I love science fiction. I love lo-fi and low tech production. I love cultural mashups in art and design, so naturally I love spaghetti science fiction.
I have discovered this sub-genre fairly recently. My introduction was Starcrash (or Female Space Invaders) made in 1973 starring Bond girl Caroline Munro and the architect of the fall of the Berlin wall and celebrity drunken burger-eater David Hasselhoff. On most rational levels of critique this film is a fail. Atrocious acting, bad CGI, an unintelligible plot, bad dialogue – all equate to a poor film. Yet Starcrash is amazing. The seventies aesthetic, the bad CGI, the derivative and unintelligible plot devices, the crazy set design and leatherette outfits, the bad dialogue; they all add up to create an amazing future-camp movie experience complete with deadly laser eye helmets, robotic assassins, space cops, outlaw smugglers and deep spiritual alien types. And did I forget to mention the appearance of Christopher Plummer in a ridiculous outfit phoning in a portentous monologue while probably thinking of the new patio he’ll get with his fee.
I was so impressed with Starcrash it was added to my very small list of films I have reduced down to GIF files:
The sixties and seventies saw many films produced in Italy, I presume because of cheap production costs and possibly to get round union issues – that is definitely the case for many of the spaghetti westerns shot in Italy and Spain – it was much cheaper to shoot in Europe with European actors and extras. What I never realized is that the Italian film industry also was a dab hand at knocking out science fiction too. Not exactly art, they would have Fellini spinning in his grave, but nonetheless for purveyors of cinematic trash a film such as Starcrash has it’s own qualities.
Bad sets, camp overtones (especially in the case of Starcrash) blatant plagiarism (Darth Vader clone ‘Lord Graal’ in The Humanoid) a bond girl (Caroline Munro in Starcrash and Barbara Bach in The Humanoid), a complete lack of any pacing, character development or plot all seem to be the touchstones of a classic spaghetti science fiction.
Below are trailers to three spaghetti science fiction films I have had the pleasure of watching recently. All three are unique in their own special way.
Starcrash, ultra camp future space adventures:
The Humanoid: Stars ‘Jaws’ from the Bond films and has an incredible Darth Vader rip:
2019: After the fall of New York: Quite an epic film managing to rip Mad Max, Escape from New York and probably a load of other seminal sci fi films: