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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look57.78%
Average: 8.89%
Pretty Bad: 13.33%
Total Crap: 8.89%

3 reviews, 27 user ratings

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Battle Beyond the Stars
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by Scott Weinberg

"Ah, that lovable B-movie sci-fi crap from the early eighties."
4 stars

OK, when is a rip-off NOT a rip-off? When it's an ACKNOWLEDGED rip-off! See, then it's called a REMAKE! And one of the craziest remakes I ever did see was waaaaaay back when I was about 11. It was called Battle Beyond the Stars. Being a child (and obsessed with all things space-related), I had no idea that this delightfully cheesy romp was a pretty dead-on remake of The Magnificent Seven! And it was another 10 years before I knew that The Magnificent Seven was ALSO a remake...of something called The Seven Samuari?? Oh man, was life sweet back then. Anyway, Roger Corman wanted to rip off Star Wars AND The Magnificent Seven at the same time, and only spend about 75 bucks doing it. The resulting movie is one of the finest pieces of B-movie wackiness that you're ever likely to see.

Star Wars meets The Magnificent Seven. Now guys (and I'm talking to the men here for a sec), tell me that doesn't sound cool! Each of the seven heroes is a different freaky alien, each with their own subplots, backgrounds and agendas. AND they all have their own distinctive spaceship! AND they all get to meet poetic, heroic deaths to save their buddies. Sounds great right?

Well, take a breath first. I should let you know that it's a Roger Corman production from 1980, which means the production cost about as much as a new Lexus would cost you today. To put it bluntly - It's cheap. Several of the outer space 'explosions' are recycled throughout the movie. I've made more impressive visual effects with two bean burritos and a laxative. The 'sets' make each planet feel as if they're the size of a small mailbox. The costumes are so warped, you'll be convinced that the wardrobe designers were snorting heroin off of huge blocks of cocaine. OK, still interested? Good.

Because Battle Beyond the Stars is truly a B-movie extraordinaire. It features a whole BUNCH of B-movie actors, which is one of the first requirements of the truly cheesy film. (And I believe I mentioned the costumes and the special efects already.) We got the mole-faced Richard Thomas, who is basically playing 'John-Boy in Space', and he's the hero! We got sidekicks and henchmen galore, and if this cast doesn't excite you, then you're definitely a person who ONLY watches good films and therefore you won't recognize any of these actors: John Saxon! Robert Vaughn! Darlanne Fluegel! (I know, it's a feast of riches, but there's more!) George Peppard! Sybil Danning!! And if you look real carefully, you'll see that cutie Julia Duffy from the old Newhart show! I can only assume that Joe Don Baker and Dick Miller were busy on other Roger Corman productions at the time.

The main strength of this cartoonish mess is the distinctive style in which young screenwriter John Sayles creates his "Alien 7". Here's what we got:

Shad is our young Skywalker. As played by Richard Thomas, he's just boring enough to allow us to appreciate all the truly kooky characters. Shad's planet is about to be destroyed by an evil overlord, and he rockets into the solar system to find some mercenaries. Motivation: Save home planet!

Nanelia has lived her entire life inside of a satellite surrounded by nothing but sexless androids and a Dad who consists of nothing more than a head atop of a washing machine. She digs Shad immediately and agress to help out. Motivation: Space-sex!

Valkyrie Saint-Exmin, as played by the statuesque and extremely bosomy Sybil Danning, is just a hoot. She hails from a race of fierce warriors, whose strengths obviously lie in their massive overflowing breasts and their prediliction for screaming like banshees during space battle. Motivation: To die in a glorious battle and display cleavage that could house a young dwarf.

Space Cowboy is...get this...He's a space! George Peppard plays this good ole boy with a crooked grin, a frumpy hat, and a complete wet-bar in his belt buckle! No wonder he gets some nice alien booty before it's off to war! Motivation: Han Solo complex; has several chances to bail but stays on to help (and get more space-tail).

Gelt is the cool assassin guy, and Robert Vaughn simply chews up every piece of styrofoam scenery and spits it out at every opportunity. Gelt is discovered on an extinct casino-planet and welcomes the opportunity to kill aliens he knows nothing about. Motivation: Sheer boredom, and the desire to show off his slick black spaceship.

Cayman of the Lambda Zone is this pretty groovy lizard alien guy who initially tries to eat Nanelia (and who could blame him?) but when she mentions the name of the evil overlord, he immediately spares her. Cayman comes complete with two cool little glow-in-the-dark space-midgets who can do cool sonic power stuff. Motivation: Knows the evil overlord from the past and is out for revenge!

Nestor is actually a collection of six docile and benign aliens, all sharing the same consciousness. (So NYEAH to all you Trekkies out there who thought 'The Borg' was a new idea!) These guys have cool telepathic powers and can make space-villains shoot themselves and stuff! Motivation: The desire for their race to discover new experiences, and apparently a WAR is one of them.

So we have all these freaky heroes, but no villain? Of course not.

Sador (rhymes with Vader) is played by B-movie demigod John Saxon in full overdrive. Complete with alien limbs and a freaky Gorbachev birthmark covering his face, this guy is truly B-movie evil. If I'm not mistaken, he has several scenes in which he grins evilly, strokes his chin and says "Mwaaa Haa Haaaaa!!" until all his space-clone cronies all join in. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the evil space-clones.)

If you're wondering if this movie has a sense of humor about itself, you need look no further than the wacky spaceships (as designed by a young and immeasurely less "king-like" James Cameron): Several of the villain's spaceships look like evil little frogs, while the ships of the heroes take on all shapes, colors and sizes. Shad's ship, which speaks freely and goes by the name of Nell, sports the largest pair of breasts ever captured on film. I'm not kidding! The spaceship has boobs! It's never mentioned in the movie, but the gag is there. Enjoy it.

In today's CGI-driven age, there's no WAY a movie could get away with this stuff any more. But back then, there was no CGI, so if the only way to get cool FX was to dip a frisbee in guacamole and throw it at a shaven dog, then so be it. Cheesy effects don't bother me as much when there's a real sense of FUN to a movie.

So there you have it: Cheap. Fun. Stupid. Colorful. Juvenile. Funny. Campy. Derivative. Energetic. Cheesy. Wonderfully dumb. I love it.

To tell me that this is a BAD movie is to tell me that my childhood was a sham. Surely something this intentionally campy and colorful can't be all bad. Sure, it's a rotten thing to just ape someone else's screenplays, but if you're gonna do it, at least have the decency to add your own concepts and contributions, and that's something Battle Beyond the Stars does in spades.

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originally posted: 03/03/01 17:51:57
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User Comments

9/11/16 mr.mike Is "no bad" 4 stars
6/29/14 B In tears all the way through - best movie ever 5 stars
2/01/13 dr.lao Good ol' fashioned cheesy fun 3 stars
10/26/09 No_limits11 Also, Google stated that people who commented might be selected to become Researchers, ther 3 stars
10/26/09 SouthWind24 The hate discussed there is not only irrational, but will make the most tolerant non-whites 4 stars
10/25/09 BadGirl31 Nations institutionalize their founding story as a renewable source of guidance and inspi 2 stars
10/25/09 Merlin45 Something like 95% of the problems described here as well as 95% of the problems blacks exp 4 stars
10/24/09 Red12 Appropriately calibrated to student ability, intensive reading and writing assignments acc 2 stars
10/24/09 Bob97 Perhaps that is why current discussions of the problem give it little attention or get it o 2 stars
10/24/09 Red78 Not only do you want to make sure that they are ready for the instruction, but you must a 2 stars
10/23/09 Barbara30 Take advantage of your talents and interests and use them to your advantage when creating t 2 stars
10/23/09 Barbara72 But if you are a scrawny post-adolescent boy who absolutely must have a steady stream of ca 2 stars
11/26/06 Adam Phillips Its a load of cheesy fun, and i admit that I watched it a couple of years back -still enjoy 4 stars
7/08/06 MickR BETTER than the MUCH overly hyped Star Wars!! 5 stars
8/27/05 ES the good old days, reminds everyone to watch Ice Pirates and Hell Comes to Frogtown again 4 stars
4/03/04 Dave F. Great! But, it was even more fun working on it. 1 stars
2/13/04 Christopher Steig Bad movie, but funny enough to sit through again to point and laugh! 4 stars
12/06/03 Mike Waters Battle beyond the stars is definitely one of the best!!! 5 stars
5/12/03 Michael Warth this movie is JAWSOME!!!! 5 stars
2/28/03 arles so bad, it literally makes you sick 1 stars
1/24/03 Rick Highly enjoyable slice of scifi hokum 4 stars
12/23/02 3man Not the best movie but campy. Gotta love Space Cowboy! 3 stars
5/21/02 Charles Tatum Goofy fun, better than usual Corman-crap. 4 stars
4/21/02 Monkeynut mate it was so budget it was funny. 1 stars
1/16/02 David A. I saw this back in 5th grade (1981) and it was a big disappointment. 3 stars
6/07/01 blazfeem I saw the movie and own it. I love this film. 5 stars
1/10/00 John Markham Pointless Sci-Fi. Everyone involved & all viewers, have wasted their lives! 1 stars
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  08-Sep-1980 (PG)
  DVD: 06-Feb-2001



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