Tonight’s Viewing – Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)

Hi everyone,

I capped off a day out in the capital with a visit to the Prince Charles Cinema for a screening of this Roger Corman effort which I had some fond childhood memories of. I say childhood memories because I don’t think I had seen this film since I was about 10 years old.

Going in, I remembered that it was a sci-fi remake of The Magnificent Seven (which, yes, I know, makes it a remake of The Seven Samurai) and I remembered that it featured John Boy Walton in the lead role, assisted by George Peppard as a Space Cowboy and Robert Vaughn in pretty much a carbon copy of his role in the western on which it is based (he even has some identical dialogue).

Obviously, this is an effort to ride on the coat tails of Star Wars and stands among so many efforts that came in the wake of George Lucas’ runaway hit from three years previous. In its favour are a gloriously tongue in cheek script from John Sayles and a wonderful score by newcomer James Horner.

Credits for the film also include a young James Cameron who worked as a model maker on the film. This is where he met Gale Ann Hurd; a meeting which led to The Terminator.

John Saxon is good value for money as the evil Sador up against a ‘magnificent’ group of heroes including those mentioned above. These include a reptilian life form, a group of beings called Nestor who are a hive mind and have no tolerance for pain, and a couple of small aliens who radiate heat and are used to roast hot dogs in one particularly great scene.

The show is stolen by Sybil Danning as Saint-Exmin of the Valkyrie. She’s fantastically over the top and has some great lines. “You’ve never seen a Valkyrie go down!” The production department had trouble keeping the top portion of her costume on and had to resort to using band-aids to keep it from slipping.

There’s also a cameo for veteran Sam Jaffe as a disembodied head on top of a box trying to palm his daughter off on the first eligible bachelor to come his way (I’m not making this up).

I wasn’t prepared for just how hilarious this film is. The cinema erupted in laughter at regular intervals and rightly so. Despite some of the special effects shots being used over and over again to the point of near exhaustion, this is a fun romp that delivers much on the big screen. I really enjoyed watching this again, if only for some of the bizarre overacting and laugh out loud funny moments.

I highly recommend this to anyone who’s after a bit of brainless fun. This was Corman’s most expensive film when it was made and much of its $2million budget was spent on George Peppard and Robert Vaughn. There wasn’t a lot left over for effects and what there was was used quite well in the grand scheme of things.

Thanks for reading,


Check out more of my random thoughts about film by following the links below…

Tonight’s Viewing – Dune (1984)

Tonight’s Viewing – The Postman (1997)

Tonight’s Viewing – The King

Mission: Impossible – The best action franchise going?