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Battle Beyond The Stars (1980)

In the film world, $5,000,000 is not a lot of money, but this was by far Roger Corman's most expensive B-movie to date. It was "inspired" by Star Wars and "The Magnificent 7" (including one of the latter's stars). A teen hero (Richard Thomas of "The Waltons") recruits a group of ragtag fighters and mercenaries to repel an invasion (by the ruthless Sador) of a peaceful planet. Sador has at his disposal a magaweapon called the Stellar Converter.

What drove the cost up were the computeried motion-control camera affects, and alien makeup by Steve Neill is excellent. But since Star Wars has a happy ending, Corman decided to surprise the audience - by killing all the good guys one by one before the closing credits!
Sharp-eyed Roger Corman fans can spot the expensive sets & special effects in a number of his cheapies that followed.

Robert Vaughn apparantly got the part due to his outstanding performance in "Starship Invasions" (1977), a low-budget Canadian movie in which Christopher Lee played a coneheaded alien and Vaughn an expert on UFOs.
Unfortunately for "Battle Beyond The Stars," two other movies came out in 1980: official Star Wars sequel "The Empire Strikes Back" and a big-budget Star Wars parody by Mel Brooks "Spaceballs" (for which Mel actually had Industrial Light & Magic do the special effects). MonsterVision review & host segments for Spaceballs

Cast:
Robert Vaughn (The Magificent 7, Man From UNCLE), John Saxon (Enter The Dragon's bad guy), George Peppard (Banacek, Damnation Alley), Darlanne Fluegel, Jeff Corey, Sybil Danning, Sam Jaffe (Day The Earth Stood Still)
Screenplay by John Sayles

Battle Beyond The Sun (1963)

Roger Corman bought the rights to a Russian sci-fi movie called "The Heavens Call," badly dubbed it into English and added ultra-cheap footage shot on a Hollywood backlot to make this confusing mess about Soviet cosmonauts who save American astronauts from certain death on Mars. In the original version, the astronauts were greedy capitalists out to win the space race at any cost (most of this plotline was edited out of the U.S. version). Now, they simply forgot to bring enough fuel for the return trip to Earth (oops), so the freindly Russians give them a ride home.

Battle Beyond The Worlds (1963)

Originally made in Italy as "Il Planeta degli Uomini Spenti" (1961), the main interest of this one is the presence of Claude Rains ("The Invisible Man"), who leads a crew in attempts to save the world from a planet that's on a collision course with us thanks to an alien computer. If they fail, I guess you could call it "Armageddon" (sorry).

Battle In Outer Space (1959)

The same team that produced Godzilla came up with this lackluster effort about Japanese astronauts exploring the lunar surface, who are captured by aliens who live on the dark side of the Moon and implanted with tiny brain-control devices. They return to Earth a set about sabotaging the Japanese space program. Directed by Inoshiro Honda, cast includes Harold Conway.

Not to be confused with "The Green Slime" (1969), in which an alien (an unidentified man in a "slime" suit), gets aboard a deepspace Japanese rocket and kills the crew one by one (sounds familiar somehow, the cast included Richard Jaeckel and Luciana Paluzzi).

Voyage Into Space (1969)

Fans consider this one of the funniest Japanese monster movies ever made, about a boy and his giant flying robot from space. Shot so quickly, a dead body is seen getting up a leaving in the background of one scene

Way...Way Out (1966)

Jerry Lewis and Connie Stevens are hired by NASA and sent to the Moon to beat the Russians (who have also sent a male-female team) in having the first baby in space. Apparently they are expected to have sex like rabbits in what The Golden Turkey Awards calls a "juvenile production with an oh-so-naughty premise." But to get the family audience, the resulting film is mostly boring.

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Fun fact:
James Cameron of Terminator and Titanic fame made the 1981 sequel to Roger Corman's original 1978 version of Piranha. He also did Battle Beyond the Stars (1980, additional photographer, as Jim Cameron) and another MonsterVision classic, Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979, as production assistant, uncredited, and miniature constructor/designer). The following year he was matte artist and special effects director of photography on John Carpenter's Escape From New York

Bill Laidlaw. All Rights Reserved