Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Starcrash Blu Ray and Curved Space book out

Today is the official release day for the Starcrash Blu-Ray disc. Parallel to this we will also see the publication of Curved Space – The Adventures of Stella Star, a collection of short stories featuring the further adventures of the movie's scandily clad space heroine as well as forewords by both Luigi Cozzi and Caroline Munro.

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about this announcement... even though I don't even own a Blu Ray player yet (and certainly no region free one as this is a Region 1 release). Starcrash has always been one of my absolute favourite films of all time. And I am not ashamed to admit that this is meant in a totally irony free way. This is one of the movies that have accompanied me throughout my entire life and that regularly gets rewatched. It would probably be also fair to say that watching it as a kid in the cinema all those years ago has probably been one of those life changing moments for me.

I am not going to bore you to tears with why this film is the bee's knees. There are tons of reviews out there about this by people who either love it or hate it so no need to go into any of it again. Suffice it to say, though, that this was the first film I ever saw with the lovely Ms Munro. Well, either that or At the Earth's Core. I can never quite tell but I vividly remember seeing both of them a very short time apart at a relatively tender and impressionable age in the cinema.

At that time I already was a bona fide and probably rather precocious under-age film buff who had started to take note not just of the movie stars but also of the directors behind the movies. It must have been around that time that I had also just started my Hammer love affair though by and large it was then still the usual classics that I was fascinated with: actors such as Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne as well as folks like Jean-Paul Belmondo or Alain Delon who were huge on the Continent at the time.

Starcrash changed all that.

These days it is difficult to fathom but when the film was shown in the cinemas at the time the effects did actually look very convincing and exciting to the impressionable 11 year old that I was. More importantly, however, I quickly learnt that laser swords and space battles seriously improve when performed by a fit looking Amazon scantily clad in fetishistic costume. This is something that the original Star Wars was seriously lacking. Ìn all fairness: Anyone who prefers Leia Organa over Stella Star (Love the name alone!) needs to get their head examined.

Needless to say I told all of my friends about it, most of which didn't have a clue what I was on about. I quickly discovered that once you venture through the gates of B-Moviedom, you are bound to be confronted with the uncomprehending looks in the eyes of normal folks who can barely appreciate a general film obsession, let alone one that leads up some barely trodden movie paths. Pre-Internet - what am I saying? Pre-DVD or even pre-VHS! - this could be a very lonely experience. How easy would it have been to just let things go and focus on the more easily obtainable film goodies. But, no, I soon learnt to appreciate and even love that feeling of smugness that all of us B-Movie Fans feel coming over us when we know we've discovered a gem that few others are aware of.

So as annoying as it initially was when people tried to correct me when I raved on about Caroline Munro (“Of course, you mean Marilyn Monroe, don't you?”), I soon learnt to answer this with my own branded look of smug arrogance when I subsequently corrected those folks in turn.

Learning more about Caroline Munro became my first cinematic mission. Over the following years I managed to see most of her 1970s output in the cinema. (At the time those films were still shown on the big screen years later in Sunday kiddies matinees or during special summer events.) Maybe more importantly, however, I also started getting involved collecting film memorabilia outside of the translated Citadel film books that had made up most of my collection at the time. I discovered that there were a number of English language magazines out there that often had articles about her and quickly needed to learn how to score them and – of course – how to read those buggers given that English was a language I had only just started learning at school. Though always easier to master than the French language mags I also occasionally sourced.

When over the years I got in touch with other Hammer Fans in Germany (got giddy with excitement when I learnt that there were indeed others like me) I also started learning about promo pics and lobby cards and guess whose were my first buys? I also started my small autograph collection by writing letters to my favourite stars: Cushing, Lee, Price, Jacqueline Bisset and Caroline Munro. And was pleasantly surprised when every single one of them actually responded back. Then waited feverishly for the next time a Film Collector's Fair was staged near my area.

When I finally learnt how to access the Internet John Scoleri's old website dedicated to Caroline Munro was one of the first I ever visited. I also started my own CM discussion group all those years ago and set up my very first website dedicated to Hammer Glamour in the days of dial up. (It subsequently was taken down without explanation.)

Other stuff I eventually did thanks to Starcrash included a stay in the Hotel Cala di Volpe in the Costa Smeralda where Munro's scenes for The Spy Who Loved Me were filmed, a little pilgrimage to Luigi Cozzi's Profondo Rosso Shop in Rome (co-owned with Dario Argento) and having lunch with Caroline herself.

I am not usually the type to endlessly upgrade my movies but Starcrash is one I have watched in just about any popular medium at the time: watched it in the cinema, then taped it off TV before purchasing the regular VHS tape and sourcing a French DVD that was the closest to a proper DVD release we so far had of this production (yet still only featured a VHS style presentation albeit with some grainy extras that also included old interviews with Cozzi & Co as well as the completely unofficial nudey rip off Starcrash 2/Escape from Galaxy 3). I even seem to recall watching some Super 8 reels at a friend's house. So now hearing that this is available on Blu-Ray at last has me jumping up and down with joy.... in a very distinguished way, of course. This is now likely going to be the release that will eventually push me over and make me search out the deals for region free Blu-Ray players.

I also always thought that the character of Stella Star was one that was just crying out to be serialised in any kind of form: movies, books, comics, audio books, you name it. Hearing that we will finally have more of her adventures to look forward to makes Curved Space also an essential purchase for me. It's just a pity that the Making Of book that was announced a couple of years ago has hit troubled waters and will not be released anytime soon.

To celebrate the release of the Blu-Ray/Book combo I will also publish a couple of my lobby cards in a separate post. Some of those were previously available on my old Hammer Glamour site but I have also added new ones and re-scanned the old ones.


John Scoleri said...

While my first exposure to Caroline was in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, my story is not that different from yours. I sought out every article, reference and photo I could find of this mysterious lovely lady.

A few years ago, I even added a 16mm print of Starcrash to my collection...

I too am looking forward to upgrading to the Blu Ray (and not just to get a better look at the strings on the spaceship models), and Curved Space looks like a lot of fun - worth a purchase for artist (and huge Munro fan) Robin Evans beautiful cover alone.

Holger Haase said...

16mm?!? Damn... you got one more medium down for Starcrash than I did. LOL

Snipes said...

I got this yesterday (the Blu-ray copy of the film) Starcrash is by far my favorite B-Movie, it's just a hilariously bad film. The video quality is top notch compared to the other releases of this film, although I found the dialogue to be a little drowned out by the music and background sounds, but it think that's the way the film has always been.

Important to note this is the US cut, a few people have been griping about that, but since this is the Corman Classic collections and other than cutting about 5 minutes out for it's release in the US Corman didn't really have anything to do with this film. Personally from what little I have watched so far the film moves a little faster with the edits, so I actually think it's a positive. Nothing worse than a slow moving B-Movie and I thought the French release drags a bit in the beginning. All the cut material is shown in the deleted scenes section.

Other than watching the first 15 minutes or so I really haven't delved much into the discs. I watched a little of the interview with Caroline but found it a little boring, basically they just sit a camera in front of her and she talks for an hour, no real organization to it, and no photos or video clips which would have made it a little more interesting. Still for the video upgrade alone on the film it's worth a buy.