BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS was Roger Corman’s typically low-budget attempt at ripping off a currently popular trend—in this case STAR WARS from three years earlier. The plot is yet another take on the venerable SEVEN SAMURAI/MAGNIFICENT SEVEN story in which a band of mercenaries are hired to protect a place from bad guys. Robert Vaughn, one of the original American Seven, was even brought in to cinch that connection for anyone who might have missed it.
It’s my recollection that this was a mildly enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon matinee at Cincinnati’s Skywalk Cinemas back in 1980. Beyond that basic feeling I have to admit that little else about this film was memorable to me. What makes it fascinating, though, is the interesting group of folks both in front of and behind the camera.
Richard Thomas from THE WALTONS, quite an underrated actor in my opinion, toplines with, besides Vaughn, A-TEAM’s George Peppard, ENTER THE DRAGON’s John Saxon, Amazonian Sybil Danning (known for lusting after a naked Linda Blair in CHAINED HEAT), an ancient Sam Jaffe (GUNGA DIN) and legendary acting teacher and blacklistee, Jeff Corey!
Producer Roger Corman, as has often been the case, surrounded himself with young talent and veterans. TITANIC’s James Cameron served as Art Director and general visual effects kibitzer. Composer James Horner, whose scores have been most recently heard in THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES and Mel Gibson’s APOCALYPTO, wrote the music. Director Jimmy Murakami was an animator who had worked on Marlo Thomas’s FREE TO BE…YOU AND ME and the classic WHEN THE WIND BLOWS. Finally, the whole thing was written by John Sayles, then on the brink of his breakout independent film, THE RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN.
This neat but kind of dull, full color, full page ad came from QUESTAR, a short-lived attempt by former fan publisher Bill Wilson (THE COLLECTOR) to do a high class STARLOG-style newsstand mag.
I wouldn’t mind seeing BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS again for a re-evaluation but I’m thinking it would still look like an impressive film school project which, if you think about it, turned out to be exactly what it was.