Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Star Slammer (1987)

Directed by Fred Olen Ray
Starring Sandy Brooke, Dawn Wildsmith, Bobbie Bressee, Aldo Ray
Rated R


"My name's Taura, and you can all kiss my ass."

You've got admire a film so willing to hedge its bets that it's got three titles, one plastered on top of the other, in the opening credits. Depending on who you're selling it to, you can safely refer to this one as Prison Ship, Star Slammer, or Adventures of Taura. All three are equally accurate, which is to say that they represent some aspect of the film. But following that logic, you could also call it Space Wedgie or Cardboard War Tank. The release date is pretty slippery, as well. The offiicial release date is '87, but it didn't hit video rental shelves until 1988, and it was reportedly shot in 1984. It was definitely somewhere in the 80's, that's for sure. An early effort from the man who would soon grace the world with Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Evil Toons and Bikini Drive In, this was clearly Fred Olen Ray's homage to the crusty old serials of the 40's and the 50's. Of course, it's all filtered through Ray's cheese-chomping, dayglow 80's trashfiend aesthetic, but there's a little King of the Rocket Men in there somewhere.

Taura (Sandy Brooke, Nightmare Sisters) is just your average post-apocalyptic amazon warrior, a bleach-blonde cavegirl with a lion-skin thong who hangs out in a desolate dustbowl on some far-out, low-rent planet with a bunch of midgets wrapped in garbage bags.

One day a creaky old space wizard named Zaal shows up (Sleazemania curator Johnny Legend) to eat dog food with his bony fingers and to complain about Space Tax.

Just then Bantor the Space Tax man (60's biker flick vet Ross Hagen) arrives - with a pink zoot-suited Dukey Flyswatter in tow - to steal the midgets' precious Space Crystals. When Zaal gives them some guff, they use their laser guns to blow him into space dust. And then they do the same thing to the midgets. Taura uses her plastic axe to fight 'em off pretty good - she even mmages to cop off Bator's hand - but they eventually overpower her.

And then John Carradine shows up via videotape to tell Taura she's been sentenced to seven years on the Prison Ship. Or the Star Slammer. Whichever works better for you.

Long-gone scream queen Marya Gant (Cannibal Hookers) is the leather-bound warden, who warns Taura that escape attempts usually end up in a horrible death. And then she meets her jail-mates. They punch her and slap her around a little. That's how you say Hello in the Star Slammer, baby!

And then Muffin (Dawn Wildsmith) saunters in. She's the She Boss of the prisoners. Muffin tosses a couple rags at Taura and tells her to get into her new prison threads. This affords us a decent peek at Taura's swollen rack. Thanks, Muffin!

By the way, whatever happened to Dawn Wildsmith? She acted almost exclusively for Fred Olen Ray, and appeared in nearly two dozen of his films between 1985 and 1995. And then she vanished. Wildsmith was one of the most memorable B-queens of the era, largely because she could chew scenery like nobody's business. It did not matter how small Wildsmith's role in any given film was; if she was in the scene, it was her movie. She pretty much just always acted like she wanted to eat your face. Dawn Wildsmith was a bad-ass.

Dear Miss Wildsmith, please come back and eat our faces again. We miss you.

Anyway, then everyone has lunch. It ends in a food fight. This is followed by some S&M tinged spanking. Then the prisoners have to fight the monster from The Deadly Spawn while Muffin and the Warden watch. And then Taura gets attacked by Muppety rats in her cell. And ten they all get drunk on booze made of engine coolant. Space antics!

Bantor - now sporting a robot hand, since Taura hacked his off - shows up on the ship with his gang. Everyone proceeds to fuck, get whipped/maced/spanked, experiment with strange new drugs and bio-weapons, and hallucinate.

Also, there's a transmission from the Queen of Outer Space (Bobbie Bressee, Evil Spawn), but I'm pretty sure that was just to pad the time. There's also a cameo from 50's sci-fi champ Aldo Ray that amounts to little more than a still photo and a couple mumbled lines. Eh, it's a living.
So anyway. Mike (Susan Stokely, Phantom Empire) squares off with Muffin, and ends up chopping her hand off and stabbing her to death. With the wicked witch dead, the girls mutiny and bond together to try and escape the wretched Prison Ship.

Along the way, Sandy Brooke changes her shirt again. Most gratuitous wardrobe change ever!

There's also a hot Asian chick wearing half a leotard. She doesn't last long, though.

So, how does it all end? Pretty much exactly like Star Wars. Only with more cleavage.

There's also the threat of a sequel, Chain Gang Planet. Sadly, it has yet to surface.

Although it sorely lacks the wall to wall nudity of latter-day Fred Olen Ray movies, Star Slammer gets by on pure gusto. There is something ridiculous happening in nearly every frame of this film, and just when you think you've reached the sub-cellar of absurdity, a trap door opens and something even more ludicrous occurs. The continuity errors are headache-making - the interior of the ship is never the same twice, Sandy Brooke's haircut changes radically from one scene to the next, and characters undergo dramatic personality changes from one line to the next - but it's not like a linear plot or a coherent presentation was ever a top priority anyway. No, this is pure 80's junkfilm, a fizzy, sugar-sweetened, VHS valentine to space operas, women in prison flicks, and teenage losers with nothing better to do than wade through 90 minutes of muck for two brief titty-flashes.

Mandatory viewing, in other words.

- Ken McIntyre


  1. Wildsmith was married to Fred Olen Ray back then, but they have since divorced.

  2. There's a very imaginatively done rack scene in this movie ... there's a metal rack that's pretty much a wall that leaves the poor prisoner's heads and hands sticking out, but other than that, the wall hides all of them. Very imposing. I compare it unfavorably to a rack scene in the hentai "Cool Devices," the "Slave Warrior Maya" episode. Here's the URL. The initial image is safe for work, but scroll downward and you'll be NSFW territory.


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