Sometimes you just want to be on another planet, having adventures and looking at shit you never saw before. Well, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone enables you exactly that. This is a sturdy and well-crafted early eighties science fiction movie. It features great stunts, a decent story, and great pacing. Just think of it as Indiana Jones in space. Although our hero looks more like Jorah Mormont from Game of Thrones. I’m just a sucker for these science fiction movies focused on the unlikely heroes. Movies where the destiny of the galaxy isn’t going to be decided whether they succeed or not. And here we have such a man in Wolff, a space garbageman. Oh, pardon me, salvage operation specialist, to be more precise.
Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone is for all intents and purposes a post-apocalyptic movie. It’s a cheeky and charming B science fiction gem that will be refreshing to all fans of the genre. The story is eerily similar to Escape from New York, what with the girl missing in a dangerous area populated by all kinds of scum. And when I say all kinds, I really mean it. Mostly because we will run into many strange creatures on our adventure to the infamous forbidden zone. This is a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously with one purpose and that’s to entertain you. After all, the producer is none other than Ivan Reitman who made such movies as Ghostbusters and Evolution.
It is the year of our lord Satan 2136 and humanity has spread to almost every corner of the galaxy. Space tourists are venturing far away to see stellar phenomena, enjoying the new age of space travel. However, after an engine failure, three very important tourists barely escape the giant spaceship in escape pods. They land on a strange planet populated by hostile natives. Soon, the news of their troubles reaches Wolff, a lonely salvage operator, and adventurer. For 3000 megacredits, he’s willing to rescue them from this wretched place and sets course for their location.
One of the constant sources of amazement, at least for me, was the myriad of creative vehicles and strange contraptions that made an appearance here. And just when you thought that you’ve seen it all, the next scene offers even zanier and somehow still believable machinery. The locations we will visit play a huge part in the story and they were just mind-blowing. Sure, we had a couple of filters on, but still, they looked otherworldly and surreal. I wouldn’t call Spacehunter a movie so bad that it’s good or anything like that. I know it’s cheesy and a clear rip-off of Star Wars and Mad Max, but it’s awfully charming. It has these little details that make it worth watching. Like the fact that Niki is speaking this “crooked English” because she lived all her life on this planet cut off from the rest of the civilization.
Moreover, the dialogue is smart and snappy. When you add to this vibrant atmosphere and concise storytelling, you get a perfect dose of eighties science fiction escapism. Finally, if you’re looking for similar movies check out: Cherry 2000, Mindwarp, Neon City and Hell Comes to Frogtown.
Director: Lamont Johnson
Writer: Stewart Harding, Jean LaFleur, David Preston, Edith Rey, Daniel Goldberg, Len Blum
Cast: Peter Strauss, Molly Ringwald, Ernie Hudson, Andrea Marcovicci, Michael Ironside, Beeson Carroll, Hrant Alianak
Fun Facts: One of the main reasons for casting of the Ernie Hudson as Washington was his resemblance to Lando Calrissian. Carefully timed release of Spacehunter was just three days before the worldwide premiere of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.