Battle Beyond the Stars: Seven Samurai... in spaaaaaaace!
January 19, 2013 7:28 PM   Subscribe

If you're sad that there's no Seven Samurai-inspired Star Wars movie in the foreseeable future, or if you want to view James Cameron's first feature film special effects, or early soundtrack work by James Horner, look no further than Battle Beyond the Stars (full film on YT; Wikipedia), Roger Corman's 1980 film that was inspired by Star Wars and Seven Samurai (by way of The Magnificent Seven).

A month after the movie was released, People magazine published an article noted that the film was Corman's most expensive to date, and credited Corman with nurturing more 'A' talent than anyone else in Hollywood. Stomp Tokyo looked further into the cast and crew of BBTS, and summarized the movie, too.

Beyond providing breaks for both Cameron and Horner in this film, Battle Beyond the Stars brought together Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd, who would go on to respectively write and produce Terminator and Aliens. The couple were married between movies, and though their marriage didn't last, they continued to work together on films.

Corman was never one to waste resources, and reused some of the spacecraft in his 1983 film Space Raiders (YT playlist; Wikipedia) and a few other super-low budget films. But a more impressive "adaptive reuse credit" comes from some have said that Battle Beyond the Stars probably influenced the Star Control series of video games, noting the "themes and the matching of disparate races and ships are quite similar to those depicted in the film."

Bonus timesink: Battle Beyond the Stars on TV Tropes
posted by filthy light thief (46 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love that movie.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:30 PM on January 19, 2013


If you're a Netflix subscriber, I think you can also stream Battle Beyond the Stars.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:30 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


No seriously, it's like a romantic thing. I want to marry it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:30 PM on January 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Tangential link: BBtS is #5 of 7 in the Empire Online list of sci-fi remakes of old, old stories, titled: It’s That Story You Like…But In Space!
posted by filthy light thief at 7:33 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's also the more recent anime, which sets the Seven Samurai in a sci-fi realm.
posted by Atreides at 7:43 PM on January 19, 2013


John Saxon (Enter the Dragon), Richard Thomas (John Boy from The Waltons), George Peppard (The A Team) and Sybil Danning (Chained Heat). This is the A-List of 1980 (not 80s, just 1980) awesome. Except John Boy, whose presence increases the awesome to 11.
posted by zippy at 7:47 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Roger Corman is an institution. We'll all be the poorer when he finally dies.

I'm glad the Academy finally recognized him with an award.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:50 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love that movie. I love seeing bits of that movie in other movies.

Also: VWARP! VWARP! VAH-VAH-VAH-VWAAAAAAARP!
posted by Artw at 7:58 PM on January 19, 2013


Atreides, do you mean Samurai 7 from 2004? That's the "steampunk" Seven Samurai, not quite sci-fi. I really enjoyed the episodes I saw of it, but I never watched it all.

zippy, Wikipedia currently states "much of the budget allegedly went toward paying the salaries of George Peppard and Robert Vaughn," but with [citation needed].

Chocolate Pickle, he's been getting some recognition since 1964, and his studio, New World Pictures, won more Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film than all other studios combined, in a ten-year period. (Wiki citation, not an actual list of the awards won). Corman founded the studio in 1970 and it became a small independently owned production/distribution studio, and the distribution side of New World brought many foreign films to mass audiences in the United States for the first time, including the works of Ingmar Bergman, François Truffaut, Federico Fellini, and Akira Kurosawa.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:58 PM on January 19, 2013


If you're a Netflix subscriber, I think you can also stream Battle Beyond the Stars.

Can and did and will again.
posted by Artw at 7:59 PM on January 19, 2013


I love seeing bits of that movie in other movies.

I'd love to see a Roger Corman Film Database, with cross-referencing for elements of his films re-used in other films. It would be amazing.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:00 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


In our house this movie is titled John-Boy Walton & the Space-Uterus.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 8:00 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


That uterus has boobs!
posted by Artw at 8:01 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


do you mean Samurai 7 from 2004? That's the "steampunk" Seven Samurai

... No.

Japanese SF/F is hard to grok at times, their notion of time and space and genre is very fluid. While there is an element of pre-industrial in the series, there is nothing steampunk about Kikuchiyo apart from the random bursts of actual steam. The dude is not coal-fired, all I'm saying.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:08 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can totally hear Star Trek II in the opening theme. It's almost shameless.
posted by bicyclefish at 8:16 PM on January 19, 2013


This has gone unwatched as one of the 230+ rotating selections in my Netflix queue for some time now, but this post has inspired me to watch it first thing tomorrow morning. Thanks, flt.
posted by item at 8:18 PM on January 19, 2013


Slap*Happy, but you are talking about Samurai 7, right? It's been years since I've seen it, and I remembered some clunky mecha. Reading some plot summaries, it looks like the series is set in the far distant future, on a planet that might have been called "Earth", there was a war between samurais who mechanized their bodies. But isn't the world a weird mash-up of "feudal" era style and futuristic cyborg elements?

bicyclefish, the Filmtracks article on Horner linked above the fold talks to this:
In and around all the obvious borrowings from Goldsmith's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Alien, and even A Patch of Blue in Battle Beyond the Stars are the fledgling ideas that would later be fleshed out in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Aliens, Cocoon, and even Willow. The raw enthusiasm written into this score is something that slowly taped off as Horner matured, however, leaving classically complex compositions that have rarely matched the brute excitement heard in this 1980 work.
If you dig details on soundtracks, the article (and the site) are great.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:22 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


God I remember loving that movie when I was a kid. Thanks for the memories.
posted by immlass at 8:28 PM on January 19, 2013


In and around all the obvious borrowings from Goldsmith's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Alien, and even A Patch of Blue in Battle Beyond the Stars are the fledgling ideas that would later be fleshed out in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Aliens, Cocoon, and even Willow.

TBH I pretty much assumed Corman grabbed someone who could score music off the street and got them to write something similar to, but legally distinct from, the Star Trek score.
posted by Artw at 8:33 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw this at the cinemas, VHS, and most recent DVD.
It holds up surprisingly well given its peers.

And Star Control II remains up there as one of my favourite computer games ever. Even if I never did stop the Ur Quan plot.
posted by Mezentian at 9:02 PM on January 19, 2013


Wait... that Stomp Tokyo link mentions the Marvel Star Wars but completely snubs Jaxxon.
Does that seem right to you?
posted by Mezentian at 9:12 PM on January 19, 2013


A fun B-movie. I'd say Corman got his $2 million worth, and then some. I always get a kick out of the night-before-battle scene, with George Peppard playing "Red River Valley" on the harmonica and roasting weenies, and the two Kelvins serving as a "campfire."

Re: people involved with the film who went on to bigger & better things - I think I knew at one point, but had forgotten until re-reading the film's IMDB page, that John Sayles wrote the screenplay for this, one of several he did early in his career for Corman.

I know Corman is still making pictures - his IMDB page lists 400(!) producing credits, with three movies set to come out this year - but I'm curious if there's anyone who'd be his present-day equivalent for today's direct-to-DVD market, producing entertaining cheap movies with a good eye for talent. Any of you MeFi-ite movie buffs have recommendations?
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 9:26 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


John Saxon (Enter the Dragon), Richard Thomas (John Boy from The Waltons), George Peppard (The A Team) and Sybil Danning (Chained Heat). This is the A-List of 1980 (not 80s, just 1980) awesome. Except John Boy, whose presence increases the awesome to 11.

How did you get through that list and not mention Robert Vaughn?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:30 PM on January 19, 2013


How did you get through that list and not mention Robert Vaughn?

Because he was the only actor in the cast who seemed like a sensible casting choice.
posted by zippy at 9:51 PM on January 19, 2013


Beyond the stars?!

WTF did I just watch?!?
posted by mazola at 11:35 PM on January 19, 2013


Don't forget Samurai 7, which I think is also technically in spaaaace!
posted by nicebookrack at 12:00 AM on January 20, 2013


John Saxon (Enter the Dragon), Richard Thomas (John Boy from The Waltons), George Peppard (The A Team) and Sybil Danning (Chained Heat)...

I think I now know the stars that the battle is beyond.
posted by mazola at 12:04 AM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, one might note that there has been a "Star Trek" episode at least loosely based on "The Magnificent Seven." It might be more, uh, humorous than one might prefer, but I happen to like it: "The Magnificent Ferengi," episode 10 of the excellent season 6 of Deep Space Nine.

And, yeah - every episode of Deep Space Nine was recently added to Netflix streaming (and Hulu+) - if you're into that sort of thing. Good timing if you (like me) are hoping to brush up on your Trek knowledge while following along with Larp Trek.
posted by koeselitz at 12:26 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


WTF did I just watch?!?

A classic.
posted by Mezentian at 1:22 AM on January 20, 2013


God, what a wonderfully cheesy film.

"We require four persons to control this craft"
"Why s there five of you?"
"We always carry a spare."

I don't thin you could get away with a film like this today. More's the pity.
posted by happyroach at 2:13 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


When it went to cable back in the early 80s, I remember this movie being touted on HBO as kind of big deal; it got a Friday and Saturday night primetime slot one weekend. All I remember:

- The front of the spaceship looks like a large boob.
- Richard Thomas, talking to some bad guy/alien, says the line "...let me rephrase that" and it was fucking hilarious to me at age ten. Don't remember the context of that conversation at all.

I'm intrigued now that I see John Sayles was a co-writer. Maybe worth another watch?
posted by zardoz at 2:26 AM on January 20, 2013


"You need to work on your personality." - Ultra Warrior ftw. This is such a bad bad film, one of those 80s mad-max alike things, but with a bizarre middle section containing clips from BBtS which has no relevance to the rest of the film. And so many other bits of footage (an eagle in clear blue sky) where which have been lifted from elsewhere.

There is a sex scene early in the film which is either stock/soft-porn footage or something, and you can clearly tell this is not the protagonist you saw enter the room with the woman he just met. You can even hear where they have looped the "oohh ahh yes baby" audio.

Also, at the beginning it is all about lack of resources, yet there are dance clubs open, with neon lights.

Overall, 10/10 as a bad movie. It has everything, God bless Corman..
posted by marienbad at 2:54 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the way the first spaceship you see on screen, a couple of minutes into Battle Beyond the Stars, looks exactly like it would if someone had bought model kits of the first two spaceships you see in Star Wars and stuck the front of one on the back of the other.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:08 AM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is not a good movie, but, when I am bedeviled by the nonsensical actions of the hidden cogs of beauracracy/administration, I still find myself crying out in anguish "Why can't my mutants be intelligent!?!"

So there is that.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:24 AM on January 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


...people involved with the film who went on to bigger & better things...

That's going to be the epitaph on Corman's gravestone. The list of big name Hollywood types who got their starts with Corman is long and amazing. (e.g. Ron Howard's directing career really started with Corman)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:04 AM on January 20, 2013


Yes, I referred to and what folks above correctly identified, Samurai 7. It's been a number of years since I watched (own it - but my anime collection is currently in storage), but it's definitely science fiction, if with a feudal twist (like Dune, for example). It's available now for streaming on Netflix for who who are interested.

None the less, this post is the second reference to Battle Beyond the Stars in a couple weeks. It seems like the universe is trying to tell me something.
posted by Atreides at 8:14 AM on January 20, 2013


I like the way the first spaceship you see on screen, a couple of minutes into Battle Beyond the Stars, looks exactly like it would if someone had bought model kits of the first two spaceships you see in Star Wars and stuck the front of one on the back of the other.

That is an awesome spaceship and don't you mock it! But yes, yes it does.
posted by Artw at 8:22 AM on January 20, 2013


I remember seeing BBTS in the theater when I was 12 and thinking "This is like The Magnificent Seven in space." and then I saw Robert Vaughn and thought "This is The Magnificent Seven in space!". I still have fond memories of this movie (especially Nestor).
posted by MikeMc at 9:35 AM on January 20, 2013


My little brother and I loved this movie. We were really disappointed you couldn't get a Nell spaceship to play with so we tried making our own.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:10 PM on January 20, 2013


Some of the dialogue is lifted directly from the subtitles of the original. IIRC, it's the scene in the original set in the mill where they are talking about pay.

See also The Savage Seven (the lesser known AIP/MS clones.)
posted by warbaby at 5:30 PM on January 20, 2013


/Wonders if anyone exclaimed "this is exactly the same as Battle Beyond the Stars" upon watching A Bugs Life.
posted by Artw at 6:06 PM on January 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ron Howard's directing career really started with Corman

Howard mentions this in his interview on The Actor's Studio, how Corman gave Howard the title, Howard came up with an outline in 24 hours, and in a month they were shooting Grand theft auto.

Howard had earlier starred in Corman's "Eat my dust!"

Here is that part of the interview, "please don't see it!"
posted by zippy at 11:02 PM on January 20, 2013


Trailer: "Ron Howard pops the clutch and tells the world to eat my dust!"
posted by zippy at 11:06 PM on January 20, 2013


The idea that there is a "Ron Howard Action Pack!" is.... wow. Unexpected.
posted by Mezentian at 2:09 AM on January 21, 2013


I saw this movie with friends on my 13th birthday. One of us had a pair of lobster-claw gloves, which we called "Nestor gloves" ever after.
posted by adamrice at 7:06 AM on January 21, 2013


But... this thread wants to live forever. This thread wants to live forever!
posted by JHarris at 10:41 PM on January 21, 2013


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