In Space No One Can Hear the Pasta Over-Boiling: Alfonso Brescia and the ’80s Italian Spacesploitation Invasion
A Retrospective of Italy’s Star Wars-inspired Film Industry and the Inspirations of George Lucas
A comprehensive list of ’80s spacesplotation films — inspired by Star Wars and Alien — appears at the end of this article.
It was all George Lucas’s fault. Well, not really. For, in the beginning, the celluloid gods created the Luke Skywalker precursors of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon.
The first “Luke Skywalkers”: Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon.
Enamored with a childhood exuberance for Universal’s twelve-chapter Buck Rogers movie-serial (edited into the 1939 theatrical feature Buck Rogers Conquers the Universe) and Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon books turned into three mini-serials (in 1936, 1938, and 1940; edited into the features Rocketship, Mars Attacks the World, and Conquers the Universe), George Lucas, flush with success from the film homage to his 1950s hot-rod youth, American Graffiti, had a dream: creating a big-budgeted, 2001: A Space Odyssey-inspired tribute to the beloved sci-fi hero of his childhood: Flash Gordon.
Cashing in on Buck and Flash: Buzz Corey, Commander Cody, and Rocky Jones.
To a lesser extent: Lucas was also inspired by the early Rocky Jones U.S TV serials, which were edited into features: 1953’s Forbidden Moon, Crash of the Moons, and Manhunt in Space, along with the Commander Cody movie serials, which were edited into 1949’s Lost Planet Airmen and 1952’s Radar Men from the Moon. Another Star Wars antecedent (never turned into feature films) was the 1951 to 1955 TV series Space Patrol with Commander Buzz Corey.
MGM’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Hammer Studios’ attempt — with Warner Bros. backing — at their own “2001” with the “outer space western,” Moon Zero Two (1969).
Today’s science fiction (and all) film critics regard 2001 as a classic; however, at the time of its release, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clark’s homage to the Russian space epics of the late ’50s and early ’60s (see Pavel Klushantsev’s and Mikhail Karzhukov’s films), while technically stunning, both entranced and frustrated film critics and film goers — most whom derided the film. (American actor Rock Hudson infamously stormed out of the film’s premiere and exclaimed, “What the hell is going on?”.)
Despite 2001’s ability to transcend its spiritual-and-psychological-confusing themes about a man’s journey through his “inner space” and find box-office success, the major studios held steadfast to their belief: science fiction was a low-budget genre lacking an analogues audience appeal to the westerns and war movies churned out by the majors. And it’s true: There were more inept Missile to the Moon’s (1958) and Mission Mars’s (1968) than there were Forbidden Planet’s (1956) and It! The Terror from Beyond Space’s (1958) on the big screen in the ’50s and ’60s. (Don’t get this writer started on the Earth-bound ones. Okay, just one: Beginning of the End (1957) — starring a giant back-projected grasshoppers’ invasion over photographs of Chicago. Just wow!)
The producers of Alien (1979) tired to banned It! The Terror from Beyond Space from TV syndication — so audiences wouldn’t see their “source materials.” Ironically, Alien wouldn’t have been made if Star Wars hadn’t been a hit; Alien itself begat a series of Pasta-monster spewing rip-offs. Of course, Roger Corman’s New World Picture produced their own economical variants of both films: Galaxy of Terror, Forbidden World, and Battle Beyond the Stars.
Despite George Lucas’s massive critical and financial success with his second movie, American Graffiti, and exhibiting ingenuity in the science fiction genre with his debut feature, THX 1138 (1971), the studios passed on his Flash Gordon-pitch remake. Also impeding Lucas’s dream: he couldn’t secure the rights to the source materials.
Undeterred, Lucas jumped into the kitchen and broke out the pasta pots to cook up his unique version of the beloved space heroes of his childhood in the form of Luke Skywalker; Lucas’s Emperor Ming was a black-cloaked samurai-inspired Darth Vader; his “Errol Flynn” was a smart-ass space jockey named Han Solo; his Dale Arden-inspired damsel: Princess Leia Organa.
And the studios still balked at the idea of Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker. Lucas’s idea of Flash Gordon crossed with 2001: A Space Odyssey (and its 1972 cinematic cousin, Silent Running) wasn’t going to happen — at least not within the Hollywood studio system.
So, flush with cash from the success of American Graffiti (and from his later innovations in film special effects and sound), he financed the 20 million dollar budget himself; Star Wars became the most expensively-produced independent movie of all time.
Meanwhile, as George Lucas developed his space opera, another young film maker, later to become one of the most successful American television producers in the ’80s, Glenn A. Larson, devised his biblically-influenced space opera: Adam’s Ark. And, as with Lucas, the studios balked at the idea. “Egyptian-influenced ancient astronauts?” exclaimed the cigar-chompin’ studio executive as he relaxed his shiny-wingtips on the edge of his desk. “Get your ‘Erich von Daniken’ the hell out of here, kid.”
In March of 1977, if Star Wars had been the expensive flop that the studio bean counters predicted, Glenn A. Larson’s vision — which became Universal Studios’ 20th Century Fox-counterprogramming Battlestar Galactica (1978) — wouldn’t have been made. And neither would have the beloved Italian space operas permeating the shelves of this writer’s teenaged, video-store n’ drive-in youth.
However, before the term “Italian Star Wars” entered into film journalism lexicon to describe the Lucas-inspired rip-offs of Luigi Cozzi’s Starcrash and Alfonso Brescia’s Star Odyssey (both 1979), there were the pre-Lucas visions of Antonio Margheriti — themselves inspired by the very same inventive and visually stunning Russian space epics that begat 2001: A Space Odyssey.
An Italian journeyman director (known under his Americanized pseudonym of Anthony M. Dawson) known for creating a unique, visual flair in cheaply knocked out horror films, also made numerous Biblical-Historical “peplum” flicks (Conan the Barbarian-styled sword n’ sandal epics inspired by such popular American films as The Ten Commandments and Spartacus). Then, when James Bond was all the rage, Margheriti created Eurospy knock-offs. Then he made his contributions to Italy’s Spaghetti Westerns cycle. As did any Italian director, Margheriti created his share of Giallo horror films that served as precursors to the American rip-off genre of “Slasher Films” in the 1980s.
When it comes to Italian sci-fi, Margheriti is noted as an innovator in his creation of Italian cinema’s first two outer space movies: 1960’s Space-Men (known as Assignment: Outer Space in American theatres) and 1961’s Il Pianeta degli uomini spenti/Planet of Extinct Men (known as Battle of the Worlds in English-speaking countries).
Since Margheriti exhibited Russian-styled innovations with those two films, despite their restrictive budgets (they were no 2001: A Space Odyssey by any means, but they weren’t a Plan 9 From Outer Space either), he was hired by the Great Lion of America, MGM Studios (ironically the “backers” of 2001), to create a series of four “Italian Space Movies” for direct syndication on American UHF television stations. In a shooting schedule that a major American film studio could never pull off today, Margheriti churned out all four films — back-to-back in three months.
Italy’s first “Star Wars” began in 1965. Known as the Gamma One series, Margheriti presented I Criminali della Galassia/Criminals of the Galaxy (Wild, Wild Planet in America; hey, it was a swingin’ sixties “go-go” thing), I Diafanoidi Vengono da Marte/The Diaphanoids Come from Mars (War of the Planets in America), l Pianeta Errante/Planet on the Prowl (War Between the Planets), and La Morte Viene dal Pianeta Aytin/Death Comes from the Planet Aytin (Snow Devils in America).
As with Space-Men and Planet of Extinct Men experiencing box-office success, the Gamma One series was a syndicated-ratings success on American television — MGM decided they wanted one more. So, upping the ante with a bigger budget, Margheriti teamed with revered Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku (war movie Tora! Tora! Tora!) to create a fifth film for the Gamma One series: The Green Slime (1968; aka Gamma One: Operation Outer Space).
Then Italian director Primo Zeglio decided: Why should Margheriti hog the kitchen? There’s room for one more cook! So, inspired by the old Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials, he produced an adaptation of a book from the Euro-popular Perry Rhodan space adventure series with Mission Stardust (1968).
And somewhere in the Mos Eisley Spaceport’s kitchen, between Margheriti’s and Zeglio’s boiling pots of space pasta, the French elbowed their way to the stove with their pre-Star Wars contribution, Barbarella (1968; starring a young Jane Fonda), and Le Monstre Aux Yeux Verts (1961; The Monster with Green Eyes, aka, Planet Against Us; an Italian co-production). Even the Italian director of several Hercules flicks, Pietro Francisci, jumped into the black hole with Missione Hydra/Mission Hydra (1968; Star Pilot).
It was after all of these mid-to-late ’60s Italian excursions into space that along came the vastly superior vision of Stanley Kubrick, which made The Green Slime look like . . . well, you know the putrid color and biological goo this writer is about to describe. If The Green Slime, with a budget that rivaled Margheriti’s first four Gamma One films looked like this . . . . How can the perpetually, financially strapped Italian film industry compete with Stanley Kubrick — with its literally Mattel-cum-Hasbro “toys in space” production design?
And that was the end of Italian Space Films.
Thus, 2001: A Space Odyssey holds the distinction — in a gullet-stifling glut of Italian rip-offs of every successful American movie known to man — to never be victimized by pasta-cloning.
So the Italian film industry stuck with the films they knew best, and could pull off with aplomb; thus came the retreads of the American films Spartacus, The Magnificent Seven, the James Bond film series, and Death Wish, etc. — the list goes on and on. If a film cleaned up at the box office in America, a pasta variant was in Euro-theatres with a year of the release of its English-language inspiration. (Don’t believe this writer? How many Italian reimages of the successful American films Alien, Conan the Barbarian, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and The Road Warrior can you name in sixty seconds — GO!)
There is no denying Star Wars is a story-telling and technical achievement that, almost immediately upon its March 1977 release, became the most successful movie ever made — with its two subsequent sequels achieving an estimated world-wild box office gross of a billion dollars. It can’t be denied: Lucas’s vision is the most influential movie ever produced.
However, Star Wars, when compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey, is cartoon-styled, childish goofiness. True, Lucas’s vision presented things on screen that young, impressionable film goers never seen before — and if we did, the rehashed elements were handled with such style that it had the “air” of originality. Regardless of their ingenuity and inventiveness against restrictive budgets and tight schedules, there was no way the Italian film industry could successfully execute the complex, introspective psychological insights of 2001.
Yes, Italy was the land of superior psychology-inspired storytelling courtesy of the inventive writing and directing of Federico Fellini (8 1/2 and Amarcord) and Michelangelo Antonioni (Blow Up or The Passenger), but neither of these “stars” of Italian cinema were dipping their toes into any cinematic black holes to go up against Kubrick. (It’s a shame they didn’t: that would be a hell of a sci-fi film.)
Courtesy of its Japanese The Hidden Fortress-inspired tale of epic battles rife with devil-may-car, risk-taking rogues and damsel-princess, Star Wars, unlike its Kubrickian antecedent, was easy to copy. Strip away the spaceships and lasers and Star Wars was no different than any of the American Westerns that the Italian film industry fleeced — and made American television actor Clint Eastwood into an international film star. So . . .
. . . Cue the John Williams-inspired orchestra.
. . . Cue the baritone announcer: “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far way. . . .”
. . . Cue the Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe-inspired opening title crawl.
Break out Mama Leone’s pasta pots . . . “Let’z a-make us-sa Star Wars!”
And the kitchen duties fell to Alfonso Brescia to create the first-out-of-the-gate “Spaghetti Wars.”
Under his Americanized director-nom de plume of Al Bradley, he presented 1977’s Anno Zero Guerra ello spazio/Year Zero War in Space (Cosmos: War of the Planets in America) to the Italian-cuisine loving world. Many sci-fi connoisseurs believe Brescia’s “Star Wars” debut isn’t so much a rip-off of Star Wars; they opine it’s a homage to another Italian space epic, one that was produced amid all of those Antonio Margheriti-spaghetti space operas: Mario’s Bava’s Terrore nello Spazio/Terror in Space (known in American theatres as Planet of Vampires; then in its U.S TV syndication as Demon Planet).
Terror in Space, though it was denied by the producers of Alien, was one of the film’s obvious, influential antecedents that, like It! The Terror from Beyond Space, they attempted to ban from TV syndication.
And they’re right: Look at the costuming, and alien-possession subplots of Bava’s and Brescia’s films for comparison. Adding to the celluloid confusion: Cosmos had similarly-influenced — if not the very same-recycled — costumes and sets as Margheriti’s films. In addition: Cosmos was also distributed as War of the Planets — which was the title of the second film of Margheriti’s Gamma One series.
Amid Cosmos’ self-recycled stock footage and shot-through-sheets-of-sepia-paper-and-cheese-cloth special effects, Cosmos also ineptly-lifted whole scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey (an astronaut completes an upside-down communication device repair-in-space) and Barbarella (sex via touching a “blue orb of light” between beds). The “plot” for those who fell asleep: Our heroes journey to a planet where a green-skinned race is subjugated by an evil computer . . . and the Earth’s Italian “Hal 9000”, “The Wiz,” is possessed by the evil alien computer. . . .
“Hey, this isn’t ‘Star Wars,’ this is ‘Star Dreck’,” said the scrawny, pimply-faced and horned-rimmed glassed twelve-year-old spaz in the theater’s darkness.
“Dude, this more like ‘Star S**t’,” replied his portly, mullet-haired, eleven-year-old sidekick. “Let’s use the rest of our money to go bowling next door.”
Believe it or not, with everyone tricked into believing they were seeing another “Star Wars,” Brescia’s debut-rip turned a profit. So he came back a second time with his “Empire Strikes Back” in the form of 1978’s Battaglie negli spazi stellar/Battle in Interstellar Space (Battle of the Stars in English-speaking countries; “sounds” suspiciously like “Battlestar Galactica”).
Unlike Cosmos (Italy’s “Star Wars I”), Italy’s “Star Wars II” suffered from poor theatrical distribution and a weak reissue via home video and TV syndication. And with all the alternate titling that plagues European films as they’re distributed to the international markets, spacesploitation buffs believed the almost-impossible-to-find Battle of the Stars was Cosmos — with a new title. It’s not. Battle of the Stars is an entirely new film that cannibalizes Cosmos for stock footage — and all the costumes and sets return. As is the case with most “sequels” (Alien/Aliens and Mad Max/The Road Warrior being the exceptions to the rule), Battle is a just remake/reimage of Cosmos — with a little script tweak: Instead of traveling to the planet-home of the evil computer, this time the rogue planet without-an-orbit comes to Earth, which . . . (so exhausting) was the plot of Margheriti’s Battle of the Planets. (See the confusion?)
Then, all of the one-piece spandex suits and pull-over head pieces were back for a third sequel in 1978’s La guerra dei robot/War of the Robots (Reactor in the international markets) with a society of gold-painted skin people pinch-hitting for the green folks from Cosmos. Also back: All of the stock SFX footage, costumes, and sets — and whole scenes lifted from the previous two films. The “plot,” such as it is, concerns gold Aryan robots with Dutch-boy haircuts on the brink of extinction that kidnap a couple of Earth scientists to save their planet. So a crack team of space marines (see Aliens; which wasn’t made yet!) are sent in for a rescue. What makes Reactor so utterly confusing: All of the same actors from the last two films come back — as different characters. So, it’s a “sequel” . . . then it’s not.
Mind you, George Lucas was still in production with the second Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) — and Brescia is already on his 4th sequel with 1979’s “The Gold Ayran Dutch Boy Robots” (joking) . . . but they really were back in Sette uomini d’oro nello spazi /Seven Gold Men in Space which, if you’re able to keep up with the alternate-titling of Italian films, became Star Odyssey for English-speaking audiences. All the footage and props are back (Brescia’s recycling is actually worse than the cheap n’ shameless footage, prop, and costume recycling from the Battlestar Galactica-Buck Rogers U.S TV axis) in the year 2312, where the Earth is referred to by evil aliens as “Sol 3.” “Darth Vader” is some guy in a (quite impressive) lizard skin mask (but it’s topped with a Farrah Fawcett-’70s feathered hair cut) that “buys” Earth in some inter-galactic auction to cultivate Earthlings as slaves to sell on the open market.
The “Han Solo” of this mess is some guy in a shiny-silver Porsche racing jacket and a funky, disco-inspired spider web tee-shirt contracted for a The Magnificent Seven-inspired recruitment of a rescue team of rogues. . . . (“Wait, didn’t Roger Corman make a space-version of The Magnificent Seven?” you ask. Yes, he did, and that was called Battle Beyond the Stars . . . I know, it’s confusing!). So, this Star Oh-Why-Am-I-Watching-This-Crap comes complete with its own R2D2 and C3PO in the form of a bickering male/female robot couple (the female has eye lashes and red lips) dealing with “sexual dysfunction” and “relationship issues.” And there’s a scrawny n’ skinny Han Solo-replicant acrobat who back flips and summersaults into battles — and makes a living fighting in boxing rings with Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots. (“Hey, wait. That sounds like 2001’s Real Steel?” you ponder. Yep!)
Oh, my god. Is this Italian Star Wars Film Festival over? Even in written form, this is painful. You’re killing us, R.D. Please, dear god, stop!
Sorry, kids. There’s more. And it gets worse.
Do you, the sci-fi film buff, remember the infamous X-rated Flash Gordon porn-flick, Flesh Gordon (1972)? Did you ever wonder: What if Reece and Ripley (and we know they did, off script and off camera) “got it on” in Aliens?
That was Brescia’s next opus — Porn Wars.
There’s George Lucas, killing the box office with The Empire Strikes Back, and Brescia responds with his “Star Wars V”: 1980’s La bestia nello spazio/The Beast in Space. The interesting twist to this “sequel”: it not only occurs in the same universe (courtesy of footage, costumes, props, sets, and actors recycling) continued from Star Odyssey, it’s also a “sequel” to an infamously popular Italian exploitation movie, The Beast (1975) — both films star noted erotic/exploitation actress Sirpa Lane. (Because of the success of The Beast, and her other erotic/exotic films, the Euro-press christened Lane with the affectionate stage name: “The Beast.” In the early days of her career, she was marketed as the next “Brigitte Bardot.”)
Issued in a “PG,” “R” and “X”-rated format, the “plot” concerns the Earth’s search of the cosmos for a rare element: Antallum, the key ingredient for bomb construction to basically kill off everyone in the universe. But that’s just a minor-plot irritation. The real story: The crew is “horny,” with chauvinistic men and slutty women astronauts seducing each other on their way to Lorigon to plunder the planet of its Antallum honey hole. Well, the planet’s sentient super-computer isn’t having any of that non-sense. That’s his Antallum. So “Hal 9000” sidetracks the Earthlings by inciting them to indulge in their deepest, darkest sexual desires. Did I mention the gold Aryan Dutch-boy robots are back as well?
After five “Star Wars” films in short three years, Brescia turned over the keys to the Millennium Falcon. His space opera career was over.
Via Wikipedia, according to Italian film historian Roberto Curti, in the pages of his 2013 book, Italian Crime Filmgraphy: 1968–1980, Brescia was one of the most prolific and versatile Italian filmmakers of the ’70s; a reliable “hack” that never lost money on a film.
After 1980’s The Beast in Space, Brescia continued to make non-science fiction films for the remainder of his career — 14 more films for the next 15 years. At the time of his retirement in 1995, he completed a career total of 51 films. Sadly, most of Brescia’s post-1980 work was primarily restricted to Italy-only distribution. His career took a financially-positive turn in the late-‘80s with the worldwide-distributed Iron Warrior (1987; the third in the hugely successful Italian rip-off series of Conan the Barbarian) and Miami Cops (1989; violent Miami Vice-inspired buddy-cop flick starring blaxsploitation and Euro film industry mainstay Richard Roundtree). Sadly, even with the success of Iron Warrior and Miami Cops, Brescia was unable to secure distribution for his self-financed final film, the 1995 action-comedy, Club Vacanze.
Alfonso Brescia, the king of the Star Wars-inspired spaghetti-space opera died, ironically, in 2001.
As an adult, I use my journalism skills to psychologically assuage the nostalgic waxing of my lost youth. Today, while my cranial hard drive has downloaded and upgraded its quality-control centers over the years, my heart is still pumping at a 1.0 — in its original teen version. So I can write an article that pokes fun at the Italian spaghetti-space operas of my youth — but still love them dearly.
Let the truth be known: I love your work (non-“Star Wars” included), Alfonso Brescia. You have my respect. So goes my Quixote quest to preserve the memories of the forgotten music and cinematic heroes of my youth. Hopefully, the Internet really is “forever” and this story will remain long after I am gone and someone in the distant future will remember Alfonso as result of my work. But I won’t lie to you. If you do watch Uncle Al’s Star Wars-epics, I suggest you keep a bottle of aspirin and six pack of beer next to the microwave-popcorn bag. And remember: Al was saddled with the cheapest budgets and pressure-shoot schedules that no film maker should endure in their careers.
As for me: When I first conceived the idea for this article Solo: A Star Wars Story bombed at the worldwide box office and was readying for its digital debut on VOD, Blu-ray, and DVD in late September 2018.
Sorry, Uncle Walt. I’ll have to pass on Han’s backstory. I’m going to watch an “Uncle Al’s Star Wars Marathon” instead.
— R.D Francis is the writer of The Ghosts of Jim Morrison, the Phantom of Detroit, and the Fates of Rock ’n’ Roll and Tales from a Wizard: The Oral History of Walpurgis, both which explore the life and times of the musician responsible for the mysterious 1974 Jim Morrison “solo album,” Phantom’s Divine Comedy: Part 1 — and came to replace Jim Morrison in the Doors.
You can learn more about the Phantom with supplement articles by R.D Francis on Medium.com.
R.D Francis has also published two Gothic horror novels: The Devil’s Anatomy and The Small Hours, along with the upcoming, Luminosity, a science-fiction adventure. Each is available in Print-on-Demand softcopies and eBooks at all eRetailers.
You can learn more about the Phantom’s career (with photos) and book purchasing information by visiting the Facebook Author’s Page for R.D Francis.
Before Some Kind of Monster (2004) and Through the Never (2013) there was Metallica’s infamous “debut” film. Once Star Odyssey fell into the public domain, it was open season on Brescia’s work. Mogul Communications — with a seemingly blatant attempt to ride the coattails of the iconic thrash band’s then successful third album, Master of Puppets — reissued Star Odyssey in 1987, in the hope the band’s teen fans thought they were buying a Metallica concert film or a cool sci-fi film with a thrash-metal soundtrack.
How desperate (and unashamed) were studios at grabbing a slice of the Star Wars pie? Notice Star Wars’ famous X-Wing Fighters and Millennium Falcon going into battle against dinosaurs and artist Frank Frazetta.
The Ultimate ’80s Star Wars and Alien Spacesploitation Film List
If not for the success of George Lucas’s space opera, most of these post-1977 films would not have been produced. All of the films on this list are considered as inspired by Star Wars, except for those with “a” notations for their obvious Alien influence — a film that was produced by 20th Century Fox as a direct response to their unexpected success with Star Wars.
All films are listed in alphabetical order by film title (alternate titles provided, if any), date of release, notable director & lead actor (in needed), and country of origin. Viewer notes in parentheses are followed by review asterisks *
* Hey, it’s your life to waste
** Eh, I guess so . . . but you’ve been warned
*** There are worst things to watch
**** Go get your popcorn and soda
Space: 1999 Alien Attack
Space: 1999 II — 1979 — Britian
(Season 1’s “Breakaway” and “War Games” edited as a foreign theatrical ***)
Alien II — 1980 — Luigi Cozzi — Italy
(The alien eggs are brought to Earth and make a mess **a)
The Alien Dead
It Fell from the Sky — 1980 — Fred Olen Ray — Buster Crabbe — USA
(“Flash Gordon” fights Earth-zombies spawned from Alien eggs *a)
Alien Intruder — 1992 — Billy Dee Williams — USA
(Lando C. heads up a low-budget The Dirty Dozen in space *)
The Falling — 1984 — Spain
(Alien meets The Predator rip-off; with a guy from Endless Love *a)
Alien Terminator — 1995 — USA
(Earth-bound Alien-cum-The Terminator hybrid *a)
The Amazing Captain Nemo
The Return of Captain Nemo
Adventure in Atlantis
Captain Nemo: Mission Atlantis
Captain Nemo’s Trip to Atlantis — 1978 — Jose Ferrer
(Underwater Star Wars; U.S TV mini-series/foreign theatrical *)
An Android Is Being Hunted
Time Runner — 1977/78 — USA
(1974 TV series The Questor Tapes/foreign theatrical/telefilm **)
Android — 1982 — USA
(Klaus Kinski goes nuts on a space station ***)
Arena — 1989 — Charles Band — Italy
(Rocky meets Star Wars ***)
Battle Beyond the Stars — 1980 — Roger Corman — John Saxon — USA
($5 million-crib of The Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven ***)
Battle of the Stars
Battle in Interstellar Space
Battlestar in Space
War in Space — 1978 — Alfonso Brescia — Italy
(2nd in the series; sequel: War of the Robots **)
Galactica: Spaceship of Combat
Galactica: The Battle of the Stars — 1978 — Glenn A. Larson — USA
(Much hyped U.S TV clone edited as a foreign theatrical ***)
The Beast in Space — 1980 — Alfonso Brescia — Italy
(Al’s 5th and final; Han and Leia get it on! **)
Bioharzard — 1984 — Fred Olen Ray — USA
(Sequel: Biohazard: The Alien Force; remake: Deep Space *a)
The Black Hole — 1979 — USA
(Robert Forster is Han Solo in Disney’s space romp***)
Brave New World — 1980 — Keir Dullea — Canada
(Huxley’s book; plastic The Martian Chronicles-vibe **)
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century — 1979 — Glenn A. Larson — USA
(Battlestar Galactica TV clone cut as a foreign theatrical ***)
The Bunglers in the Planet Wars
The Bunglers in the War of the Planets
Os Trapalhões na Guerra dos Planetas
Brazilian Star Wars — 1978 — Brazil
(Brazil’s “The Three Stooges” in stock footage rip off *)
Bye, Bye Jupiter
Operation Jupiter — 1984 — Koji Hashimoto (d) — Japan
(2140; ancient carvings on Mars; Jupiter turns into a new sun ***)
Conquest of the Earth
Galactica: The End of an Odyssey
Galactica III: Conquest of the Earth
Conquest of the World: Galactica — 1981 to 1982 — USA
(Episodes of U.S TV series Galactica: 1980 cut as foreign theatrical **)
Space: 1999 Cosmic Princess
Space:1999 IV — 1982 — Britain
(Season 2’s “The Metamorph” and “Space Warp”/foreign theatrical ***)
Cosmos: War of the Planets
Year Zero War in Space
Cosmo 2000: Planet without a Name
Battle of the Stars II
War of the Planets — 1977 — Alfonso Brescia — Italy
(1st of the five-part series; sequel: Battle of the Stars **)
Creature — 1985 — William Malone — Klaus Kinski — USA
(The best of the Alien knockoffs; w/an unstable-cool Klaus ****a)
Dark Side of the Moon — 1989 — USA
(Joe Turkel from Blade Runner with Satan as the “alien” **a)
Destination: Moonbase Alpha
Space: 1999 Moonbase Alpha
Space 1999: I — 1978 — Britain
(Season 1’s two part “The Bringers of Wonder”/foreign theatrical ***)
Escape from Galaxy 3
Giochi erotici nella terza galassia
Erotic Games in the Third Galaxy
Starcrash II — 1981 — Spain/Italy
(Soft-core Star Wars meets Superman w/Starcrash SFX footage recycled *)
Flash Gordon — 1980 — USA
(Barbarella-inspired Star Wars backwash-cash in from big studio ***)
Mutant — 1982 — Roger Corman — Jesse Vint — USA
(Faux Galaxy of Terror rehash/pseudo-sequel **a)
Galaxina — 1980 — USA
(Princess Leia-robot in a “very” soft-core porn comedy *)
Galaxis — 1995 — Brigitte Neilson — USA
(Red Sonja on a Conan-cum-Star Wars tear *)
Galaxy of Terror
Planet of Terror
Planet of Horrors
Mindwarp: An Infinity of Terror — 1981 — Roger Corman — USA
(An alien mind-reads a space crew’s fears/makes nightmares real ***a)
The Ice Pirates — 1984 — USA
(Robert Urich is Han Solo in a comedic galaxy without water **)
Hawk the Slayer — 1980 — Britain
(A sword n’ sorcery epic meets the space opera *)
Inseminoid — 1980 — Britain
(Monster rapes female astronaut, gives birth **a)
Cosmos King — 1979 — Aldo Lado — Richard “Jaws” Kiel — Italy
(Another noted Giallo director goes Star Wars **)
Gremlords — 1984 — USA
(A Star Wars parody w/o the soft-core Galaxina touches *)
In the Dust of Stars
Im Staub der Sterne — 1977 — Gottfried Kolditz — Germany
(Space: 1999-inspired; astronauts help an oppressed alien society ****)
Invasion: UFO — 1980 — Britain
(Several episodes of the U.F.O ’70-’73 TV series/foreign theatrical ***)
Journey Through the Black of the Sun
Black Sun: The Death Planet Intervenes
Space 1999 III — 1982 — Britain
(Season 1’s “Collision Course” and “Black Sun”/foreign theatrical ***)
Killer Satellites — 1985 — Gary Lockwood — USA
(1971 TV film/pilot Earth II/foreign theatrical/telefilm **)
Krull — 1983 — Peter Yates — Britain
(Conan the Barbarian goes space opera/Heaven’s Gate-like bomb **)
The Last Starfighter — 1984 — USA
(Teen rebel recruited to be Luke Skywalker via an Earth video game ****)
The Last Survivors
Dead and Gone — 1977/78 — Peter Graves — USA
(1974 TV movie Where Have All the People Gone/foreign theatrical **)
Laserblast — 1978 — Charles Band — USA
(Troubled teen finds alien weapon in a Close Encounters/Star Wars hybrid *)
Vampires from Outer Space — 1985 — Tobe Hooper — Britain
(Space vampires a ride comet to Earth and suck souls ****a)
The Man Who Saves the World
Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam
Turkish Star Wars — 1982 — Turkey
(Rife with stolen SFX footage from Star Wars *)
The Martian Chronicles — 1979 — USA
(TV adaptation; foreign theatrical of Ray Bradbury’s superior book ***)
Masters of the Universe
He-Man: Master of the Universe — 1987 — USA
(Mattel’s Conan the Barbarian-toy goes space opera ***)
Message from Space — 1978 — Japan
(The Magnificent Seven rip/Spanish space-galleon sailing solar winds **)
Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn — 1983 — USA
(Han Solo on a The Road Warrior-inspired planet ***)
Meteor — 1979 — USA
(Big studio Star Wars-cash grab about Earth’s end **)
Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack
Mission Galactica: The Final Attack
Battlestar Galactica II — 1979 to 1983
(Foreign theatrical edit of TV series w/Commander Cain story arc ****)
Moon 44 — 1990 — Roland Emmerich — Micheal Pare — Germany
(Star Wars/Outland hybrid about a space cop ***)
Lunnaya raduga — 1983 — Vladmir Karpichev — Russia
(Astronauts develop super powers via a space phenomenon ****)
Moonraker — 1979 — British
(James Bond goes into space; fights Richard “Jaws” Kiel ***)
Murder in Space — 1985 — USA
(Sherlock Holmes meets ’80s TV plastic-Buck Rogers *)
Nightflyers — 1987 — Britain
(A possessed “Hal 9000” kills space ship’s crew *a)
Heroes: Lost in the Dust of Stars — 1977 — Rainer Erier — Germany
(Multinational crew returns to a decimated Earth ***)
The Orion Loop
Petlya Oriona (Orion Loop) — 1980 — Vasily Levin — Russia
(Astrological phenomenon in space affects a ship’s crew ****)
Outland — 1981 — Peter Hyams — Sean Connery — USA
(Star Wars crossed with High Noon ****)
Planet of the Dinosaurs — 1978 — USA
(Luke and Han fight dinosaurs on an uncharted planet *)
Saturn 3–1980 — Kirk Douglas — USA
(Adam and Eve goes into space *a)
Scared to Death
The Terror Factor — 1980 — William Malone — USA
(The Fly meets Alien; sequel Syngenor ***a)
The Shape of Things to Come — 1980 — Jack Palance — Canada
(Nothing to do with H.G Wells/low-level Buck Rogers-styled SFX *)
Star Fire — 1990 — Japan
(Rip of a ’70s American disaster film about exploding sun **)
Space Battleship Yamato — 2010 — Japan
(Live-action version of iconic ’70s TV anime ****)
Space Hunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone — 1983 — USA
(The awesome Peter Strauss is Han Solo ****)
Mutiny in Space
Space Mutiny: Dual in the Cosmos
Battlestar Galactica: Space Mutiny
The Southern Son — 1987 — Cameron Mitchell/Reb Brown — South Africa
(Cam in a Commander Adama get-up with BSG stock shots *)
Proxima Centauri 3: Revolt in Space
Spacerage: Breakout on Prison Planet
A Dollar a Day — 1985 — USA
(Han Solo as an old man; fetches escapees on a prison planet *)
Battle Beyond the Stars II — 1983 — Roger Corman — Vince Edwards — USA
(Han Solo totes an annoying little kid through space *)
The Creature Wasn’t Nice
Naked Space — 1981 — Leslie Nielson — USA
(Alien crossed with Airplane!-cum-Naked Gun *a)
Space Truckers — 1996 — Stuart Gordon — Dennis Hopper — Britain
(Star Wars meets Alien action/comedy; from Reanimator director **)
Star Wars II
Starcrash: The Adventures of Stella Star
Starcrash: Clash of the Galaxies
The Adventures of Stella Star
Star Battle Encounters — 1979 — Luigi Cozzi — Italy
(Barbarella meets Star Wars **)
The Death Galaxy — 1985 — USA
(Gooey-bad alien meets gooey-good alien **a)
Starflight: The Plane That Couldn’t Land — 1983 — Lee Majors — Canada
(Airport ’77-styled disaster flick in space *)
The Starlost: The Beginning — 1980 — Keir Dullea — Canada
(1973; Space: 1999-like TV series/“Voyage of Discovery” and “Lazarus from the Mist”/1st foreign telefilm edit/features Silent Running-like bio-dome starship **)
The Starlost: The Deception — 1980
(Episodes “Mr. Smith of Manchester” and “Gallery of Fear”/2nd telefilm **)
The Starlost: The Invasion — 1980
(“Astro-Medics” and “The Implant People”/3rd telefilm **)
The Starlost: The Return — 1980
(“The Pisces” and “Farthing’s Comet”/4th telefilm **)
The Starlost: The Alien Oro — 1980
(“The Alien Oro” and “Return of Oro”/5th telefilm **)
Starship Invasions — 1977 — Christopher Lee — Canada
(Earth scientists helps good aliens fight bad aliens *)
Seven Gold Men in Space
Metallica — 1979 — Alfonso Brescia — Italy
(4th the series; sequel: The Beast in Space; yes, the Metallica title is real **)
Battle Beyond the Stars III
The Adventures of Tara: Part 1–1994 — Fred Olen Ray — USA
(Women-in-prison; sets/ships recycled from Battle Beyond the Stars *)
Starship: The Space Warrior
Lorca and the Outlaws
Redwing — 1985 — Austrailia
(A Tatoonie mining colony uprising with robots *)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture — 1979 — USA
(2001-ish film version/film series of iconic U.S TV series ***)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — 1982 — USA
(A more Star Wars-action oriented sequel ****)
Test Pilot Pirx
The Inquest of Pilot Pirx
Doznanie pilota Pirksa — 1978 — Poland
(Astronaut on trial for the loss of his crew ****)
The Thing — 1982 — John Carpenter — Kurt Russell — USA
(Star Wars-cum-Alien-inspired remake of 1952’s The Thing ****a)
Through Hardship to the Stars
Through the Thorns to the Stars
Per Aspera Ad Astra — 1981 — Richard Vikorov — Russia
(A corrupt alien government involved in war profiteering **)
Tron — 1982 — USA
(Computer-generated world that owes it life to Star Wars ****)
2010: The Year We Make Contact — 1984 — Peter Hyams — Roy Scheider
(Sequel to 2001 that owes it life to Star Wars ****)
V — 1983
(Aliens come to Earth — owes its life to Star Wars ***)
V: The Final Battle — 1984
(The sequel; a short-lived U.S TV series followed ***)
War In Space — 1977 — Jun Fukuda (director) — Japan
(Venus attacks! Space cruisers resemble oceanic aircraft carriers ****)
War of the Robots
Cosmos: War of the Robots
Stratostars — 1979 — Alfonso Brescia — Italy
(3rd in the series; sequel: Star Odyssey **)
Yor, the Hunter from the Future — 1983 — Antonio Margheriti — Italy
(Sword n’ sorcery and sandals goes space opera w/Reb Brown *)
Honorable Mentions: Television Series
Jason of Star Command — 1978 to 1981 — USA
(Sequel to Space Academy; cool asteroid space station in both series ***)
Space Academy — 1977 — USA
(Cousin to 1974’s TV series Ark II; followed by Jason of Star Command **)
Honorable Mentions: Additional Reading
Learn more about the behind-the-scenes makings of 1970s science fiction films and television series, and reminisce about the era’s space toys and model kits with the blogs Space: 1970 and Moonbase Central.
This blog is dedicated to the science fiction films and television series of the 1970s - give or take a few years (say…