Monsters, Science Fiction

Star Slammer (1986)

Comments Off on Star Slammer (1986) 25 July 2017

star slammer

Studio: Kino

VHS Release: February 1988

Blu Ray Release: July 11, 2017

Director: Fred Olen Ray

R

Review by James Klein

Having directed close to 150 movies (as of this writing) Fred Olen Ray is no stranger to churning out quick, profitable exploitation films. Like Roger Corman, Ray has directed and produced hundreds of sci-fi and horror films on a shoe-string budget. While it is easy to mock and look down upon his amateurish productions, Ray has made a mark for himself in the genre world and has made such exploitation pictures like Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Scalps, The Alien Dead, Bikini Drive-In, Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold  and more recently the Steven Seagal action film Sniper: Special Ops. If you rolled your eyes at any of these titles that I listed, chances are you won’t like Star Slammer

This futuristic tale, presented like a 1930’s serial, centers on the Amazonian warrior Taura (Sandy Brooke from Deep Space) who helps an elderly priest that has some valuable crystals in his possession from being attacked by the evil Bantor (Ross Hagan from Angel). When Bantor kills the priest but succumbs to having his hand severely burned by Taura, he captures Taura and takes her aboard a prison spaceship where she is accused of killing the elderly priest and sentenced to stay in jail. 

During Taura’s stay in this space prison, she is forced to deal with the evil warden (Marya Grant from A Polish Vampire in Burbank) and her second in command, the sinister one-eyed Muffin (Dawn Wildsmith from Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers) who likes to torture the female convicts by placing giant eel-like creatures on their bodies, sucking their blood. There is a blink-and-you-will-miss-him cameo by Aldo Ray as a deformed chief of torture. In fact, the film is loaded with so many bad guys that the film is overloaded with villains. Everyone seems to be evil except Taura and when she isn’t taking her shirt off, she is fighting off these evil doers, trying her best to get out of jail. 

Star Slammer is a strange movie and the tone is all over the place. Part women-in-prison and part post-apocalypse, Star Slammer is an odd assortment of cartoonish violence, nudity, and inappropriate comedy that maybe a 10 year old boy would find funny. Why does the one prisoner suddenly break into song with a harmonica? Why does Taura run into frame, change her shirt, and then run off? What is up with the subplot about The Sovereign, a know it all ruler who seems more concerned about missing crystals than anything else in the jail? I was kind of lost most of the time and just watched for boobs and practical make up effects. Unfortunately, the movie could have used more of both. 

I also need to mention the music score by Anthony Harris. God, did it suck. The main “theme” is just the first few notes from the John William’s Indiana Jones score played over and over again. During a brawl in the cafeteria (all women-in-prison films need a fight in the cafeteria) the film’s score is suddenly filled with jazz music and saxophones. It’s so jarring that what little patience I had with Star Slammer is soon out the door. I can take bad acting and cheap production values but sometimes a bad soundtrack can be more irritating and enough to put me over the edge.

For a B-rated sci-fi film, Kino’s blu ray looks really awesome. This newly remastered version of Star Slammer (or The Adventures of Taura: Prison Ship Star Slammer as the opening credits claim the film’s actual title is) is clean and crisp, a sharp picture indeed. The transfer looks so good it actually enhances the film’s low budget where one can see the outlines of make up on the actors. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the picture looked. The 2.0 DTS sound mix didn’t impress as dialog was muffled with hisses and pops filling the soundtrack., I would have preferred to have an emphasis on the dialog than listen to Anthony Harris’s awful score. The only special feature is an audio commentary track by Fred Olen Ray who gives some great insight on the making of the film, what he did to cut and save costs, and working with some of the actors on the film. A great listen, the movie may be best watched with the commentary track on. 

While not terrible or the worst film I have ever seen, Star Slammer isn’t very good. I can’t fault the film’s budgetary constraints as I feel sometimes a lower budget can help creativity among film makers. That’s not the case here. Cheap costumes, limited sets, bad acting, convoluted story…just slam the door on Star Slammer and move on. 

Movie Rating: ★½☆☆☆ 

Blu Ray Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

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