STARCRASH: Bad Film Podcast

UnForced Drama: Caroline Munro, Christopher Plummer and David Hasselhoff confront cheesy space adventure in STARCRASH.
UnForced Drama: Caroline Munro, Christopher Plummer and David Hasselhoff confront cheesy space adventure in STARCRASH.

Italy has brought us so many wonderful things: Fellini; lasagna; Silvio Berlusconi (that last is debatable). But among the many marvels borne of those shores, truly the most wondrous has to be the knock-off film, a genre that took groundbreaking, innovative American titles and replicated them with a low-budget zeal and enough questionable technical prowess to make them their own classics. Loved JAWS? Wait’ll you see TENTACLES, the Italian version that features a giant octopus (plus the all-star quadrifecta of John Huston, Henry Fonda, Shelley Winters, and Claude Akins!). Got nightmares from THE EXORCIST? You should check out THE RETURN OF THE EXORCIST, which, despite the title, has neither Jason Miller nor Max von Sydow in the lead, but does offer Richard Conte in his final performance.
And if you just couldn’t get enough of STAR WARS, then the ever-inventive Italian filmmakers were willing to feed your hunger with STARCRASH, a faithful replication of CHAPTER IV: A NEW HOPE — if by “faithful” one means cheesy special effects, hammy acting and a storyline so muddled that audiences couldn’t help but proclaim, “Y’know, THE PHANTOM MENACE wasn’t that bad.” Forsaking their Jedi code, Temple of Bad residents Andrea Lipinski, Kevin Lauderdale, and I allow ourselves a flirtation with the Dark Side, one that here also claimed the souls of Caroline Munro, Marjoe Gortner, Christopher Plummer and (swoon) David Hasselhoff. In this episode, we unburden ourselves of an experience so devastating that even Lord Darth Vader would have cried, “Padme! Noooooooo!!!” Oh, wait, he did. Never mind.
La Forza può salvarti da film scadente!


THEME SONG: I Wonder If God was Sleeping by scottaltham
Song covered under Creative Commons

Cave Women: A Gallery of Prehistoric Pulchritude

Dinosaur Island (1994)It is no secret that the much of the appeal of prehistoric movies lies in pulchritude. No one really cares what real life was like back in the days before civilization, and only little boys and a few paleontologists care about dinosaurs. No, the reason that (predominantly male) audiences watch these films is for the opportunity to see beautiful women clad in minimal clothing, usually fashioned from furs and/or clam shells. It’s a bit of a joke to characterize all men as primitive cro-magnons who would be happy tossing bones onto the cave floor after dinner; perhaps prehistoric movies tap into this atavistic part of the male soul, suggesting that you can be an uncouth, inarticulate, hairy brute – and still cavort with Raquel Welch. In-depth insight or pop culture psycho-babble? We leave you to ponder that question while perusing the following gallery of pre-history’s sexiest women.

European beauty Senta Berger plays a cave woman who teaches an ignorant cave man about the joys of sex, in the Italian comedy WHEN WOMEN HAD TAILS (1971).


Martine Beswicke in PREHISTORIC WOMEN

After battling Raquel Welch in ONE MILLION YEARS B.C., Martine Beswicke graduated to playing the Queen of a a lost tribe of Amazonian warriors in PREHISTORIC WOMEN (a.k.a. “Slave Girls,” 1967). Of all prehistoric leading ladies, along with glamour and beauty, she captures something a bit more primitive and thrilling, elevating this campy film into something worth seeing.


Julie Ege in Creatures the World Forgot (1971)

Julie Ege took spear in hand for CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT, the third of three prehistoric-themed movies produced by England’s Hammer films. Unlike its predecessors, CREATURES featured no dinosaurs, only a snake. Still, Ms. Ege makes it worth a look.



In THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT, Dana Gillespie is, technically, not a prehistoric woman, since the film is set in the 20th century. Rather, like Beswicke in PREHISTORIC WOMEN, she is playing a primitive character who lives in a lost world that has survived unchanged into modern times. Whatever – she certainly fits the bill when it comes to filling out her fetching cave girl outfit.


Carol Landis and Lon Chaney, Jr. in ONE MILLION B.C.

One of the earliest big-screen cave girls was Carol Landis in ONE MILLION B.C. (seen above with Lon Chaney, Jr.). Ms. Landis bared considerably less skin than her successors; nevertheless, she made a fetching example of prehistoric pulchritude.


Caroline Munro in AT THE EARTH'S CORE

Caroline Munro plays the princess of Pelucidar, the lost world in AT THE EARTH’S CORE (1977). Technically, she is not “prehistoric” in that the story takes place during the Victoria Era, but she comes from a prehistoric-type world, complete with revealing clothing that will make any man sigh in gratitude.



Edina Ronay plays the good, blonde cave girl in PREHISTORIC WOMEN, the polar opposite of the Evil Queen played by Martine Beswicke. Of course, the “Good Girls” are usually less interesting than their seductive rivals, but Ms. Ronay overcomes the handicap thanks to the way she fills out a fur bikini.


Raquel Welch in a posed publicity shot from ONE MILLION YEARS, B.C.

The Queen of all Prehistoric Women has to be Raquel Welch, seen her in the role that made her famous, Loana in ONE MILLION YEARS, B.C., the 1966 remake of the film starring Carol Landis. Ms. Welch’s impossibly perfect figure turned her into a sex goddess, serving as a fantasy figure for an entire generation of young boys who went to the film only to see its dinosaurs and came away with the first inkling that there was something far more fascinating that prehistoric reptiles.



When Hammer Films wanted a follow-up to ONE MILLION YEARS, B.C., they titled it WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (1970) and cast Playboy Playmate of the Year Victoria Vetri in the lead. Although she did not go on to international stardom on par with Raquel Welch, she cut almost as striking a figure in her primitive garb.

RELATED ARTICLE: The History of Prehistoric Movies