Somehow, CBS aired a movie starring Klaus Kinski and William Devane — together at least — on March 10, 1987. Even more amazing, the movie was written by Brian Clemens — yes, the man who created Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter — and directed by Michael Schultz, the man who made Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but also has Car Wash, Cooley High, Krush Groove, The Last Dragon and Disorderlies on his resume.
Dude, I love movies.
Based on Ray Brown’s The Tintype, it has Devane’s character losing his wife and son (Danny Pintauro from Who’s the Boss) to a drunk driver. Later, he attends an auction with his friend General Joe Brodsky (John Ratzenberger, yes Cliff Claven was in a movie with Kinski, wrap your brains around that nugget) where they buy some of Joseph Cole’s (yes, Kinski) trunks from a century ago. Devane believes that Cole was a time traveler, a fact backed up by the appearance of Georgia Crawford (Lauren Hutton!), who travels with him to Crossfire, CA to get to the bottom of everything.
At this point, a plot to kill President Grover Cleveland — yes, really — emerges and Forest Tucker, James Avery, Tracy “Bob the Goon” Walter, Tim Russ (Tuvok!) and Terry Funk — again, what is going on with this movie — all appear.
I really think that the real time travel in this movie is me going back in time and making it happen before my bedroom is crushed Donnie Darko-style.
There are nine Super Giant films and all of them were brought to the U.S. by Medallion Films, who turned them into four movies. This story would be The Artificial Satellite and the Destruction of Humanity and The Spaceship and the Clash of the Artificial Satellite combined to make one longer film. So basically, this would be the fifth and sixth parts of the story. If you want to get caught up, you’ll need to check out Atomic Rulers of the World and Invaders from Space. When you finish this one, you can get the rest of the story in Evil Brain from Outer Space.
Starman is a human-like being created from the strongest steel by the Peace Council of the Emerald Planet. He’s been sent to our planet to protect us from the Sapphire Galaxy, who are blowing up the Himalayans. To make their plan move quicker, they kidnap Dr. Yamanaka and his family and force him to use his spaceship — yes, he just so happens to have a spaceship — to decimate the Earth.
Strangely enough, this movie has a death star and a weapon that destroys planets. I mean, Star Wars would never steal anything from a Japanese movie, right?
When Colonel Cliff “Rocky” Rhodes (ubiquitous ’60s biker flick stalwart Jeremy Slate), commander of an astronaut crew, mysteriously disappears through an airlock during a mission orbiting 250 miles above the Earth, it appears to be a simple case of suicide . . . or was he murdered? In the vastness of space, and with their communications array damaged, only one of his crewmates can be the murderer. Who among the crew had a reason to kill Col. Rhodes?
Back on Earth, in Mission Control, George Maharis (TV’s Route 66; Murder on Flight 502 and SST: Death Flight), Cameron Mitchell, and Sandy Kenyon (The Doors tome Down on Us) work on the case while Susan Oliver (yes, the Green-skinned girl from Star Trek) frets as the put-upon wife. The ship’s crew stars Star Trek alum Robert Walker, Jr. (“Charlie X”), TV actor John Carter (The Andromeda Strain; fellow TV flick Earth II), and William Bryant, whose long TV career began in the ’50s and lasted into the late ’80s. Margaret O’Brien, who stars as Mrs. Rhodes, won an Oscar for Outstanding Child Actress* for Meet Me in Saint Louis (1944), starred in Jane Eyre (1943), The Canterville Ghost (1944), and continues to work in television and indie films. She’s currently in production on her 75th project, Love Is in Bel Air (2021).
Sadly, as I fondly as recall this flick, the adult screenwriter in me today sees this as a Bechdel test failure: why not have either Susan Oliver or Margaret O”Brien in a meatier role as an astronaut? Well, this is set in the same present-day Apollo-Saturn V-Skylab era that’s just a few nautical miles down the equator from Marooned (1969) penned by Martin Caidin of The Six Million Dollar Man (1973) fame. Men ruled the stars back in the Kennedy-era and women didn’t conquer space until the far-flung “future” in Project Moonbase (1953), Gog (1954), King Dinosaur (1955), and Angry Red Planet (1959) — even though they were stuck wearing sensible corked-wedged mules and smart black ballet slippers to go with their waist-tailored and pegged flight suits, and smart gauchos with knee-high boots. And screaming and imploring men to “do something” and shoot everything in sight.
But I digress. Again. . . .
So . . . why are we here reviewing another Cameron Mitchell (Space Mutiny) sci-fi epic?
Well, it’s another “TV Week” at B&S About Movies . . . and all of that talk concerning Cameron Mitchell and his family’s galactic oeuvre for Allan Sandler and Robert Emenegger’s Gold Key Entertainment — which we discussed at length in our previous review of the studio’s 1981 release, Lifepod — got me to thinking of this ABC-TV movie obscurity (part of the “Wild World of Mystery” shingle) originally broadcast on June 17, 1974. Since I was Apollo crazy and still into my Matt Mason toys, I remember watching Death in Space when it first aired, then again in a post-Star Wars world during a late-night, local UHF-TV rebroadcast — pre-VCR (damn it).
Now, if you know your sci-fi the way we know you do, then you know the whole “murder mystery in space” plotting of this ’70s galactic progenitor was done to a lesser and lesser effect with the Canadian TV romp — which also aired in the U.S. as a first-run Showtime movie — Murder in Space (1985), and the Viacom/CBS-TV production Murder by Moonlight (1989) that, to make it all the more confusing, aka’d in the home video realms as “Murder in Space.” Courtesy of their respective directors, Steven Hilliard Stern (The Ghost of Flight 401 and This Park is Mine) and Michael Lindsay-Hogg (the Beatles “What If” flick Two of Us), and respective stars in Michael Ironside and Martin Balsam, and Brigitte Nielsen and Julian Sands, both films also ran as overseas theatrical features. The effects, sets and costumes are fine, but look cheap in the post-Star Wars environs and each feel like Battlestar Galactica: TOS (we’re reviewing that telefilm-verse this week, look for them) and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century two-part episode rejects.
Sadly, like Don Kirshner’s lost-to-the-ages TV rock ‘n’ roll horror, Song of the Succubus, the only known surviving copy of the English language print of the Agatha Christie-inspired space mystery of Death in Space is stored at the Library of Congress. Never released in an English-language VHS (as far as our research indicates), this Charles S. Dubin-directed telefilm was, however, issued as a dubbed VHS throughout Europe (which is where our image comes from).
In spite of the “Red Scare” blacklisting frenzy of the 1950s (along with Dalton Trumbo, the Award-winning writer of Roman Holiday and Spartacus; the subject of the Brian Cranston-starring Trumbo), Charles S. Dubin, fortunately, was able to build a prolific resume (mostly for CBS-TV) consisting of over 100 series (including 40-plus episodes of M*A*S*H; a few Kung Fu episodes) and TV films dating back to the early ’50s. Making his first bow in the sci-fi genre with the one-season anthology series Tales of Tomorrow, he made his feature film debut with the early rock ‘n’ roll flick Mister Rock ‘n’ Roll (one of five films starring famed disc jockey Alan Freed).
Of his many TV movies, Dubin’s best known are his take on Cinderella (1965; starring Ginger Rogers!, Walter Pidgeon!, and Celeste Holm?) and Murdock’s Gang (1973; Janet Leigh), with the best VHS-distributed of them — courtesy of William Shanter starring (more Star Trek connections!) — being The Tenth Level (1976). That same year he directed his second and final feature film: the car-crashin’ hicksploitation romp, Moving Violation** (1976). And, if you’re a TV movie airline disaster connoisseur (Did you check out our last “TV Movie Week” back in December dedicated to those films?), he directed the Arthur Hailey-penned (Airport) International Airport (1985) starring Gil “Buck Rogers,” aka “The Polish Sausage,” Gerard.
The western-bred scribe behind the Brother typewriter is the one and only Lou Shaw, who not only tweaked the dialog on the U.S. version of Hannah, Queen of the Vampires, aka Crypt of the Living Dead (1973), and wrote The Bat People (!), but many-an-episode of Lee Major’s The Fall Guy*˟, as well as an aborted attempt to turn Westworld into the series Beyond Westworld (and Dubin directed the failed series version of Logan’s Run!).
Sigh . . . what I would give to see this faded childhood memory, again, that I’ll always pair with almost-the-Six Million Dollar Man Monte Markham’s The Astronaut (1972). Mill Creek Entertainment or TV distributor Park Circus (Do those Lane Caudell flicks in your library, too, Park Circus) needs to get in touch with the Library of Congress and get this one out on DVD or on the air of the national retro-channels Antenna or Cozi. Other lost TV movies I want to find — that are not uploaded online, anywhere — are the Adam West-starring Curse of the Moon Child (1972) and the ABC-TV “Wild World of Mystery” entry Distant Early Warning (1975) starring Micheal Parks.
Ah, those hazy, snowy memories of TV yore that haunt your ol’ analog memory cores — and reviews that connect Oscar winners to Star Trek guest stars and the guy who wrote The Bat People. You gotta love ’em.
* Read the tale of Margaret O’Brien’s stolen and 40-years returned Oscar at The L.A Times. ** Check out our “Hicksploitation Month” round-up of reviews. *˟ Check out our “Lee Majors Week” tribute, which includes a review of The Six Million Dollar Man.
And be sure to look for our “Space Week” review tribute to Lifepod, this week.
British science fiction force Gerry Anderson is probably best known in the U.S. for his series Thunderbirds, which used Supermarionation to tell the stories of the team known as International Rescue. By the 70’s, he and his wife Sylvia were working together on shows like UFO and The Protectors, while being courted by Cubby Broccoli to write a treatment for Moonraker that was never used.
As part of the Andersons long and successful association with media impresario Lew Grade and his company ITC, Space 1999 was, at the time it was made, the most expensive British series ever made. Airing from 1075 to 1977 — man, they just missed the chance to be part of the Star Wars boom — the series is all about Moonbase: Alpha, staffed by 311 humans who are suddenly launched into deep space when nuclear waste stored on the moon explodes and sends them through the galaxy, in effect turning our moon into a spaceship. One imagines that the Earth itself did not survive, so everyone involved in this show really are the last human beings in the galaxy.
This all came about because the show UFO did better ratings when it was set on the moon. Anderson had been working on a show called UFO: 1999, but when the original show was canceled, he couldn’t get Grade interested in a follow-up. When he pitched this show, the producer demanded that there not be any Earth-bound settings. Anderson responded by blowing up the planet real good in the very first episode.
The issues on this show started when Grade demanded American leads and Sylvia, who usually handled the casts, wanted British actors. She would later say that she could have seen Robert Culp and Katharine Ross in the show, but the main characters of John Koenig and Helena Russell went to real-life couple Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, who had appeared on Misson: Impossible together and who were thought to have been a ratings draw for American audiences.
The show seemingly was always a battle, with writers leaving, budgets being overspent and ITC worried that the show would only run on American syndication and not a network, despite being sold to nearly every nation around the world. It also didn’t help that the Andersons split up between the first and second seasons.
All of this brings us to Cosmic Princess, which is basically two episodes from season 2 — “The Metamorph” and “Space Ward” — edited together. These stories introduce Maya (Catherina Von Schell, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), an alien who would take up the “Spock” role that some felt would propel the show into being must see TV.
By the time of this story, Moonbase:Alpha had already made its way through two space warps and entered the orbit of Psychon, which just so happened to have the minerals that the crew needed to survive. There’s a theory throughout the show that the leaps that the planet made were predestined and guided by outside forces — like the writing team, maybe? — but that may also be to covered narrative lapses in logic.
That said, it’s all a trap by the planet’s leader Mentor (Brian Blessed!) who is using a machine to drain their souls and make his planet less like hell and more like heaven. His daughter Maya helps the crew escape and joins them. The second episode in here has an alien ship to be explored as Maya deals with a virus that makes her transform into all sorts of monsters.
Speaking of Star Wars, one of the aliens in the second part is named Vader, which is done in voiceover and certainly seems like a complete cash-in.
This movie aired in syndication and all over the world, including KTLA, where it was one of the original movies that Mystery Science Theater 3000 made fun of.
So yeah. I kind of loved Space: 1999as a kid. I had the Mattel Eagle 1, the Power Records book and record sets and the Charlton comics. If you watch this today and think, “Man, this is really wooden and slow and somewhat boring,” I’ll just say that pre-Star Wars, science fiction fans did not have many choices other than watching Star Trek again and again.
“It’s a homage, not a remake.” — Tony Award-winning actor Ron Silver about his film directing debut
If you’re familiar with the classic, 1944 Hitchcock source material, you know that Lifeboat* was a World War II-set psychological thriller about a group of shipwrecked survivors adrift in a lifeboat — and they have to depend on a surviving Nazi officer to sail them to rescue.
This Fox Television sci-fi version — which aired simultaneously as a commercial-free Cinemax cable exclusive, was produced by Trilogy Entertainment, the studio that also produced Ron Howard’s firefighter drama Backdraft and Kevin Costner’s big screen Robin Hood romp — is written by Jay Roach, whose expansive resume has given us everything from the ’80s Animal House-inspired radio romp Zoo Radio to the Oscar-beloved Bombshell.
This time out, our group of survivors (a great cast of Silver, Robert Loggia, C.C.H. Pounder, and Adam Storke, who you’ll recall as Larry Underwood in the ’94 TV adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand) are lost somewhere between Venus and Earth on Christmas Eve in the year 2169 on a shuttle craft jettisoned from an exploded spacecruiser. And they spend the rest of the film — in plotting that reminds of John Carpenter’s The Thing remake — bickering over who is alien-infected set the bomb that destroyed their ship and has already murdered one of the survivors.
So, do the Star Wars-inspired bells and whistles satiate the younger Starlog magazine subscriber-set in digesting Hitchcock? Well, courtesy of the remake homage’s financial and creative backing by Trilogy and Fox, the production values are high and the acting is top notch . . . but didn’t we see this film already? Wasn’t this fodder for an old ’80s Battlestar Galactica or Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode? Weren’t Starbuck and Cassiopeia or Buck and Wilma lost on a lifepod with a gaggle of ne’er do wells before their series cancellations?
No . . . wait a minute . . . now I remember! I’m thinking of the screenwriting and directing debut of go-to TV main titles designer Bruce Bryant (Salvage I) and his sci-fi remake (not a homage; this time) of the Hitchcock concept with 1981’s Lifepod. And that one, starring TV’s Joe Penny (Jake and the Fatman) and Kristin DeBell (Meatballs), and was made by producer Allan Sandler for Gold Key Entertainment for the VHS home video shelves. And yes . . . we are talking about the same Gold Key who gave us the early ’70s kid adventures of H.R Pufnstuff and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. But, since this is B&S About Movies: Gold Key unleashed the likes of Amando de Ossorio’s Fangs of the Living Dead (1969), I Eat Your Skin (1971), UFO’s: It Has Begun (1981), Piranha(1982), and Don Dohler’s The Alien Factor upon the unsuspecting drive-in masses. (Is this the same Gold Key who also produced comic books; my beloved cheap jack Space Family Robinson issues bought in a three-pack off the comic rack at my local strip mall bookstore, in particular?)
Anyhoos . . . the Joe Penny one is set 22 years after the Ron Silver one, in the year 2191, with the maiden voyage of the Whitestar Lines’ (know your British nautical history) new Arcturus cruiser in jeopardy on the way to Saturn. Hey, wait a minute . . . this is SST: Death Flight all over again! No, wait . . . Starflight One (where’s Lee Majors?)**. Ugh, don’t you follow along, B&S readers: Lifepod ’81 is the same, but different: we have a talking “Mother” computer, like Alien, natch, who alerts everyone to abandoned ship . . . so instead of planting a bomb, the ship’s “main cerebral” is sabotaged. See, different. Oh, no! Wait . . . the ship was originally intended as an interstellar exploration vessel and the greedy corporation refitted the Arcturus into a pleasure cruiser . . . so, what we really have here is Hitchcock meets Kurbrick, aka a confused Hal has another temper tantrum over mission directives. But since there’s more than one lifepod bouncing amid the stars, we also have a touch of James Cameron’s Titanic in the pinch-o-rama spacestakes.
Wait, what? Oh, by the Lords of Kobol . . . not another Lifepod movie! Is Glen Larson committing sci-fi larceny, again? Roger Corman, are you making more cheapjack sci-fi cable movies? Ugh, not more footage and sets from Space Raiders, again. Please, spare us the Buck Rogers plastic sets, Glen.
While it’s not a Larsen or Corman flick (Oh, no! A “Roger Corman Presents” title card!), this is, in fact, a third Lifepod flick, one that’s also known as Circuit Breaker and Inhumanoid in various markets. In this version of the battle of the Lifeboat/Lifepod sci-fi homages remakes reboots, this one was released direct-to-video in 1996 and stars Richard Grieco (Art of the Dead) and Corin Bernsen (The Dentist). Ah, oh, okay . . . I see, it’s not the same, but different (you know, like when Within the Rock clipped Armageddon and Creature), since, in addition to Lifeboat, they’ve also ripped the 1989 Sam Neill-Nicole Kidman starrer Dead Calm — with Richard Grieco as the star-stranded galactic serial killer, aka the Billy Zane role, and Corbin in the Sam Neill role. And I refuse, on principle, to ever watch it: ever, as I have my limits on how much galactic feldercarb I can swallow a secton. Hey, wait a sec . . . yep, ol’ Rog is copycatin’ again! Event Horizon, which started out with the pitch of “Dead Calm in space” (and became something completely different by the time it hit the big screen), came out in 1997 — and it starred Sam Neill. Bravo, Rog! You beat ’em to the punch, again!
I have, however, watched the 1981 and 1993 Lifepod flicks, and truth be told: they’re really not that bad and both are solid on the production and acting fronts (the ’81 Penny over ’93 Silver for me). But I have not watched the flurry of pumped-out-in-quick-succession sci-fi flicks by writer-director-producer Allan Sandler (and his partner, Robert Emenegger) between 1980-1981 under the Gold Key banner:
Beyond the Universe — Starring familiar TV actor Christopher Cary of Planet Earth.
Captive – Staring Cameron Mitchell and ubiquitous TV actor David Ladd.
Escape from DS-3 — Stars Cameron Mitchell’s son, Jr.; he had a small role in Space Mutiny with his dad and sister, Cissy. (If you haven’t seen it — and you’re into “prison in space” flicks — pencil this one on your watch list.)
The Killings at Outpost Zeta — Jackson Bostwick, aka ’70s Saturday Morning TV’s Captain Marvel!
Laboratory— Another Mitchell daughter, Camille, stars alongside Martin Kove (John Kreese from The Karate Kid!).
PSI Factor — Starring familiar TV actress Gretchen Corbett and go-to TV bad guy Peter Mark Richman (one of his films was Jason Takes Manhattan).
Time Warp — Corbett and Cam Jr. returns, along with Adam West.
Warp Speed — Cam Jr., Camille and West returns, along with TV actors David Roya (Law & Order franchise) and Barry Gordon (Archie Bunker’s Place).
Lifepod— The best-known and distributed of the bunch, thanks to an also-pay cable run and the presence of the always likable Joe Penny (then hot with TV’s The Gangster Chronicles and the syndicated Rip Tide).
So, based on these film’s syndicated UHF-TV and VHS quick releases and common-cast actors throughout (including many more, familiar ’70s TV actors in support), rest assure — without even seeing the films — I’ll bank that there’s plenty of stock prop, set, and footage recycling (with production design courtesy of Steven Speilberg’s sister, Ann!) amid the planets. Are two films with Adam West enough to make you hit the big red streaming button? Uh . . . after the likes of Omega Cop and Zombie Nightmare . . . Magic 8-Ball says, “Proceed at your own peril” with Sandler’s space opera oeuvres of the Corman-Larson suspicious recycle variety. (Plus, I am too lazy to Google all of those titles. Go find your own damn movie links for a change.*˟)
You can stream the 1981 Joe Penny “remake, not a homage” version on Amazon Prime (and You Tube) and the 1993 Ron Silver “homage, not a remake” version on Amazon Prime (and You Tube). Oh, if you absolutely must defy the Magic 8 Ball’s heeds . . . you can watch the 1996 Richard Grieco one on You Tube.
** Be sure to check out our “Lee Majors Week“ tribute of film reviews. We are also reviewing Battlestar Galactica and Within the Rock during this week’s “Space Week” tribute, so look for them.
*˟ From the “Never Say Never, Young Warrior” Department: A month after writing this review, I caved and skimmed all of ’em (but Warp Speed held my interest as the best of the bunch, as far as acting, sets, and script; it reminds of a cheaper Silent Running). Let’s put it this way: Are you into Alfonso Brescia Italian space operas (and who isn’t; see our “Drive-In Friday: Pasta Wars” tribute to Uncle Al’s five Star Wars rips¹), or hankering for Ark II, Jason of Star Command, and Space Academy Saturday Morning “Star Wars” homages, or wondered if there were pseudo-sequels (at least in style and tone) to the Canadian Star Wars rip that is The Shape of Things to Come? Did NBC-TV’s plastic Star Wars hopefuls The Martian Chronicles and Brave New World capture your imagination? Well, then, you’ll have yourself a fun-filled weekend of it-ain’t-George Lucas-or-even-Glen Larson-it’s-Allan Sandler movie watching to occupy your time adrift on that intergalactic lifepod that Alfred Hitchcock built. And yes, there’s stock footage, sets, props, and costume recycling adrift in those there star, Big Hoss.
¹ Check out our month-long “Star Wars” tribute blowout rife with over 50 space opera droppings and clones reviews.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.
“Give me a film where Armageddon meets Alien, kid. — A cigar-chompin’ B-Movie executive to British special make-up effects designer Gary J. Tunnicliffe looking to make his break as a director
After binge-watching all of the Battlestar Galactica: TOS and Six Million Dollar Man series two–parters on NBC.com (as I prepared to review those series’ TV movie installments for our “Space Week” tribute), I couldn’t help but revisit what is one of my favorite (of many) Prism Entertainment ditties made for the Sci-Fi Channel (during their pre-“Y” days) — with all of the film’s totally awesome junk science tomfoolery of creating atmosphere and gravity on rogue moons. Obviously, someone in the Prism cubicles watched the epic, Steve Austin two-parter “Dark Side of the Moon” (Season 5), with our favorite cyborg “jumping the shark” by pushing the moon back into its proper orbit with a nuclear explosive device. (Junk science is great when you’re a kid, but a groan-enduing, mixed bag of Daggit dung and feldercarb when you’re a post-VHS codger lost in a digital world.)
So, our best estimation amid the B&S About Movies’ cubicles: Alien Resurrection (1997) went into production and the major studio asteroid-disaster battle of ’98 between Armageddon and Deep Impact was readying for theaters. And we can’t help but wonder if Creature (1985), William Malone’s Ridley Scott’s Alien meets Peter Hyman’s Outland (1981) redux, was pinched along the way?
Then there’s the marketing. Oh, you gotta love the marketing on this one.
It’s bad enough when a studio rips 20th Century Fox, Touchstone Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Trans World Entertainment in one fell celluloid swoop — along with every other ’80s Italian Alien ripoff* — but Prism’s distribution network decided to evoke a few more films to convince those doubting, overseas Thomases. You can easily pick up on the films clipped with the foreign theatrical-television-home video titles of Spacegate, Spacetrek, The Last Predator (!), and the-what-the-hell-why-not grey-market title of Armageddon II. Some of the more unique titles are: Asteroid Mystery (Russia), The Fossil (Greece), From the Abyss of Space (Italy), The Prisoner of the Moon (Canada/France), and Terror Moon (Germany).
Regardless of the myriad of questions in the originality department and its you-swear-that’s-recycled-sets from Roger Corman’s Battle Beyond the Stars/Galaxy of Terror clone-verse — even with its against-the-budget CGI absent from its fellow ’80s antecedental ripoffs — Within the Rock is actually a pretty fun watch courtesy of its smart scripting (all of the chemical compounds, explosives, and mining tech-speak seems well-researched and convinced me) and direction from a debuting in-both-departments Gary J. Tunnicliffe. Gary’s over 100 effects (and writing) credits include the Dracula 2000, Hellraiser, and Return of the Living Dead franchises, My Bloody Valentine 3D, and Drive Angry; to that end, he’s also brought us top-notch against-the-budget production design.
So, what “clones” are attacking here?
In the future-history of 2019 (Did you miss the Rollerball championship game between Houston vs. New York?), we not only get a Xerox’d Xenomorph XX121 (The Creature from the Black Lagoon-inspired, caked-in-mud-cum-oatmeal ancient demon imprisoned by an alien race**), we also get a crew of the same old corporation-paranoid, slovenly, greedy types with overactive libidos. And, just to make this a little bit the same, but different: the mining crew of Galileo’s Child, instead of drilling in explosives, they’ll plant rockets. But why send a bunch of miscreant, malcontent miners and not NASA-trained astronauts? Are you not following along, dear B&S readers? We’re more into evoking Armageddon than Deep Impact, here. And if those miners fail? Hey, there’s no time for any last minute, Liv Tyler glycerine tear-inducing heroics: NASA will send a crew to blow up the rouge moon, aka Son of Galileo, with a couple of shuttle-launched rocks, criminal miners be damned. See, this isn’t the same, its different: a moon instead of asteroid.
Oh, yeah. The junk science. Apparently, in the future-history of 2019, the Russians developed technologies that can reproduce Earth atmosphere and gravity “walls” on astronomical bodies. Too bad those same Ruskies were unable to advance man beyond floppy discs technology. Where’s Snake Plissken with those 1997-era, mission-critical audio cassette tapes when you need them the most? And dig that Atari 2019 gaming system!
So, after we slog through the expected carbon-copy character development — rife with horny sex innuendos — the mission shifts from a Bruce Willis-dupe into a William Malone-trip as the miners discover a bone-filled alien sarcophagus — and, like many o’ Transylvania Counts before it, the skeletal remains regenerate when exposed to blood oxygen (speaking of classic horror villains: the cast name drops The Mummy). Then, we’re off into the Shaw Brothers’ British-shot Alien ode known as Inseminoid, with one of the miners going off the deep end, adding to alien slaughterhouse rock.
See? It’s an awesome popcorn bucket full ‘o fun for the low-budget, sci-fi guilty teen inside your still VHS-loving adult. I love this movie: it’s a pure ’80s VHS-retro tale o’ yore, just like Mr. Corman used to make.
While there’s no production or crew connections (in the music department) to William Malone’s eleven years earlier, best-of-the-Alien-clones . . . the musical déjà vus are obvious. As we discussed in our review of Creature: Trans World Entertainment (not the retail company of the same name that operates mall-based entertainment chains), was defunct by 1989. And those intellectual properties, in turn, came under MGM Studios’ tutelage after the Great Lion purchased Orion Pictures. So, it seems MGM may have sold off Malone’s score as stock scoring for other films. (Amazingly, no South African sci-fi production pulled a Space Mutiny and stock-footage raped Malone’s Creature.)
As for Le Monde and 360 Entertainment, the Canadian production companies that worked with U.S.-based Prism Entertainment on Within the Rock (that played as an R-rated theatrical in the Great White North): both companies were defunct by 1998. They made one other film that same year: the 1997-released Ravager starring Yancy Butler, a déjà va space romp about another group of space miners, natch, who — in lieu of an alien — stumble into a forgotten, infectious bio-weapons depot (so, Wolfgang Petersen’s Outbreak meets Ridley Scott’s Aliens). And, you guessed it: the Corman work ethic of waste-not-want-not recycling (and on-the-cheap CGI instead of in-camera, blue-screen modeling) across all departments is in play. And that’s more than likely, since James D. Deck, who served as the Unit Production Manager and 1st A.D. on Within the Rock, made his screenwriting and directing debut with the impossible-to-find-a-copy Ravager.
If you’re one who pays attention to opening title card and edits credits . . . and you’re wondering if that’s the same actors we know as Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgement Day) and Scott McGinnis (Joysticks and Thunder Alley) in the producer’s chairs, your VHS-analog centers deceive you not: they’re one in the same (McGinnis also produced Ravager). And would you believe Pacific Rim junkmeister Cirio H. Santiago (who we love at B&S!) would be at the center of this Alien clone’s Venn Diagram? It’s true: Barbara Patrick, starring here as the Ripleyesque chemical-explosives expert Samantha “Nuke em” Rogers, was once known as Barbara Hooper, the star of Cirio’s Filipino post-apoc slopper The Sisterhood; while working for Cirio, she come to meet her future husband, Robert, who began his career with Cirio on Future Hunters. And you might have noticed Duane Whitaker (Maynard from Pulp Fiction) as one of the miners; he worked with Barbara Patrick on his self-penned Elvis homage, Eddie Presley. So this is an all-in-the-family shoot if there ever was one: and we dig it (mining humor!).
The fine folks at Mill Creek Entertainment make Within the Rock easy to own as part of its “Fright Fest” 12-pack issued in 2005 and 2012. It’s also part of a Mill Creek triple-feature pack with a Phantom of the Opera remake and The Fear 2. If you’d prefer a single flick-issue, you can pick up Image Entertainment’s 1999 pressing. Why Within the Rock — considering the producers synergy — wasn’t public domain double-packed with Ravager by Mill Creek is anyone’s guess. But if you can’t wait for your order to arrive, then you can stream Within the Rock for free on You Tube. Unlike its sister film, the harder-to-find Ravager ran as a home video-only release in the U.S. and is not currently available on any streaming platforms.
Editor’s Note: To commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the cancellation of the original Battlestar Galactica TV series in April 1978, we’re taking a look back at the two telefilms culled from the series — Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack and Conquest of the Earth — for our “Space Week” tribute this week.
As I revisited my used VHS tape of this third Battlestar Galactica feature film cobbling from the TV series — after Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack — my analog-kid memories time tripped to spending summers with my crazy Uncle Al (Bradley), the king of Italian schlock cinema; he who ripped the space opera torch from the hand of George Lucas and stumbled across the finish line to give us not one — but five (Yes, Sam, five. Not four. End of story!) — Star Wars ripoffs, faux flicks that we love so much amid the B&S worker bee cubicles, we dedicated one of our “Drive-In Friday” featurettes to Alfonso Brescia’s Pasta Wars oeuvre.
For if David Winter’s Space Mutiny is the South African equivalent of Turkey’s Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam, then Conquest of the Earth is Star Odyssey, Uncle Al’s response to George Lucas’s The Empire Strikes Back. For Glen Larson, with his Roger Cormanesque cheap ‘n shamless footage, prop, and costume recycling from his own BSG television franchise — as well as his Buck Rogers in the 25th Century axis (and Universal’s Earthquake and The Six Million Dollar Man*˟, and Irwin Allen’s The Towering Inferno, to boot!) — is a graduate of the Pasta Wars School of Science Fiction Film. (Hey, that prop from Quantum Leap looks like . . . oh, never mind.) Do you remember the time when Adalberto “Bitto” Albertini, he of the 1975 Italian soft-core sexploitation “classic” Black Emanuelle, pilfered Luigi Cozzi’s Starcrash to create Escape from Galaxy 3? Remember how Roger Corman endlessly recycled Battle Beyond the Stars to make the Star Wars droppings* that are Galaxy of Terror, Space Raiders, and Forbidden World (which also pillaged Galaxy)?
Yeah, it’s like that — and more. So much for TV network executives giving credence to viewer write-in campaigns.
Set 30 years after the initial series’ final, 24th episode, “The Hand of God,” in the spinoff series, Galactica: 1980, the famed Battlestar finally reaches Earth — only to discover the planet’s technology is unable to defend itself against the Cylons. Centered around the characters of Commander Adama, the now “Colonel” Boomer (replacing Tigh), Apollo, Starbuck and Baltar, the new series would be concerned with Baltar (atoned and now serving as the President of the Council of the Twelve) stealing a time travel ship to altar Earth’s history, so its technology would advance in the present day to the Colonial-Cylon level. At that point, the series would have a weekly “Time Mission,” with Apollo and Starbuck sent into the past to bring back Baltar — who would always, somehow, slip their grasp — and undo his changes to history.
Now, if you know your Glen A. Larson productions, you’ll recognize this time travel concept — slightly tweaked — also served as plot fodder for his more successful, later series Quantum Leap, which ran for five seasons from 1989 to 1993.
But I digress.
So, as the new spinoff series developed during pre-production, Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict were soon out — and replaced by TV actors Kent McCord (TV’s Adam-12; you youngins may have seen it on Cozi-TV) and Barry Van Dyke (Diagnosis: Murder on the old n’ stuffy Hallmark Channel alongside those The Golden Girls reruns). They would star as Galactician descendants Troy (Boxey all grown up!) and Dillon: the new (and not improved) Apollo and Starbuck (or Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, if you will). Ann Lockhart’s character of Sheba was also out (who, in turn, was the replacement for Jane Seymour who departed her role as Apollo’s love interest and fellow warrior, Serena); she was replaced by Robyn Douglass (the 10-speed racing romance Breaking Away) as earthling Jamie Hamilton, a network news reporter, who assists the Colonials. Also out was the great John Colicos as Baltar; now the “evil” of the show would be portrayed by the equally awesome Richard Lynch (Ground Rules) as Xavier, a high-ranking Colonial officer who defies Adama’s orders to send the fleet into deep space, away from Earth, and steals the time ship.
Of course, Xavier chose to time trip to 1940’s Nazi Germany, since the German wehrmacht was the “most technologically advanced society” in the world at the time. (Ugh, more costume department pillaging-on-the-cheap with the space Nazis from BSG: TOS‘s “Experiment in Terra”). However, after the airing of the three-part pilot “Galactica Discovers Earth,” the network deemed the time travel aspect too expensive to maintain on a weekly basis; it was nixed to concentrate on a more cost-effective “present-day Earth” setting — complete with Troy and Dillon on new mission: integrating a gaggle of (annoying) Colonial children who, courtesy of their being born in space, have developed superpowers in Earth’s gravity. (By the Lords of Kobol, noooo!) And . . . did you know that, when you time travel, your clothing turns snow white? Well, it does when you need to reuse those all-white Colonial Warrior suits from “War of the Gods,” themselves reused in “Experiment in Terra,” collecting dust in the bowels of Universal’s wardrobe department**.
Upon the 10-episode failure of the rebooted series, Universal, to maximize the profits on their investment (the initial Battlestar Galactica pilot cost $20 million to produce; another $20-plus million was spent on the series episodes at one million each), requested Glen Larson recut the series as 14 feature films that would play as theatrical features, TV movies, and home video rentals in the overseas marketplace. The first was Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack, which was cobbled, in part, from the original series’ “The Living Legend” story arc starring Lloyd Bridges as Commander Cain. The second film (know as Galactica III in some quarters) is the subject of this review: Conquest of the Earth, which was cobbled together from the three-part pilot “Galactica Discovers Earth,” along with footage from the season’s two-parter “The Night the Cylons Landed,” and (to work Baltar and Lucifer into the plot) the old BSG: TOS episode, “The Young Lords.”
Needless to say, there’s a lot of dialog looping afoot, with Lorne Greene, John Colicos, and Jonathan Harris helping stitch together the new, alternate timeline of this theatrical release. And the Dr. Zee character is dubbed as well, so as to explain away why two actors — Robbie Rist (yes, little Cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch) and James Patrick Stuart (a pisser as failed rocker Perry on CBS-TVs Still Standing; yes he was on Supernatural) — portrayed Doctor Zee; turns out, they’re genetic brothers: Dr. Zee and Dr. Zen! And, thanks to creative editing and (bad) dubbing . . . we have a budding romance between earthling Jamie Hamilton and her space prince, Dillon — a romance absent from the U.S. series.
Just wow. The U.S. series installments were bad enough. But this? Cousin Oliver, flying bikes, humanoid Cylons! Oh, my!
At least the faux sequel Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack has Lloyd Bridges to distract us from the mismatched scenes and dubbing (most noticeably by on-the-cheap union-rate voice actors and not the original stars). But this overcooked Pasta pot mess . . . not even the presence of requisite baddy Richard Lynch (but a good guy in Steel*˟ ) — against the dry-as-toast thespin’ from our heroes Troy and Dillon — can save it. No, not even those flying Colonial motorbikes! Frack, forget the bikes. For when you have Cousin Oliver bossing Commander Adama, you’re waist-deep in gooey feldercarb.
Oh, yeah. The humanoid Cylons.
So, the Cylons were busy on the Base Stars those past 30-years. Not only have they developed a new and improved Raider — with glowing red wings and an expanded, five-manned cockpit — they’ve developed human-looking counterparts! And Andromus, the main Cylon-human hybrid baddie that Troy and Dillion must contend with on Earth, is portrayed by Roger Davis, who you know for his two year, 120-plus episode run as Charles Delaware Tate on TV’s Dark Shadows, as Jeff Clark in the House of Dark Shadows theatrical film, the scuzzy redneck romp, Nashville Girl, and pre-Smokey and the Bandit romp, Flash and the Firecat. It’s bad enough John Colicos was stuck wearing a Cylon Warrior headpiece, like an errant Darth Vader, in “Fire In Space” (” . . . burn, Galactica, burn. You’re finished Adama!”), but wow, sticking Roger in that ridiculous Ed Woodian pointed-silver headgear. There’s got to be a better way to make buck as an actor.
But, hey, at least it gave Ronald D. Moore plenty of fodder to reboot BSG 2004, with his human-Cyclons and glowing-eye Raiders, so ABC-TV greenlighting Galactica: 1980 wasn’t a total loss. And for ditching the space scouts, we thank you, Ron.
But I digress.
In today’s digital realms, when you access Galactica: 1980 (which was a spinoff series) episodes at NBC.com, it’s cobbled under the Battlestar Galactica banner as “Season 2,” which is now 8 episodes, instead of its original 10 installments. And what we knew as the three-part Galactica Discovers Earth” story arc is now the extended (53 minutes vs. the usual 45 to 47 minutes) single-episode “Conquest of the Earth,” with all of the time travel plotting, the Nazis, the all-white time travel suits, and earthling Jamie Hamilton’s integration into the Colonial society, excised. But, what the frack . . . the bikes . . . and those damn kids . . . are still with us. And the now, second online episode is actually the old, first installment the abysmal two-parter, “The Super Scouts,” which was actually the fourth and fifth episodes . . . oh, never mind, it’s all just feldercarb at this point.
** There’s more recycling from the Universal-Glen A. Larson universe to be had in the frames of Harry “Tampa” Hurwitz’s The Rosebud Beach Hotel. The Currie sisters, Cherie and Marie (know your Joan Jett and the Runaways history), rock out wearing the same jumpsuits Markie Post (NBC-TV’s Night Court) wore during her season one guest stint as Joella Cameron on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (the 1979 two-parter “The Plot to Kill a City” if you’re interested). As it turns out, the Universal Studios’ wardrobe department made two suits for the episode — and were shocked to re-discover the matching wares, when fitting the Currie sisters for the film. For nothing goes to waste in the Larson-verse. In fact . . . I recall seeing the all-white Colonial, angel-cum-time travels uniforms in another, non-Larson movie. Or was it a TV series? Ugh. By the Lords! What was it?
Editor’s Note: The original Battlestar Galactica series that debuted on ABC-TV on September 17, 1978, was cancelled on April 29, 1979. As part of our “Space Week” tribute this week — which was inspired by our most recent “TV Week” tribute in April — we’re reflecting back on the 42nd anniversary of the show’s cancellation with a look at the two overseas theatrical films culled from the series: Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack and Conquest of the Earth. We’ll also take a look at the additional twelve telefilms culled from the series’ episodes in this review.
Even at its cheesiest and lowest of budgets, the production values of ’70s and ’80s American telefilms and TV series rivaled most Asian and European productions. Thus, many of the TV movies and series-pilot films reviewed at B&S About Movies — such as The Six Million Dollar Man (1973)* — became theatrical features in the overseas markets.
In Britain, the series UFO and Space: 1999 became Invasion: UFO and Destination Moonbase Alpha, while the 1973 Canadian TV production The Starlost was rebooted with a series of films beginning with The Starlost: The Beginning. In addition, two-part episodes of popular U.S. series — such as the Season 5 episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man (1976), “The Secret of Bigfoot” and “The Return of Bigfoot” — were cut into foreign theatricals. And those U.S. TV productions became significant box office hits that turned their actors — however brief — into “movie stars.” Just ask American TV actors Nicholas Hammond and Reb Brown, both who became overseas stars as result of their respective, short-lived Marvel/CBS-TV series, The Amazing Spiderman (1977; Columbia Pictures) and Captain America (1979; Universal Pictures), being cut into blockbuster theatrical films (each reached #1 in Japan). And Lou Ferrigno, thanks to those The Incredible Hulk series-to-films reduxes, he did alright and carved out a decent overseas theatrical career with Hercules, The Adventures of Hercules, The Seven Magnificent Gladiators, and Desert Warrior.
While us post-Star Wars lads n’ lassies were mesmerized by the initial Battlestar Galactica TV movie/theatrical in 1978 (recut into the syndicated three-episode arc, “Saga of a Star World”), we quickly grew weary of the subsequent ABC-TV series, as its blatant stock footage recycling from the initial film — with very little, new SFX shots produced — bored us pretty quickly. And, as the ratings dipped each week as result, the stories and the effects only got cheesier and cheaper, and repeated and recycled, which only led to more boredom.
When the series was cancelled after one season, the reason given was that the ratings didn’t justify the reported production cost of one million dollars per episode. One million? Seriously? And how many times did we see those same SFX shots of the barrel-rolling vipers to screen left and a Cylon Raider flying into screen right before it was blasted into space dust? And did you, Mr. Producer, not think we wouldn’t notice the Terran shuttle in “Greetings From Earth” was a stock shot from (the even more god awful) Buck Rogers in the 25th Century? And the ol’ “space Nazis” trope from Star Trek from over decade ago, really? So, uh, if the series wasn’t cancelled, would Adama and friends encounter a “gangster world” and a “gladiator world” in quick succession? And why not, you’d already stuck us with “western world” (“The Lost Warrior”) and “knight world” (“The Young Lords”) episodes. Did you learn nothing from the stock prop room and wardrobe adventures of the Starship Enterprise, Mr. Producer? What was next, retreading the Star Trek episodes with Starbuck forced into an arena battle by aliens with a Gorn? How about Starbuck and Apollo flying through a space anomaly that spits out their evil doubles — and giving Apollo a beard and Starbuck a Sulu face scar? And why not? BSG’s sister series, Buck Rogers, became a Star Trek pastiche with Hawk as Spock, Buck as Kirk, and Wilma as Uhura in its second — and final — season. And what was the friggin’ deal with Boxey and the Daggit skirting the Battlestar’s security protocols every week?
Ugh. So, yeah, of course many of us wee lads abandoned the show halfway through its 24-episode run (17 original episodes of the series were made, five were two-part shows). Sure, the first two episodes (4 and 5) that ran as “The Lost Planet of the Gods” were certainly up to the standards of the initial movie, but things got a bit dopey by the time of “The Gun on Ice Planet Zero” (8 and 9) with its clone buffoonery. And again, the single-night episodes in between the two-parters, with their even dopier western and knights of the round table tropes, were worse (by the Lords of Kobol . . . Fred Astaire, are you frackin’ kidding?).
Ultimately, the series failure — a series that we all wanted to succeed — was the result of corporate greed; a greed that also resulted in the creation and failure of Buck Rogers, natch, for rival network NBC. (Today, the once ABC-aired series is now the property of NBC-Universal. You can watch BSG: TOS online at NBC.com.)
The initial plan was to rollout BSG (as with Buck Rogers) across 1978 as four annual, miniseries sequels to the three-hour (3-part) pilot film. The other planned films were “Lost Planet of the Gods (4-5),” “The Gun on Ice Planet Zero (8-9),” and “War of the Gods (15-16)” — the aforementioned space Nazis mess that was “Greetings from Earth (19-20)” was developed later, when ABC-TV decided it wanted to go to a weekly series. That decision, in turn, not only strained the show’s budget (and resulted in raiding the prop and costume departments and the stock shot boondoggling), but left the writers scrambling for quickie episodes to fill out the series (thus the western, knight, and Nazi tropes). It also resulted in the three mini-series suffering cuts to fit into a two-part, hour-long format.
And that brings us to the source material behind the series’ finest hour courtesy of a story arc and characters (Lloyd Bridges on his A-Game as Commander Cain) that rivaled the initial TV movie pilot — an arc that, like the two-part “Greetings from Earth,” was developed as result of going-to-series. (An honorable mention goes to Patrick MacNee as Count Iblis in “War of the Gods.”) For the overseas folks in the U.K., continental Europe, and Japan, what we enjoyed as “The Living Legend,” they enjoyed as Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack. And while our overseas sci-fi brethren didn’t know any better at the time — to get the BSG: TOS DVD set and watch TV the version of “The Living Legend” instead — we sure did.
Why? Because this overseas theatrical cut is a load of feldercarb; the broadcast version is better (even more so with the DVD series pack, instead of its syndicated commercial run).
It’s one thing to add footage to the two 40-minute episodes to create a theatrical-length piece, but the editors on this daggit-dung decided to take out the Cylon attack footage from “Living Legend” and replace it with attack footage from “Fire In Space (14).” Why not use both scenes? Why take out the romantic triangle subplot between Starbuck, Cassiopeia, and Cain? And really, you went all the way back to the clearing of the space mines scene from “Saga of a Star World” to beef up the film? And yes, that’s footage from The Towering Inferno in there. (And footage from Earthquake shows up in Galactica: 1980, natch.) And, in addition to the plot holes, character’s hairstyles change without reason. And character voices change. And Sheba — remember, the whole purpose of the “Living Legend” arc was to add her character to the cast — is mostly left on the cutting room floor. It’s a frackin’ editorial and continuity mess.
While you may be able to find used copies of the VHS (which were eventually made available in the U.S.) in the online marketplace, beware of the DVD reissues — even the region-free presses — which do not play on U.S. decks (or computers). Another problem: the DVD runs five-minutes shorter than the VHS (at 103 min. vs. 108 min.). Why cut those five minutes? Why are scenes — such as the Cylon fuel depot attack — truncated, missing dialog and plot explanations? And why the different sound effects for the Vipers and Raiders?
And speaking of the series-cancelled-and-returned second season Galactica: 1980: Our overseas brethren known the three-part “Galactica Discovers Earth” pilot as the third, official Battlestar Galactica film, Conquest of the Earth (1980), aka Galactica III, in some Euro-countries, Japan, and Australia.
Ah, but did you know there were 12 more BSG films issued after the three theatrical features? And no . . . Space Mutiny isn’t one of them!
In 1988, this frackin’ South-African pile of daggit dung was added to the BSG-verse, an abomination that makes the Universal telefilm hodgepodges look like Oscar winners. Oh, feldercarb, it makes Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam, aka Turkish Star Wars, look like a statuette recipient. So, frack you, Action International Pictures*˟, for manipulating those foreign copyright loopholes and giving us an Ed Woodian Star Wars that you should have titled Battlestar 9 from Outer Space.
But I digress, again.
As with the aforementioned UFO, Space: 1999, and The Starlost finding a new, overseas life as theatrical, television, and home video features: After Conquest of the Earth, the third and final BSG foreign theatrical film, and prior to the syndication of the series’ 24 episode-installments, Universal Pictures edited the BSG series episodes to create 14 telefilms (two went theatrical, natch) for foreign distribution in 1981. (It’s said that some local U.S. UHF stations aired the TV movie versions of the series. I never saw them myself during their original 1981 run and only on VHS after the fact.) As you can see from the pairings of the vastly different episodes, these movies — as with Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack — also suffer continuity and editorial faux pas. The highlights — well, the worst of the films (depending on personal opinions) — are:
Experiment in Terra: An edit of “Experiment in Terra” (22) cut with content from Galactica: 1980‘s best episode, “The Return of Starbuck” (2.10), along with a chunk of “Saga of a Star World (1.1). But we do get a pretty cool, never-before-seen prologue explanation from Commander Adama about the Cylons — learned from Adama’s Galactica logbook discovered floating in space by an Earth astronaut.
Murder in Space: An edit of “Murder on the Rising Star” (18) with scenes from “The Young Lords” (11).
Space Prison: An edit of “The Man with Nine Lives” (17) and “Baltar’s Escape” (21).
Phantom in Space: An edit of “The Lost Warrior” (6) and “The Hand of God” (24).
Space Casanova: A combination of “Take the Celestra” (23) and “The Long Patrol” (7).
Curse of the Cylons: A hodgepodge of “Fire in Space” (14) with scenes from “The Magnificent Warriors” (10).
The rest are based on their multi-episode series counterparts:
Saga of a Star World: An all-new, third edit of the series that differs from the three-part syndicated series installments and the overseas/U.S. theatrical release.
Lost Planet of the Gods: Features restored scenes cut from the series version.
The Gun on Ice Planet Zero: Features restored scene cut from the series version.
The Living Legend: This is the third version of the Commander Cain tale, after the initial series episodes and the Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack theatrical repack.
War of the Gods: After “The Living Legend,” the second best episodes of the series, again, thanks to Patrick MacNee’s turn as Count Iblis.
Greetings from Earth: The absolute worst episodes of the series. And even the makers knew: they (thankfully) deleted the abysmal vaudeville soft-shoe routine by the plastic-headed/white-faced robots Hector and Vector.
Conquest of the Earth: An all-new, third edit of the Galactica: 1980, aka BSG Season 2, three-part pilot arc “Galactica Discovers Earth,” which also includes footage from the season’s two-parter “The Night the Cylons Landed.” And look out for Baltar and Lucifer in this version — bought in from the old BSG: TOS episode, “The Young Lords.”
Each of these telefilms are given their own, unique open and closing credits, along with new scenes (both newly shot and leftovers not used) and alternate, unused SFX shots. Outside of watching these movies, U.S. audiences seen most of these scenes as deleted outtakes included as “bonus features” on the BSG DVD/Blu-ray box sets of the series. But be on the lookout for plenty of Universal stock footage pillaging throughout, such as the Fembot footage from The Six Million Dollar Man timeline being incorporated.
While the always-the-pro Lorne Greene performed a number of voice-overs for these movies by providing narration to help link the unrelated episodes flow, Dirk Benedict, Herbert Jefferson, Jr., John Colicos, Patrick MacNee, and Jonathan Harris also pitched in with voice-overs and dialog loops. Richard Hatch opted out of the project (it seems he was pissed over the Galactica: 1980 mess) and another actor — that sounds nothing like him — looped his lines (and it’s as a bad as it sounds). (Don’t forget: Later on, Hatch was pissed that Universal passed on his Galactica novels and film reboot*).
But truth be told: Even with their faux pas, these hodgepodge films are a fun watch for two reason: First, for the inventiveness of the screenwriters in somehow creating continuity between such varied episodes. They were certainly up against it, kudos to them! Second, these series-to-film repacks exist in a universe unto themselves — outside of the original series’ plotting — with their “alternate” timeline. Again, it’s fun to compare the series to the films and (as a screenwriter myself) be fascinated by the creative process to maximum Universal’s bottom line.
Sadly, unless you’re able to track down any VHS taped-from-TV or VHS home video repacks (foreign or domestic), these telefilms are lost to the cathode ray snows of yore. Fans of the original series have been clamoring for DVD and Blu-ray box sets of these movies for years, myself as well, as I’ve only seen half of them as result of discovering their used VHS-versions years after the fact. As for Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack: we found four extended scenes (one in German) on You Tube (posted below) from the film for you to enjoy that gives the story arc from beginning to end.
The blogspot site, The 100the Planet (which helped in our research and memory jogging; so grazie, fellow warrior), did an absolutely magnificent job watching all 14 films and breaking down their respective plots. So, if you’re a die-hard fan of the original BSG series, it’s a great read. And we also thank BattlestarWiki.org for their assistance in preparing this review. And don’t forget, we went Star Wars crazy with our month-long review of the films (over 50!) that inspired — and were inspired by — Star Wars with our Exploring: Before Star Wars and Exploring: After Star Wars featurettes.
* Be sure to check out week-long tribute to the film career of Lee Majors! All the review links — and more — can be found with our “Lee Major Week Wrap Up” featurette.
** Did you know Richard Hatch made his Galactica: The Second Coming pitch film with low-budget, direct-to-video auteur Dennis Devine sidekick Jay Woelfel? True story. Check out our “Drive-In Friday: Dennis Devine Night” to learn more.
*˟ We kid. We love David A. Prior, David Winters and Peter Yuval’s AIP films around here. Why do you think we reviewed The Silencer and Firehead (just to name a few) in the B&S offices?
Along with 1980’s Captain Scarlet vs. the Mysterons, this film collects episodes of the 1967 series — “Shadow of Fear”, “Lunarville 7”, “Crater 101” and “Dangerous Rendezvous.” It wasn’t well-received by fans of the series and by anyone that hasn’t seen a Supermarionation series — in which Gerry Anderson filmed puppets and made them appear human — it may seem completely deranged.
In 2068, Earth has been at war with the Mysterons, who have a horrific way of dealing with their enemies: they kill them and replace them with clones under their control. Earth’s top military organization Spectrum had an agent named Captain Spectrum who was treated in just such a way, but he was so unstoppable that even his clone broke free from the Mysterons and came back to Earth.
On November 24, 1988, this movie aired as the second episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on KTMA. This would be the very first Turkey Day that fans of the show — well, it was only on one UHF channel at the time — would enjoy. The first episode was also shown that day, with Invaders from the Deep, another Gerry Anderson film, was riffed.
Quinn Martin was the king of TV for two decades. His QM productions produced a string of successful television series — he had at least one television series running in prime time every year for 21 straight years — that includes Twelve O’Clock High, Dan August,Tales of the Unexpected, The F.B.I., The Invaders, The Fugutive, The Streets of San Francisco, Cannon and Barnaby Jones. He also produced sixteen TV movies, The Force of Evil, Code Name: Diamond Head, Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan and his lone theatrical movie, The Mephisto Waltz.
This was one of his last productions, other than four Dan August TV movies. This movie has a great pedigree, however, as it’s directed by Harvey Hart, who also directed The Pyx, and was written by Robert W. Lenski, who wrote Who is the Black Dahlia?, Mafia Princess and Farewell to the Planet of the Apes.
The Aliens are Coming was obviously a pilot that never got picked up. It’s a lot like The Invaders, as aliens are looking to possess humans. Sadly, the budget isn’t what it should be, so a lot of the inside of their ships just look like light shows.
I was quite possibly the only eight-year-old Max Gail fan when this came out, so I know we definitely watched the premiere on NBC. I would have had no idea who Matthew Labyorteaux was at this point in my life because I hated going to anyone’s house who had the gall to make me watch Little House on the Prarie.