B Movie Challenge: Space Mutiny

10 U.S. Code § 894 – Art. 94. Mutiny or sedition:

Any person subject to this chapter who—

1: with intent to usurp or override lawful military authority, refuses, in concert with any other person, to obey orders or otherwise do his duty or creates any violence or disturbance is guilty of mutiny.
2: Any moron who watches Space Mutiny and refuses to smile the entire time shall walk the plank!

Throughout my years of telescoping the stratosphere of lower deck movies (the dark places where aliens hang upside down in wet chains), sometimes I’ve stumbled upon a VHS that is purely a gift from out of this world. In 1988, around the time the ‘Star Wars’ satellite was protecting us from cold war villains (“Tear down this wall!”), the team at Action International Pictures (not making that name up) released this space opera epic, and like our hero Reb Brown’s scream, it was loud, proud, and just plain… mind-boggling. 

As a scavenger of cinematic space junk, I can forgive a lot (and have). Some continuity errors of laser guns switching hands back and forth? I let it pass. Continuous use of the same special effects shot over and over again bought from the Battlestar Galactica stock footage (frak on you, Universal Studios)? Put it aside for now. Yet one thing I cannot get past is killing a character in the previous scene and letting them sit at their computer blatantly alive in what was an editor throwing in the proverbial galactic towel of “I give up!’ on this film (can you blame him on a certain level though?)! Legendary for its mistakes, Space Mutiny gained infamy on being roasted by the gang of MST3K for its outrageously brave attempt to create a Jedi-level adventure on the budget of a meatball sandwich from WAWA. Yet, I will argue the saving grace of the entire movie is… the entire movie! The cast, lead by Brown and Bondian villain wannabee John Phillip Law, will rock you to the center core of bad acting and the occasional (all the time) odd line reading, and who could forget the legendary western star Cameron Mitchell in the worst Oscar-worthy fake beard in filmdom history. The interior ship sets might be in an abandoned warehouse in South Africa, but the cast and crew do their best, plus who can hate a movie where a Stevie Nick look-a-like witch dances around plasma globe lamps from Spencer’s Gifts?

The plot is heavier than most movies in the Milky Way. Law takes the law into his own Vader-gloved hands and tries to spring a mutiny aboard the spaceship Southern Sun (or a Cylon ship from the classic 70s show). He would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for those darns kids (in their early 50s) Brown and his off-screen wife Cisee Cameron.

A little outer space wizardry, a nice cluster of explosions (because why not blast the hull with laser holes in zero gravity), and some awkward space lovin’ make for a rockin’ fun time. If you pop in the laserdisc on your Pioneer CLD-M301 LD Laser Disc and analyze the correct velocity of how the ship warps, then this is the wrong movie for you. If, however, you’re eating some sloppy, buttery popcorn (wiping the excess on your couch cushion) and wish Brown would crash through your wall yelling like a green alien banshee, then buckle into your mini-cart transporter for some level seven g-force action!

Floating in a mere 93 minutes, this little interstellar was directed by David Winters (who directed classics like The Last Horror Film and Raw Justice) and was one of the Jets from the 1961 Academy Award-winning West Side Story. Due to its cult following and copyright issues, you can find this movie on most streaming services and bargain bin DVD collections, but I highly recommend the MS3TK episode if you have never had the pleasure (Chuck Rippedshirt). So do a couple of squat thrusts in your magnetic moon boots, pour yourself some badger milk-infused Tang, and start a real mutiny during your friend’s Merchant-Ivory viewing with this galactic equinox of celluloid delight!

About Ian Klink

As a filmmaker, writer, and artist, Ian Klink’s work includes the feature film Anybody’s Blues, his thesis film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands, the novel Lucky for Newfangle Press, and he has written short stories for Weren't Another Way to Be: Outlaw Fiction Inspired by Waylon Jennings, The Creeps, Vampiress Carmilla, The Siren’s Call, and Chilling Tales For Dark Nights audio cast. Klink shares his talents as a teacher of multimedia studies in Pennsylvania.

View all posts by Ian Klink

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