I’ve realized in the past few years that I can add “well intentioned Star Wars-esque space opera with practical effects” to the list of sub-genres that I can really get behind. Buck Rogers, Black Hole, Barbarella, Star Crash and a few other Roger Corman movies I’ve seen have all really impressed me. And, in truth, when it comes to Corman’s most expensive-to-date film Battle Beyond The Stars, it’s way more of a Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven lift than a Star Wars one, though they do seem set on making Richard Thomas of Waltons fame look as much like Luke Skywalker as possible. Our hero Shad is worried about the fate of his home planet, so he goes out into the galaxy to bring back a sextet of people including Robert Vaughn, George Peppard (Hannibal from A-Team) and Sybil Danning to square off against none other than John Saxon who played the cop in Nightmare on Elm Street as well as one of the white dudes in Enter the Dragon.
It should also be noted that, while the plot borrows from Akira Kurosawa, it also pays homage by naming Shad’s home planet Akir where the people are known as the Akira. There’s also some fun had with the people he gathers. One’s a bodacious Wonder Woman-esque warrior, a lizard like alien, a cowboy from Earth, a group of mind-melded three-eyed aliens, Robert Vaughn as well Robert Vaughn and more. Shad also has a sassy talking spaceship that’s pretty fun.
All in all, I thought that Battle Beyond The Stars was a nice effort. Even the spaceships look pretty great, though the main one looks like a combination of Hammerhead from Star Wars and the female reproductive system. So, if you’re looking for a practically done, somewhat campy, but still enthusiastic sci-fi flick from the early 80s, you can do a lot worse than checking out Battle. Plus, it’s on NetBox, so you don’t have to wait for a rental!