I always pair this movie up in my memory with Metalstorm: The Destruction Of Jared-Syn (1983) and that’s because both it and Spacehunter hit cable around the same time, and both have a post-apocalyptic Mad Max/Road Warrior vibe about them. Unfortunately neither movie held up to the memory I had of them, and I distinctly remember liking them both, more so with Spacehunter. It’s very rare too that I bump into a memory movie that doesn’t hold up, but alas they do exist. Having revisited this one last night after not seeing it for decades (I still find it better than Metalstorm, that one was just plain boring) it just didn’t do anything for me.
Spacehunter wastes no time in throwing you into the movie. It begins with a starliner exploding and three hot chicks managing to flee in an escape pod. But they’re not out of the woods, not by a long shot. The pod is designed to crash them down on the closest Earth-type planet, but the closest one was modeled after Mad Max, actually more Road Warrior, with a disease having ravaged the inhabitants and turning it post apocalyptic, and being ruled over by this cyborg despot called, Overdog (Micheal Ironside).
Peter Strause plays a Han Solo-type by the name of Wolff, a salvage operator with some military training, and these missing girls have a price, one that will make his everyday living conditions better, so he heads out to rescue them.
There are two actors in this I didn’t recall were in it, Ernie Hudson and Andrea Marcovicci. Hudson being just a year out from getting famous playing a ghostbuster in Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters (1984) and Marcovicci was in Larry Cohen’s The Stuff (1985), the film I knows most from. She plays an android named Chalmers, working with Wolff, but she’s only in the movie for about 20-minutes before she gets shot and “killed.” Hudson plays a fellow salvage operator, Washington, who’s also come to the planet looking to collect on the missing girls.
The darling of the 80s teen rom-coms this is Molly Ringwald’s movie debut, she plays Niki, a 14-year old native of this planet who dreams of one day getting off it and going to Earth. Her lingo is fairly messed up, since she was brought up in a world with no formal education. If you’re not familiar with 80s teen flicks filmmaker John Hughes was the king of them and she got immediately famous after doing three of his films, Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfest Club (1985), and Pretty In Pink (1986).
Spacehunter was part of that 3D craze in the 80s, so the opening credits are designed in that fashion as well as choice scenes where things are coming towards the camera. The effects in general are fairly well done, with Overdog’s cybernetic claws being a cool standout. Creature-wise there’s only two: a serpent-like worm and these weird, fat albino beings that hatch out of sacs. I don’t believe I had seen Ironside in anything else before this movie and only remember knowing about him through coverage of this flick in Starlog magazine.
Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone is available now on separate DVD and blu-ray editions, debuting for the first time Down Under on blu-ray, from Via Vision Entertainment! You can find it at Amazon Australia, JB Hi-Fi, EZYDVD, DVDLand and Sanity.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—2.0 English PCM—English subs only
Unfortunately the aspect ratio isn’t 2.35:1. Mill Creek Entertainment has this out here in the U.S. too, but it’s AR is also 1.78. If you want the film in its full 2.35 aspect ratio, you’ll have to seek out Sony’s 2001 out-of-print U.S. DVD. I don’t own Mill Creek’s disc, so I can’t compare the transfer, but Via Vision’s new blu is quite good! Personally, I like their cover art better than Mill Creek’s.
Extras included . . .