Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), starring Richard Thomas, John Saxon, Morgan Woodward, George Peppard, Sybil Danning, Robert Vaughn directed by Roger Corman
In short, Battle Beyond the Stars is Roger Corman’s cheesy rip off, trying to cash in on the popularity of Star Wars. Cross Star Wars with The Magnificent Seven, and this is what you get. Frankly, Robert Vaughn effectively plays the same role in both films.
The space ships look beautifully crafted. Some of the alien makeup is excellent – but others aren’t. And the acting is, for the most part, good. The exception to that is Sybil Danning. She relies on her figure instead of acting ability.
That’s not to say it’s a terrible movie — it’s not. It’s got a fair amount of humor (some unintentional), fast paced. It’s an enjoyable popcorn movie. Be forewarned that there’s
Cast of characters
Richard Thomas (The Waltons) … Shad.
Battle Beyond the Stars has been described as “John Boy in Space”, and there’s some truth to that. Richard Thomas plays Shad, a pacifist farmer. He’s forced by circumstances to gather a group of mercenaries to defend his homeward from Sador’s invasion.
Robert Vaughn (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) … Gelt.
The bounty hunter’s who’s unwelcome everywhere. Shad promises him a safe place to stay, and meals. And keeps his word in a touching moment.
George Peppard (Damnation Alley, The Blue Max) … Cowboy.
Effectively, a trucker in space. Shad and Nell rescue him from pirates. He’s got a large shipment of hand weapons that he can no longer deliver. Because Sador has killed his customers. Shad’s people are unarmed, and can use those weapons. Actually, Cowboy’s an enjoyable character. The audience comes to care for him, especially by the end.
Darlanne Fluegel … Nanelia.
Dr. Hephaestus’ lovely daughter. Shad’s the first human being she’s seen besides her father. She initially refuses Shad’s invitation to join him, but later follows him.
Morgan Woodward (Cool Hand Luke) … Cayman.
A lizard man who’s cold-blooded in more ways that one. He’s captured Nanelia, and intends to sell her. Until he learns that they’re fighting Sador — whom he hates. Sador previously exterminated his people. His crew of heat-communicating Kelvins come in quite handy as well.
Sybil Danning (Howling II) … St. Exmin.
Supposedly, a space Valkyrie, who lives for battle. In actuality, her job’s to not pop out of her revealing costume.
Earl Boen … Nestor 1.
The Nestor are interesting characters, although the hot dog eating scene is silly. Effectively, each individual is a like a cell in an enormous brain. They join the fight, to hold off boredom. And, one of them makes a supreme sacrifice, in an attempt to kill Sador. A good, unexpected, scene.
- John Saxon (Queen of Blood) … Sador. The evil, world-enslaving villain. A very one-dimensional character. A waste of John Saxon’s talents.
- Lynn Carlin … Nell (voice). Nell’s one of the highlights of the film. The spunky, sharp-tongued AI that’s part of Zed’s ship.
- Jeff Corey (Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Babylon 5) … Zed. Owner of the “junk” ship that Shad uses on his quest.
- Sam Jaffe (The Day the Earth Stood Still) … Dr. Hephaestus. Zed’s old friend. He’s an old man — literally a head in a jar. He wants Shad to stay on his large, empty space station. With his beautiful daughter. Apparently, he’s really desperate for grandchildren!