled thoughts on the film (I think if Shout! Factory had offered Romano 112 pages, he’d have filled those up) and a reversible cover.

In my ‘Not Available’ column I wrote “STARCRASH is juvenile, poorly acted and written, full of wretched comedy relief, cheesy, and doesn’t make a lick of sense. But couldn’t you say the same thing about the first STAR WARS (sounds of geek heads exploding!)? Made for a fraction of the budget, STAR CRASH has more ambition and imagination and if I had to choose one to take to a desert island, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick STARCRASH”. After experiencing the glory that is this loaded new Blu-ray release from Shout! Factory, I stand by that assessment as firmly as ever.

Another film I wrote about in my ‘Not Available on DVD’ column about a year ago was the 1971 Hammer Horror oddity VAMPIRE CIRCUS. Synapse films has just released that in a loaded Blu-ray and I will have a review of that here at We Are Movie Geeks next week. For the record, three other films I’ve written about in that column have subsequently been made available on legitimate DVD labels: TWO ON A GUILLOTINE, THE GREEN SLIME, and THE WHITE BUFFALO.

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