By 1980 Star Wars had become much more than a franchise. It had taken over pop culture and everyone was trying to cash in on this highly lucrative phenomenon.
Legendary B- movie producer, Roger Corman, was no exception. His low budget “homage” to Star Wars was the movie, Battle Beyond The Stars. The film was basically a retelling of “The Seven Samurai/ Magnificent Seven” in outer space. It was made on a modest budget of two million dollars (compared to Star Wars’ 11 million dollar budget) and has since gone on to become a cult classic. Indeed, the strong following has managed to keep the film alive for thirty years.
Even with the meager 2-million-dollar budget, Roger Corman somehow managed to bring in some Hollywood heavy hitters for this film such as, Richard Thomas who played Shad (a farm boy /Skywalker type) who must recruit mercenaries to help fight off the evil tyrant Sador (played by John Saxon from Enter The Dragon fame). Some of the mercenaries were played by Hollywood veterans like Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E./ Magnificent Seven) as Gelt, and George Peppard (The A-Team) as Cowboy. Of course, every B-movie must have a sexy siren and Sybill Danning fit that bill so she was hired to play Saint-Exminn.
As impressive as the cast was, there were some pretty big up and comers working behind the scenes of Battle Beyond The Stars. The art director was none other than, James Cameron (Terminator, Titanic, Avatar), the film’s musical score was composed by James Horner (Titanic, Avatar) and the screenplay was written by John Sayles (Lonestar, Piranha). Rounding out the talented crew, was the assistant to the production team, Gale Ann Hurd (Terminator, The Walking Dead).
I don’t believe anyone working on Battle Beyond The Stars thought that the film would surpass Star Wars, however the cast and crew didn’t allow the budget or time constraints of the movie to hinder their performances which is what makes the film so endearing. It’s a testament to the love of film making and story telling. It goes to show that, if you believe in and love what you do; it will shine through and this is what Battle Beyond The Stars does, it shines even though the film is a low tech wonder made with blood, sweat and tears.
With the right frame of mind, and a couple of good friends, Battle Beyond The Stars is a blast to watch; at least once in your life.
The bottom line: Battle Beyond The Stars is a cult classic that is a campy, cheesy homage to Star Wars but its a whole lot of fun to watch.
Who knows, without Battle Beyond The Stars, if we would have ever achieved such future classics like Terminator, Titanic and The Walking Dead.