BILL’s BIZARRE BIJOU
William D. Carl
This week’s feature presentation:
ESCAPE FROM GALAXY 3 (1981)
Aka STARCRASH 2
Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made. If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if there’s a multitude of drag queens and camp sensibility, if go-go dancers in cages are featured, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it. Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open.
In the 1980s, the Italians were experts at ripping off big-budget Hollywood films (and even lower budget ones like DAWN OF THE DEAD, 1978) and creating entertaining schlock, which filled drive-in double bills for decades under various names. One of the biggest hits was STARCRASH (1978), a low-budget charmer rip-off of STAR WARS (1977), that threw in everything but the kitchen sink—evil, overacting villains; Caroline Munro in a tiny, fetching outfit; Marjoe Gortner, a child faith healer all grown up; and special effects and sets that looked like somebody used their Lite Brites and a lot of leftover Easter candy. Directed by schlock-master Luigi Cozzi, this was a very entertaining mess, and the current Netflix embodiment of Mystery Science Theater 3000 has used it for a very funny episode. What do you do when you achieve a level of success in Italian Cinema? You make another movie that has nothing to do with the first and slap on a title that sounds like a sequel. Thus was born ESCAPE FROM GALAXY 3 or STARCRASH 2 (1981). But does it match the gee-whiz wackiness of the original?
Well, we begin with a groovy disco instrumental over those same Lite Brite stars (I swear, they just put some Christmas lights behind black cloth!). On a huge spaceship, a king in a purple robe with a Burger King crown on his head is alerted that Oraclon, the King of the Night (Don Powell of BLACK EMANUELLE, 1975, and TEXAS, ADIOS, 1966, as well as being the composer of the disco music score of this film!) is approaching. Oraclon has the same hand-shaped spaceship as the villain in STARCRASH, a rejected Ming the Merciless outfit, red go-go boots, and beard glitter! He attacks the king’s ship using lots of footage from the first film.
One of the king’s men, Lithan (Fausto di Bella of TORSO, 1973) suggests putting “Project Epsilon” in place. He grabs the king’s sexy daughter, Belle Starr (gorgeous Sherry Buchanan of DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D., 1980 and TENTACLES, 1977) and they hurry off in hyperspace using the “hyper-solar missile systems!” Belle is wearing an outfit that exposes one boob except for a single star pasty, just like Lil Kim! Oraclon realizes somehow that Litham and Belle Starr have escaped his grasp. He sends more ships after them, and one of them shoots a laser right into the cabin of their ship and destroys their computer. Somehow, they still elude the bad guys and Oraclon screams, “Use the Megamethric Teleprobe and scan the whole Eastern Galaxy. Including the Inquidissidrent Conic Tangent!” I love gobble-de-gook sci-fi dialogue like this, and this movie is packed with it!
Litham and Belle discover a planet to land on, just as their computer fails. It is populated entirely by villagers wearing togas, bikinis, or loincloths! Rowr! The fugitives marvel at the sunlight and trees for what seems like eighteen hours.
The villagers have had enough, and they try throwing rocks at Belle and Litham, and they are astonished by Litham’s laser gun. They live in houses that resemble plastic cakes and some look an awful lot like SpongeBob Squarepants’s pineapple under the sea.
Belle and Litham find a lake and waterfall. He asks, “What is it?” and she replies, “It’s water. I once saw some in my father’s collection of intergalactic minerals.” They have never seen water before!! They also come across a couple making out. “What are they doing?” Litham asks. “Maybe they’re trying to communicate,” she answers. “Let’s try it.” And the disco music turns to wah-wah guitar porno funk as the fugitives discover kissing.
Belle and Litham are taken prisoner by the primitive people, some of the men wearing baby doll nighties (I wish I was kidding, but wait to you see the frills). As they are about to be put to death, a child falls off a cliff, and Litham leaps a hundred feet up and catches the kid, saving its life. “Obviously, they don’t know what psycho-energetic force is,” Belle says. The villagers decide the pair are A-ok after all, and they give them loincloths and leis to wear. Belle and Litham even begin to learn the ways of love from the locals in a few tame softcore sex scenes, including a lakeside orgy, but Litham is a cold fish and doesn’t feel anything when the women stroke him.
Oraclon flies above the planet, scanning it. Turns out, the planet used to be called Earth, but there was an atomic war and the radiation killed everyone. Obviously, he was misinformed!
Before the film is over, you’ll witness the amazing choreographed disco dance of the villagers (surely the most hilarious lost-civilization dance routine EVER); a strange fiery gymnastic contest, so a man can pick any woman to mate with (to weird Hasidic-sounding Hava Nagila music!); a tragically sappy song called “The Touch Of Love” by someone sounding like a low rent Shirley Bassey; a deadly laser kiss; and even more space sex!
Will Oraclon, King of the Night, find the escaped lovers and kill them? Will Litham ever understand the ways of making love? H Did the makers of STARCRASH get paid for all the footage that was reused?
ESCAPE FROM GALAXY 3 is a laugh riot . . . unintentionally, I’m certain. Everyone is so incredibly earnest in their performances that it just makes the sexy situations even more ridiculous. It’s as though some weirdo combined THE APPLE (1980) with STAR WARS (1977) and added a little EMANNUELLE AND THE LOST CANNIBALS (1977). It’s an insane mish-mash, and I have no idea who the intended audience was. It’s too sexual for the kids who’d enjoy the sci-fi elements, and it’s too dumb for adults . . . unless you are drinking heavily. It is also chock-full of weird sci-fi made-up terminology, which gets funnier as the film moves steadily towards its end. “Hydrogen boosters,” “a shield of mega-rays,” and my favorite “Uranium Vapor Rockets!” Utterly hilarious! The fabulous disco soundtrack doesn’t hurt, either.
This is a terrible movie, but in all the right ways. With a group of similar-minded movie-lovers and the right alcoholic beverages, I can guarantee a good time!
I give ESCAPE FROM GALAXY 3 two and a half Megamethric Teleprobes out of four!
© Copyright 2017 by William D. Carl