The Best Star Wars Rip-off Is A Nutso Trip Made One Year After A New Hope

By Matthew Flynn | Published

The lasting impact of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope is well-documented. Nearly as impressive as the movie’s decades-spanning influence was its immediate impact. After George Lucas’s masterpiece’s success, studios sought to cash in by filming and releasing space operas as quickly as they could. One of the lesser-known, wilder knock-offs was Starcrash, which can now be viewed on a variety of streaming platforms.

Starcrash Is Bonkers Sci-Fi At Its Best

The classic space opera Starcrash has been capturing the interest of cult cinema fans since its release in March 1979. A product of Italian and American collaboration, the film was originally titled Scontri stellari oltre la terza dimensione in Italy. As the title implies, the film is a collision of celestial proportions, full of otherworldly characters, intense intergalactic battles, and bizarre plot points that set it apart from other films of the era.

Starts Off Similar To A New Hope

The plot of Starcrash revolves around the exceedingly attractive space outlaw Stella Star and her loyal sidekick, Akton, who find themselves embroiled in an epic battle against the evil Count Zarth Arn. Zarth Arn’s evil plan involves a powerful weapon that can obliterate entire planets, and it’s Stella and Akton’s mission to stop him. While the narrative might remind some viewers of the original Star Wars, with an evil overlord and a heroic duo tasked with stopping his world-destroying weapon, the parallels end there.

Tribe Of Amazon Women

Starcrash is renowned for its highly eccentric storyline, which includes bizarre elements like a tribe of Amazon women and a planet inhabited by cavemen. This is a testament to the wild imagination of the film’s Italian director, Luigi Cozzi. Indeed, the film’s eccentricity has contributed to its status as a cult classic, a status fueled by its 2017 appearance on the reboot of the popular television series Mystery Science Theater 3000, where it was humorously lampooned.

Early Appearance Of David Hasselhoff

The film’s cast includes some particularly noteworthy actors. Marjoe Gortner, an evangelical preacher turned actor, plays Akton, while the beautiful Caroline Munro stars as Stella Star. Joe Spinell, a famous face from movies like The Godfather and Taxi Driver, portrays the villainous Count Zarth Arn. Rounding off the cast is David Hasselhoff, in one of his earliest roles, and Christopher Plummer, who adds a touch of class as the Emperor.

Filmed in the winter of 1976 in Italy, Starcrash was completed in a whirlwind three months of production. The sets and props, particularly the miniatures used for the space scenes, were a testament to the creativity of the film’s production team. Despite a tight budget, these miniatures were ingeniously crafted to depict expansive interstellar battles and celestial panoramas reminiscent of Star Wars.

Free To Stream Today

The unique charm and quirkiness that define Starcrash continue to captivate fans, old and new. With its unconventional plot, nostalgic special effects, and memorable performances, Starcrash stands as a cult classic that is sure to continue sparking interstellar interests among sci-fi enthusiasts.

See for yourself how Starcrash holds up all these decades later by streaming for free on the Roku Channel, Vudu, Tubi, Crackle, Pluto TV, Shout TV, or Freevee.

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