If you would like to know about how I came to own today’s movie, there is a simple explanation for that. My friends are enablers, plain and simple. See, a few months ago I was at a friends house and happened to be checking on the status of a delivery from Amazon when I noticed some of the recommended titles that they had listed. I saw this title as something soon to be released and mentioned it to them and they said that it was a movie that should definitely be in my collection. So, knowing how easily influenced I am on such matters, I went ahead and pre-ordered it. Now let’s see if this impulse buy was worth it as I watch today’s movie, Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone.
The plot: Out in space, a cruise liner is passing through a nebula cloud when it is struck by a bolt of lightning. damaging the ship and causing it to be destroyed. Everyone is killed except for three women (Meagan, Nova, and Reena), who manage to make it to an escape pod and head for the nearest habitable world, Terra XI. When the land, they are attacked by the scavenging natives before a group of people called Scavs drive them off and the women are taken on board a train, powered by giant sails. Elsewhere, a salvage pilot named Wolff hears part of a mayday and has his engineer Chalmers fix the communicator so they can listen to the whole thing, where they learn about the missing women and the 3000 mega-credits reward. Wolff recalls hearing about Terra XI and how a colony was attempted but there was a plague and that one of the survivors had initiated some sort of martial law on the planet. Wolff and Chalmers land on the planet and head out in the Scrambler, a 4-wheel drive vehicle, and set off for the shuttle’s coordinates. When Chalmers notices that the shuttle is moving, they see the train and watch as it comes under attack by another group of people, called Zoners. Wolff has Chalmers stay with the Scrambler while he boards the trains and tries to rescue the women but he is too late as the women are captured by the Zoners and taken away via hang gliders. As he heads back to the Scrambler, the leader of the Scavs accuses Wolff of causing this but one of his people tells him he is mistaken, then speaks to Wolff for a bit but refuses to help him. Wolff returns to the Scrambler to find Chalmers, who was actually an android, has been killed so he initiates her self destruct, which begins melting her skin and circuitry, then drives off. Wolff comes to an old settlement and heads inside to find it abandoned, with nothing but the skeletons of people who died in the plague, when he suddenly hears someone trying to steal the Scrambler. He manages to stop the thief, a Scav girl named Niki, and he kicks her out of the Scrambler but she convinces him that she can help him find the gliders and he allows her to get back him and lead him towards the Zone. Meanwhile, the gliders land in the Zone and the three women are taken to see the Chemist, who uses drugs to pacify them and make them want to serve Overdog. Back in the canyons, Wolff and Niki make camp for the night but when Wolf discovers her in his sleeping bag in the morning, he grabs her and carries her to a nearby pond and forces her to get cleaned up. Suddenly, another vehicle with a large plow on the front shows up and when it tries to run over Wolff, he causes it to wreck and confronts the driver. The driver turns out to be Washington, a former soldier turned sector chief and an old associate of Wolff’s who says he is there for the same reason Wolff is but he crashed his ship. Washington asks about teaming up with Wolff but Niki says he already has a partner and Wolff tosses Washington’s gun into the pond and leaves him there. Wolff and Niki continue travelling and eventually reach the outskirts of the Zone, where they take shelter in an abandoned building but as they go to get some sleep, they find themselves attacked by some large, pig-like humans and are forced to get back in the Scrambler and leave. Meanwhile, the three women are taken to see Overdog, who has become a cyborg, and he demands the Chemist leave them so they can fill his basic needs. Wolff and Niki are traveling through a swamp, with Niki walking ahead to guide the Scrambler through the shallow areas, when Niki is grabbed by a member of an Amazon tribe. Wolff jumps into the water to save her and ends up captured as well but the Amazons run when a strange dragon-like eel appears out of the water. Wolff manages to kill it and free himself and Niki but when the Amazons start to head towards them again, they are forced to abandon the Scrambler and climb out of there. Making their way through the desert, they are about to die of dehydration when Washington appears, having followed their tracks and towed the Scrambler out of the swamp. Washington strikes a bargain with Wolff, giving him and Niki some water and they work together to rescue the women, then Wolff flies them out of there, with them splitting the reward money. When Wolff and Washington start discussing what they might do with their portion of the reward, Niki realizes they aren’t planning on giving her any of it and gets upset with Wolff, who says there was never an agreement that she would be leaving with them after they rescued the women. Washington tries to explain to Niki that Wolff is too much of a loner and offers to be her partner but she brushes him off, and is still angry when Wolff offers to take her to another planet if they succeed in their mission. Two Scavs from the train show up at their camp, intending to head too the Graveyard to kill Overdog when they come under attack by some children who have been mutated by the Chemist. They manage to escape but Washington’s vehicle is damaged and the two Scavs go on ahead to complete their mission. After repairing Washington’s vehicle, they head to the Graveyard and sneak inside to find that Overdog is entertaining his subject by forcing his prisoners to make their way through a deadly maze. They find one of the Scavs being chased by guards and learn that he and his brother had attempted to free the prisoners and use the distraction to kill Overdog but his brother was captured. Seeing the women in a cage behind Overdog, Wolff and Washington decide to use the Scav’s plan and Washington goes with the Scav to free the prisoners while Wolff waits so he can rescue the women. Wolff tells Niki to wait in the Scrambler but she gets bored and sneaks back inside only to be captured by Overdog’s soldiers. Washington frees the prisoners and blows up the slave pens while Wolff manages to rescue the women but Niki is sent into the maze. Wolff sees Niki trapped in the maze and despite Washington’s telling him to just leave her, Wolff tells him he is going down to save her. Wolff manages to help Niki make it through the maze but Overdog grabs her and has the Chemist prepare to transfer her life force into him. Wolff kills the Chemist and makes it inside the chamber, where he fights with Overdog and manages to kill him by electrocuting him with a fallen cable, causing explosions to occur throughout the Graveyard. Washington rescues them and they head back to Wolff’s ship, where they bandage up the two Scavs and the women thank them for their part in rescuing them. Niki gets upset and starts to leave, yelling at Wolff that he didn’t ask if she wanted to go with him and Wolff tells her that he does want her to come with him and the two hug and then leave with Washington and the women.
Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone met with mostly negative results from the critics, holding an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, many felt that it could have been a better movie if it was more original. The movie was deliberately released a week before Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi, in order to cash in on everyone’s anticipation for that movie. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite work as the movie only mad $16.5 million off of a $14.4 million budget.
There were so many similarities to Star Wars in this, it’s hard to believe that this wasn’t some sort of early Asylum mockbuster. That being said, this wasn’t a terrible movie to watch. The acting was ok, with Peter Strauss (Wolff) and Ernie Hudson (Washington) doing a good job in their roles. I was a little surprised with Molly Ringwald’s playing of Niki but this was before she became John Hughes’ go to girl for his movies and she was just getting started in Hollywood. The story was pretty unoriginal and like I said, had a lot, and I mean A LOT, of similarities to Star Wars in this movie. In fact, Ernie Hudson was cast due to them wanting a resemblance to Lando Calrissian. The special effects were pretty weak looking, while Michael Ironside just looked weird as the cyborg Overdog. Good for a few laughs, but there are better sci-fi movies out there.
Rating: 2 out of 5