Space Mutiny (1988)

Space Mutiny

Directed by David Winters

Written by Maria Dante

Tagline: “There is nowhere to hide from the enemy within!”

Run Time: 93 min

Space Mutiny is a film so completely and absolutely awful that it leaves one breathless. Almost every type of error that can be made while producing a movie can be found in this film. It is an astoundingly sloppy production full of jaw-dropping continuity errors, cheap special effects, and a story that is ludicrous to the extreme.

Regarding the special effects, all space footage in this film is stock footage from none other than old Battlestar Galactica episodes! Since this series was so popular during its time, and the model ships so distinctive, I can only assume that the makers of "Space Mutiny" really didn’t give a damn if people knew the source of the scenes. This atmosphere of disregard for the viewer is probably best represented by the opening scene of the movie: Stock footage of the Battlestar Galactica flying through space, yet they mistakenly play the footage backwards! Incredible! Another example of laziness is a scene in the film where 2 space-pirate ships are blown up: The second exploded ship is merely the same footage of the first exploding ship but they have just flipped the film so that the ship appears on the other side of the screen.

Interior shots of the space ship are filmed in some sort of factory, so it makes it hard to imagine actually being on a space ship when you can easily see that the walls are made of brick! (Not to mention sunlight streaming through the windows!)

Well, before I get even more wound up, let’s just get on with the review, shall we?

The screen is graced with the opening credits which look like they were produced on a Comadore 64. (Please, this is not a jab at Comadore!) As the credits end, we see the opening shot of Battlestar Galactica, oops, I mean the Southern Sun as it flies backwards (!!!) across the screen. As luck would have it, a narrator fills us in on the back story:

"Thirteen generations ago, our overpopulated world built ‘The Southern Sun’. A self-sufficient space ship that would be home to thousands of migrants for the ten light-year journey to a new and uncolonized world. The current descendants have come to accept the Southern Sun as their home and work for a better future for their children. While most of the inhabitants of this generation are content, there are some who have grown restless and impatient."

So let’s see. The world is so overpopulated that they build a gigantic "generation" ship that will take thousands of people to a new world. Would a reduction of thousands of people really make a dent in the overpopulation of a world with billions of inhabitants? It would be like trying to reduce the world’s population by sending off the student body of a local community college.

Space MutinyDuring this narration we see a shot of the bridge, staffed by an awesome crew of about 5 people tapping away at old IBM keyboards. For some strange reason all female crew members wear high-cut blue leotards. Well, it is the future so who knows what could happen.

OK, fine. The ship and its, *ahem*, thousands of inhabitants are flying through space. (But they might want to stop flying backwards if they ever want to reach their destination.) As the narration ends, we see the leader of the "restless and impatient" rebels. (Impatient for what? To reach their destination planet? What the hell can anybody do about that? Drive faster? Stupid movie.) The leader of the rebels and head of security, Elijah Kalgan, (pronounced as ‘calgon’…yes…just like the old ‘Calgon…take me away!’ commercials…) and his bodyguard, a blonde pseudo-buff dude who wears red body armor and not much else, are stomping around in the bowels of the water treatment plant. Ooops. I mean walking around the ship. ‘Tense’ music clues the viewer that these two are Up To No Good. Oh yes, I see now. Kalgan is placing a bomb onto a big something or other, which I can only assume is Something Important. (It looks like an industrial clothes dryer.)

Back on the bridge, the communications officer, Lt. Lemont, receives a call that a damaged ship is being escorted into the Southern Sun’s landing bay. As the pilot of the rescue ship radios in, the crew of the rescues ship are "Balarians" (No, not Bulgarians…). As we find out later in the film, the Balarians are a race of women gifted with telepathic powers and the ability to drive men wild with desire. Or something.

Just a minute. What are the odds of stumbling across a tiny shuttle in the vast expanses of interstellar space? Whatever. I guess the Balarians are important to the story because they do provide a lot of dance scenes (not to mention that they are all pretty hot looking too).

Space MutinyCut to more Battlestar Galactica footage which is suppose to represent a squadron of "Stingray Fighters". (Of course the fighters make roaring jet noises despite the fact that they are in outer space.) Inside the Southern Sun, the Commander’s daughter, Lea, stops by the bridge on her way down to the docking bay to meet one of her friends, Professor Spooner,who has just arrived from God knows where. (Once again, arrived from where? This ship is on an interstellar journey, i.e., between stars. Just where are these people arriving from?)

I must point out that the actress who plays Lea, Cisse Cameron, is obviously in her 40’s. In Space Mutiny she is supposed to be a young hotty…a gambit which falls flat on its face. Cisse is in fact the real life wife of Reb Brown, the actor who plays the the film’s hero. I digress.

As the fighters are making their approach, out of nowhere appears a group of pirates (!). These pirate ships are of course simply stock footage shots of the Cylon ships from Battlestar Galactica. While we’re nit picking here…pirates?! What the hell are pirates doing in interstellar space? Just who do they pirate? It’s not like this is a shipping lane rich with merchant space ships…

I hate this movie.

Well, since the producers of this film had some extra Battlestar Galactica footage laying about, we are treated to shots of space battles that really have no relevance to the story at all. The number of "pirate" ships varies from shot to shot, as does the number of Stingray Fighters. For some reason, the pirates attack the Southern Sun itself and are quickly destroyed.

Meanwhile, in what seems to be a different film altogether, Kalgan and his bodyguard are still Up To No Good. Wandering around in some sort of factory that is supposed to be the Southern Sun, there is apparently no sign of any kind that the ship is under a massive pirate attack. (Previous scenes showed the ship in flames in several places, yet we see Kalgan casually walking through the ship as if nothing is happening.)

Space Mutiny

Kalgan and American Gladiator reject. (Note sun coming in through window in the upper left…this is suppose to be a space ship…)

Being a bad guy, Kalgan detonates the bombs he had previously placed around the ship. The point of this sabotage escapes me, to be honest. What I mean is that he too is on this ship, so what does he accomplish by damaging it? Is he trying to bring about political change? Is he trying to destroy the ship? What the hell is going on here?

Space MutinyBack on one of the Stingray fighters, our hero, Dave Ryder, is having trouble controlling his ship. "I’ve lost power!", he screams from his fully operational cockpit, which tends to contradict his assertion of power loss. We then notice that Dave has activated the "Pilot Ejection System". As others have noted before, the usefulness of a pilot ejection system in outer space seems dubious at best.

The computer display informs the viewer that "Collision Unavoidable" and that the "Automatic Beam-Off" (?) is beginning. As you might have guessed, Dave manages to, er, "beam off" his crippled fighter and reappears on board the Southern Star dressed in his silver body suit and motorcycle helmet. Sorry, I meant pilot’s suit.

The stricken ship crashes into the landing bay, or maybe not, but it does crash into the ship. Lea runs towards the wreckage screaming out for Professor Spooner but is carried off kicking and screaming by Dave who warns her that the fighter is "gonna blow!" (As Dave runs away with Lea slung over his back, we see the crashed fighter in the background which is oddly smaller than Dave. Man, that must have been a tight fit. Not to mention that he was also carrying Professor Spooner as a passenger.)

As fire rages in the landing bay, Kalgan cackles like a 1950’s mad scientist. I’m not too sure how the bombs he planted had anything to do with the crashing of an incoming space fighter, but there you go. Nothing really makes any sense in this horrid movie, so you just get used to stuff like that. OK, yes, back on the bridge the Commander blames the crash on a sudden loss of power, which I suppose we are to understand was a result of Kalgan’s bombs. Yet, wasn’t it the battle with the pirate ships that damaged Dave’s ship? Furthermore, it was Dave who complained about losing power in his ship, not the Southern Sun…stupid movie.

After things calm down a bit, one of the ship’s officers, Blake, reports to Kalgan that a group of "strange women" were aboard the shuttle. (‘What shuttle?’, you may well ask. Good question.) Anyway, Blake apologizes that his report is so "scanty" (?) and returns to his post. The "strange women", previously identified as Balarians, are shown to their room, which is simply an empty room. Talk about hospitality. The Balarian leader telepathically commands the men to leave the room. (You can tell she’s the leader because she’s the hottest one of the group.)

Space MutinyBack down in the basement, or whatever the hell this big pipe-filled room is supposed to be, Kalgan drives up in one of his security vehicles with the name of the vehicle stenciled on the side: "Enforcer 1". To show what a tough guy Kalgan is, there’s even a rifle strapped to the side. (Strapped to the outside and in an awkward position no less, but still, he’s a BAD GUY.) This aura of authority is compromised by the fact that the "Enforcer 1" is actually one of those drivable floor buffing machines (!). You know the kind…those that 80-year old janitors drive around at about 1 mile-per-hour.

Kalgan pulls up to his Partner In Evil (still waiting for a name…PIE for now) and says, "Perfect timing…two birds with one stone." (Cackle-cackle).

"Who would have thought one ship could cause so much damage!" PIE replies. Since there are about 5 guys in white suits sweeping up the floor, I fail to see what massive damage PIE is referring to. Maybe it’s off camera or in a different movie.

Kalgan smirks and exposits, "That Viper’s missile pods took out the entire winching system for the docking bay doors!" OK, yes. I guess they will never be able to repair that. I just want to note that the actor playing Kalgan really, really chews the scenery whenever he gets the chance. I’m pretty sure his script was annotated with "ACT EVIL!" before all of his lines.

PIE notes that the damage will take 2 weeks to repair, thus rendering the Southern Sun completed isolated. Boy, I hate to beat a dead horse but, how much more isolated could they be than they already are? They are on a multi-generational 10 light year journey, for cripes sake! Oh yeah, gee, it’s going to take 2 whole weeks to repair…what, they’ve already been in space for 13 generations! It’s not like they’ll be landing any time soon.

OK, now we get to the meat of the plot here. Kalgan is determined to force the crew of the ship to land at "Corona Borealis" instead of their original destination. On this planet, Kalgan intends to "accumulate wealth and power" beyond his wildest dreams. (Can a person "accumulate" power? How does that work?) Anyway, so I have to wonder again…if "Corona Borealis" is an inhabitable planet, why the hell don’t they just land there anyway? Why bother continuing through space for countless more generations when an inhabitable planet is right there!? Man, my head hurts.

Cut to a meeting room where PIE and his Evil Henchman are discussing practical details concerning the take over of the Southern Sun. With cheers of "We can do this!" and "Yeah!" from his partners, PIE lays out his plan. "It’s true! We have the power to do this!", shouts PIE, "But this would directly oppose the law of the universe! [??]" Umm kay. One of the engineers refuses to go along with the treachery and is promptly stabbed to death.

Back on the bridge, our hero, Dave Ryder, meets the Commander and his XO, Captain Scott. Before they can get started with the briefing, the Commander asks for Dave’s "space status card" (huh?), which Dave immediately withdraws from his belt. A swipe of the card in a computer reveals that Dave Ryder is in fact, Dave Ryder. (If you look closely at the screen you can see his occupation is listed as "Flight Master" (!)) Anyway, Dave requests to see a video of the his crash into the docking bay. Oh great. It’s one of the incredibly advanced computers that has a voice synthesizer which "says" everything that appears on the screen. I guess this is to ensure that even those bridge crew members that can’t read will still be able to understand what is happening in the ship.

Space MutinyWell, enough of that I guess. Cut to the Balarian chamber where they are dancing around a bunch of those ‘plasma’ balls, you know those ones that you can buy in novelty shops which shoots out those glowing plasma trails when you put your hand on it? Yup. They are dancing around those. You have to hand it to the makers of this film…they sure cut every corner when making Space Mutiny.

The Balarians are sending a telepathic message to a couple of male crew members who begin dreaming about having sex with the Balarian witches. Well, one of the crew members wakes up and tries to gain entry into the chamber but is quickly reprimanded by the guard on duty outside the door. Hmmm…Great scene. That was really exciting.

Back to the bridge. Dave explains that the Viper’s "new high-density atomizer escape system" was only "hooked up" to the pilot, thus he was able to escape the crash but Professor Spooner had no chance to escape. (If you wondering who Professor Spooner is then join the club. Actually, he’s just a plot device feebly employed to generate ‘friction’ between our two leads, Dave and Lea.)

At that moment Lea enters the bridge and is promptly scolded for trying to run into the flames and rescue Spooner. "The pilot chickened-out!", she shouts, oblivious to the fact that Dave, sitting just beside her, was in fact the pilot. (And just how did he "chicken out"? His ship had no power!)

Well Dave has had enough of her accusations. "Listen, lady!", he shouts. "Doctor!", hisses Lea in reply. (Lea’s a doctor…uh-huh…) "There wasn’t enough time to switch to the auxiliary backup system!", continues Dave in a rather redundant description of the system. This truly, truly wooden performance continues for awhile before Dave stalks off to "file his report."

Now that tension has been created between the 2 leads, just imagine how much more sweeter it will be when they finally fall in love. Ooops!

Meanwhile, back at security head quarters, Kalgan has intercepted a crew member making a report to the bridge. It appears that somebody has been stealing explosives. In fact, "We’re definitely short on conventional ballistic explosive." (Conventional what?!) Soon To Be Dead Crew member continues, "Somebody with direct on-line access to Central has been transferring large amounts of explosives and then simply covering the requisition." (Ohhh…that old trick!)

Well, gee. Kalgan sends some guards to deal with the leak. Soon To Be Dead Crew Member runs through the water treatment plant, damn, sorry, I mean ship, and is soon cornered, where else, on a catwalk high above the concrete floor below. With a dubbed cackle (You can see that his mouth is closed!) Kalgan steps out from the shadows to confront the would be do-gooder. "You have two choices", Kalgan informs the crew member, "Join me or the Deep-Freeze." Engineer Cadell (gee thanks for telling me his name 5 seconds before he dies) chooses instead to jump off the catwalk to his death. (!)

Dave, in the meantime, is trying to mend fences with Lea. He finds her in the greenhouse where she’s watering big orange plants. (Hey, it’s the Future!) Dave continues to defend his decision for a bit longer and then Lea obviously blows her lines when Dave looks at her in complete silence for a second or two then curiously shouts, "Hey! I don’t need this!" even though Lea didn’t say anything.

OK. They have to fall in love at some point before the end of the film, so it might as well be now. For no apparent reason, besides the fact that the script mandates so, Lea suddenly wants to be friends. Dave isn’t ready to bury the hatchet and storms off again. (Ahhh…the tension is killing me! When will they fall in love?)

Now comes one of the most horrible scenes I have ever laid eyes on. Yes. The dance scene in the ship’s lounge.

Bad 80’s music.

Garish multi-colored clothes.

White people dancing like white 80’s people.

White people dancing like white 80’s people with hula-hoops. (!!!)

(By the way, is this were the "thousands of migrants" come to relax? It would probably get a little crowded in there. It looks like there’s maybe room for 50 people, tops.)

Space MutinyAnyway, as Dave is leaning against the bar checking out the dancing, in comes Lea in her blue and silver space suit. She shuffles across the floor and does some really, really, bad dancing before catching Dave’s eye.

Space MutinyTo ensure her catch, Lea even begins to twirl a hula-hoop around on her waist, oblivious to any sort of "beat" or "rhythm" in the music. So yes, Lea is standing in the middle of the dance floor spinning a hula-hoop. (The Future!)

Folks, this is a really bad film here.

Oh by the way, not to ruin the magic of the moment, but if you look carefully you’ll see that this "club" is actually filmed in the same "basement" as the "docking bay." They simply added some lights, a dance floor, and a "bar", viola!

To spare you some excruciating dialog, Lea and Dave decide to "start over" and try and to be friends. As pleasantries are exchanged, Lea notices that Lt. Lemont (the communications officer, you remember that, don’t you?) is being led away by 2 security officers. (Do you really think you would notice something like this from across a room full of people while trying to pick somebody up at a bar?)

By the way, all security officers wear black ski masks and plastic wood-working goggles. (Sinister!)

"Let’s go check it out", suggests Dave in yet another entirely unbelievable line. (Nothing like shoe-horning a plot along, eh?)

As expected, Lt. Lemont is escorted to Kalgan who is seated in another of those floor-buffer-thingees. This particular floor-buffer is chauffeured by his American Gladiator Wannabe body guard (man, I wish they could give me a couple names here…), allowing Kalgan the opportunity to blast Lt. Lemont with his laser gun and "race" off in their Enforcer car.. (Why? Because she received the report concerning the missing explosives. Wake up! C’mon! Almost halfway through this movie! Don’t wimp out on me now!)

When Dave and Lea discover Lemont’s body on the floor, Dave magically has a huge laser pistol in his hand. (Seeing that he has no pockets in his pants, I really don’t want to think about where he might have been keeping the gun while sitting at the bar.) "There they go!", mumbled Dave with about as much conviction as an actor can muster while watching his career go down the toilet. Lea and Dave hop into a second, incredibly convenient, Enforcer floor-buffer car, and race off in hot pursuit.

How to describe the chase scene…hmmm… Imagine two floor-buffers "racing" around a water-treatment plant with cartoon "laser gun bullets" being fired between the cars. (The film is occasionally sped up in a vain effort to hide the fact that these cars have a top speed of one mile-per-hour.) The laser-beams seem to hit everything but the Enforcer vehicles. In fact, some of the beams enter the frame from areas nowhere near either of the cars. Go figure.

Just as things get too exciting, we cut to the bridge. Captain Scott enters the bridge. In a jaw-dropping continuity error, Scott walks past Lt. Lemont, busily working at her computer. Hmmm…wasn’t she killed in the previous scene!!!???

Space Mutiny Space Mutiny

The Amazing Resurrected Lt. Lemont

My lord! How lazy can a movie get?

Scott and the Commander try to discover who’s behind all the sabotage. After a few seconds talking, they come to the conclusion that whoever is responsible may be trying to divert the ship into the Corona Borealis constellation. "That’s pirate territory", remarks Scott. (Ohhh! Scary!)

"It’s always very dangerous to speculate," says the Commander, "though it would have to be somebody on this ship." (No shi* Sherlock! Gee, ya think so?) Captain Scott mulls this over a bit and suggests that it may be the Enforcers (no not the cars. I guess the security forces themselves are called "Enforcers". Wow. Cool.) Not wanted to tip their hand to the mutineers, the Commander orders Captain Scott to keep this information "Top classified secret."

Space MutinyOK, back to the chase scene. Since the movie makers could never come up with a way to have the car chase end and the pursuit continue on foot, they simply cut to Dave and Lea running through the ship looking for Kalgan and his Body Guard. They wind up in some sort of cryogenics lab where a crusty old caretaker keeps bodies ‘on the ice’ so to speak. It’s actually a sort of storage area for anybody that the Enforcers consider a threat…they just send them down to "Deep Freeze" and freeze them. (But only if they’re "redeemable". Non-redeemable crew members are shot into space. I’m not sure when a body is considered redeemable, indeed, nor do I have any idea how I would ever redeem one.) As Lea and Dave make their way past a row of frozen bodies, the viewer can’t help but notice that they are in fact a bunch of guys wearing silver underwear and wrapped in plastic wrap (!).

The caretaker takes his leave of our heroes, giving them the chance to mull over their plans. Lea wants to attack the mutineers who number around only 150, so in all honesty, Lea’s plan does make sense. Dave poo-poos the plan by saying, "It would be a blood-bath." Whatever. Noting that the mutineers have "broken inter-galactic law [!]", Lea repeats that something must be done. (Wow. You think so? Can we…umm…get on with this?!)

Space MutinyAlas, before anything can be decided, Kalgan and his men discover Dave and Lea in the deep-freeze room and another exciting (not) laser-gun battle ensues. The Enforcers chase Lea and Dave through the pipe-and-girder filled ship, firing madly and missing by tens of feet on every shot. I mean, really. How the hell can you aim at somebody 20 feet away and hit the ceiling?! It’s absurd! Dave of course hits everybody with one shot. Well, what do you know, Dave spots a collection of red tanks marked with a sign "Methane Gas…Danger!". (A closer look will reveal these methane tanks to be fire extinguishers covered with red spray paint…sheesh! What a film…)

Give yourself two points if you guessed that Dave shoots the cans and they blow up real good. The resulting fire is enough to cover Dave and Lea’s escape. Oh joy.

Back on the bridge, the Commander is searching through the computer files regarding the Balarians. As the computer says everything that’s on the screen (I really, really hate that in the movies), we see the Balarians performing another of their odd plasma-ball ballets. After a bit of gyrating, we realize that the Balarians are sending a telepathic message to the Commander. The Balarian leader magically appears in the Commander’s chambers and says, "Commander…it is now time for us to talk."

Space MutinyThe Balarian Leader, Genera, tells the Captain that the people of the Southern Sun are falling prey to the powers of Darkness. (I don’t know, they’re pretty crappy dancers, but the majority of them seemed alright…) Genera walks across the room, crouches beside the Commander and places her red, glowing hands on his chest. What this cartoon red light is suppose to signify is beyond me. I don’t the writers were completely sure either.

OK, yes, now I see. Genera tells the Commander that she has just "shared the way to the truth" via the whole red-glowing-hand thingee she just did. "Face Kalgan and his evil!", Genera commands the Commander.

Later, or the next day, or sometime, who knows, the Commander is holding a meeting with Dave, Lea, and some other crew members (Dave is dressed in a white muscle shirt, which seems a tad informal when being addressed by the Commander of a star ship.) The point of the meeting is to offer Dave the position of "Flight Commander". I’m not sure if that’s the Commander’s job or what. It’s never clear, and in hindsight now that I’ve seen this movie 5 times, it really doesn’t matter.

A celebration then takes place in the officers lounge to celebrate Dave’s promotion. There’s about 15 people present, and sadly, the same music is playing in this scene as there was in the horrifying ‘hula-hoop-dancing’ scene from before. (Why do all the women officers wear workout leotards? Not that I’m complaining…) Dave notices that Lea is absent from the festivities, takes his leave of the Commander and Captain Scott, and hurries down to the green house to find her.

Now we see the second most horrifying scene in the film: Dave and Lea writhing and grinding on each other under a sheet. (Please notice that the "grass" in the "greenhouse" has wrinkles in it…gee…that wouldn’t be astroturf, now would it?)

Meanwhile, the Balarians are still dancing and manage to lure a couple Enforcer dudes down into their room. The two men are later found sprawled senseless on the floor. The wayward Enforcers are taken down to Deep Freeze where Kalgan is awaiting them along with his Body Guard. The Body Guard beats one of the guys for a bit then they are led away to be frozen. Once again I have to ask…what exactly was I suppose to get out of that scene? That Kalgan is Evil?

Well, that scene over, we are treated to another pointless scene showing 2 Enforcer officers going for the Exposition of the Year Award. We find out that Kalgan has made a deal with some Pirates to help them get off the ship. (What? I thought they were trying to divert the ship itself? What the hell?)

At that moment comes a message over the radio from the Alseka Pirate Fleet. "You have entered the Alpha-Delta Restricted Zone," the pirates inform the crew of the Southern Star, "…surrender immediately or be blown into astro dust!" (Wow! Astro dust! That’s gotta hurt.)

A gigantic space battle ensues, realized by gigantic amounts of Battlestar Galactica stock footage. (Not to mention a smattering of "explosion" shots from early scenes of the movie. Try not to notice that.) The Commander fires 2 missiles, each hit their designated targets and the pirates are destroyed. Huh. That was exciting.

Space MutinyThe crew heads down to the lounge in order to celebrate their victory over the pirates. Try not to notice that it’s the exact same "party" scene shown previously during Dave’s promotion party. In order to convey the sense of relief felt by the thousands of crew members, a group of 11 men are shown pumping their arms in the air while shouting "yea!". (Boy, you know, it’s really hard to imagine that this movie is taking place on a "ship of thousands". Actually, it’s hard to imagine that this movie is taking place on any kind of ship at all.)

As the "celebration" continues, a voice comes over the loudspeaker and says, "To all on board: Congratulations! We have successfully defended the Southern Sun against the latest pirate attack. We must now focus on internal problems. [!?]"

Dave appears from atop a catwalk and addresses the jubilant crowd below: "Will the officers of the watch please form three groups…The first group is going to be responsible for making weapons (??), the second group is going to act as soldiers [??], the third group is responsible for getting food and supplies."

OK, so we will have 4 guys making weapons (What the…?), 4 guys "acting as soldiers", and the rest gathering food? What the hell is Dave talking about?

Ah, yes, I’m so blind. Dave and the gang are going to barricade themselves in the engine room in order to prevent the Enforcers from taking over the ship. (I would have thought the bridge would have been a more strategic place to control, but oh well.) Dave concludes his speech by shouting "Now let’s get out there and kick some ass!" (I’m not sure how much "ass kicking" they can do while barricaded in the engine room, but let’s just go with the flow.)

While all this…stuff…is happening, Kalgan kidnaps Lea and has her taken…cue evil music…to his headquarters. Up on the bridge, the Commander receives the news of his daughter’s capture from Kalgan himself. The evil Enforcer leader gives the Commander just 12 hours to turn over the ship to the Enforcers or else Lea will be "ejected into space." A brief discussion with Captain Scott convinces the Commander to stand up and fight against the Enforcers. (Really! There’s 150 Enforcers and several thousand ‘good guys’…kick the bastards into space already!)

Meanwhile, Kalgan is preparing to torture Lea a bit with a laser dental drill ala ‘The Marathon Man’. I don’t really see why he wants to torture her since she has no information to give him (from what I can tell so far she’s some sort of botanist). Oh well, I guess he’s just EVIL

Ooops. I spoke too soon. He’s trying to get Lea to tell him about the Commander’s "contingency plans". Umm, would she know of these plans? And contingency plans for exactly what type of situation? "A Group of Buffer-Car Driving Silver-Suited Wackos Trying to Take Over the Ship" situation?

Space MutinyDave, having learned of Lea’s peril, sprints off to rescue her. He overcomes a couple of idiot guards and steals a uniform from one of them. (A uniform which in no way could have possibly fitted him. Oh yeah, and what good is the uniform if you don’t have a mask to hide your face. Moron.)

Space MutinyFed up with Lea’s refusal to divulge the plans, Kalgan begins drilling into Lea’s front tooth. (The laser drill consists of goofy cartoon "light" with the sound of a dentists drill foleyed onto the soundtrack. Why a laser would make the same sound as a dentist’s drill is not clear.)

Just as things are starting to get uncomfortable for Lea, in walks Kalgan’s Evil Partner. "I see you’ve got the girl", he says after seeing that they’ve gotten the girl. Kalgan turns off the laser and offers to escort Evil Partner back to the engine room. Did this make any sense to you? No? Good. This is some really clever script writing. Now Lea is alone with Bonehead Bad Guy (BBG) who is supposed to guard her until Kalgan comes back. (Once again, the point of this previous scene was…?)

Oh no. Lea is seducing BBG. In fact she’s talked him into removing his uniform. Man, talk about a contrived pile of crap. I’m sorry. I’m only human…and a human can only take so much Space Mutiny. Blah blah blah. Lea kicks BBG to the floor when Dave arrives Just At That Moment. Lea steals the uniform from BBG then she and Dave run from the room. BBG is tied to a bank of computer monitors. Just so you know.

Dave and Lea make their way through More Gigantic Rooms Filled With Pipes, and eventually overcome a pair of guards sitting at a computer. (The brief melee included Lea kicking one of the guards in the groin. What is so irresistible about it that filmmakers have to include at least one groin-kick/punch in every film?)

Meanwhile Kalgan is on a rampage back at his headquarters after learning of Lea’s escape. "You let that space-bitch escape!", he growls at his cowering underlings. (Umm…"Space bitch"? Oh, brother!) Kalgan orders that their "plans" now be put on "red alert!" (I didn’t know you could put plans on alert, but what do I know?)

Dave eventually delivers Lea to her anxious father on the bridge. Here they all learn that the Chief Engineer, MacPhearson, is a traitor. "This is serious", says Captain Scott, "He knows all of our codes!" Dave agrees and decides to go deal with him…alone.

Some more confusing "battle" scenes ensue. Back in the Gigantic Room Filled With Pipes (the same room that has served as docking bay, disco, engine room,…) the Enforcers are a attacking the good crew members of the Southern Sun. Kalgan opens fire on Dave but, of course, misses wildly. (Dave usually hits with one shot, typically resulting in the stricken Enforcer tossing himself over a railing so we can watch a slow motion "ayieeeeeeeee" falling scene.)

I just want to interrupt this review and say that this is one of the most half-hearted, uninspired, lame "laser battle" scenes I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch. I know return you to you Space Mutiny.

Space MutinyAh yes. Good. Now my life is complete. An explosion resulting in not one, but two, crew members flipping through the air as a result.

MacPhearson, the treacherous weasel that he is, nonchalantly makes his way out of the fray and to another Gigantic Room Filled With Pipes And One Computer Bank. MacPhearson quickly dispatches the 8 or so people working at the computers and then proceeds

Space MutinyHey wait! Two more guys flipping through the air! Not only that! They are flipping through the air over a railing! Yes!

Did the film makers really think that this kind of crap is exciting?

Two more are shot and flip over a railing. Well, to be fair, it was the same two from before, the shot was just filmed from a different angle.

Another guy flips over a railing! Incredible! And another! I’m not making this up! It’s unbelievable! Another!

Dave and the others are finally overwhelmed and forced to retreat into the engine room. (Umm, wasn’t that where they just were?) Anyway, an Enforcer with a mohawk (!) calls off the other Enforcers because he assumes that Dave and the Good Guys are all dead. (I think. There’s really no point in trying to guess the motivations a character’s actions in this film.)

MacPhearson is now trapped in the room where he dusted the 8 other guys. (Don’t ask.) Three more guards approach him and he shoots two of them, and yes, both of them topple over the railing!

Space MutinyBut wait, here comes Dave. Not only that, Lea is hanging from a rope (!!) with one arm. (Where the hell did she come from? What the…?) Anyway, for no other reason than The Script Says So, MacPhearson leaves his fairly easily defended location and clambers down into the "gas expulsion sump" instead.

MacPhearson tries to weasel himself out of his predicament as Dave opens a valve connected to a bank of tanks filled with, yes, methane gas. "What’s that smell? What are you doing?", asks Lea as she watches Dave open a valve connected to a bank of tanks filled with methane gas.

Dave ignites the gas with a blast from his laser and watches as the flames consume the wounded MacPhearson. How nice. (By the way, the flames slowly make their way across the floor to where MacPhearson is sitting just like a trail of gasoline would do. Methane gas would have exploded. Not to be overly picky, but this movie deserves it!)

"Now it is time for Kalgan", whisper the Balarians as they dance around their plasma balls.

I think the end of this movie is in sight.

Kalgan gets into his buffer-car, straps on his silver motorcycle helmet, and begins driving around for some reason. Dave and Lea, also for some unexplained reason, are driving around in a buffer-car as well. Kalgan comes out of nowhere and rams Dave, knocking Lea to the floor. (In a truly ridiculous shot, there is a close-up of Kalgan while he’s "driving". You can plainly see that the background is not moving even though he’s supposed to be zooming around. I guess it was too expensive to actually mount a camera to one of the cars for the shot. To be fair, there is also a close up shot of Dave where the background isn’t moving either. Double-suck!)

Another buffer-car chase ensues. With the ridiculous close ups where they are obviously sitting still, the cartoon "sparks" when the cars ram each other, and the "sped up" footage so the cars look like they’re going faster than 1 mile-per-hour, well, you’re really in for a treat if you ever dare to watch this movie.

Wow. Lea, on foot, opens fire with her laser pistol. She accidentally hits Dave’s buffer-car and puts him out of the chase. (!) Kalgan takes advantage of the situation and floors it…aiming to run down Lea who obligingly stands still in the middle of the hallway. ("Take this, you space bitch!", Kalgan shouts.) Lea dives out of the way at the last second, or maybe she was hit, it’s hard to tell.

Suddenly, Dave’s buffer-car has magically fixed itself and he aims it directly at the oncoming Kalgan. At the last moment, Dave jumps from the buffer-car as the two vehicles collide head on resulting in a gigantic explosion. Bye Bye Kalgan.

By the way, Lea’s OK and she and Dave get married.

Oh. One more "by the way". Kalgan’s not really dead. The last scene shows a scorched Kalgan leaning against a pipe in a Dark Gigantic Room Filled With Pipes…eyes are closed…camera zooms in…eyes open…Kalgan glares at camera.

The End.

Hey, Space Mutiny…bite me!

Dennis Grisbeck (August 2005)

after they were killed. On and on.

If you want to see this movie, then you’re on your own. In a sick way, it’s somehow fascinating to see this movie and all of its problems. Kind of like staring at a train crash. You just can’t believe it’s really happening right in front of your eyes.”);


20 comments to Space Mutiny (1988)

  • monoceros4

    Who wins the smug-off between the three cackling villains, the Phantom of Krankor from Prince of Space, Terl from Battlefield Earth, or Elijah Kalgan from Space Mutiny? They’re all stupid and they all laugh a lot but Kalgan goes further than the other two. Krankor and Terl use the villain’s laugh in the standard way. They say something that they imagine to be clever or cutting or menacing, then add a laugh like punctuation. Kalgan, though, doesn’t limit himself to the standard way. He laughs before he does something villainous. He laughs during it. And he laughs afterward, loud and long. No doubt Kalgan laughs when he brushes his teeth, laughs when he launders his band uniform, and laughs when he flushes the toilet (especially then.)

    Also he is semi-competent compared to the other two. Krankor never did figure out that his weapons were useless however many times he yelled, “FIRE!! FIRE!!” Terl doesn’t get one thing right the whole movie (but he never does give up trying, bless him, even in a cage.) Kalgan, though, does accomplish a couple things. He knows about ancient dentistry. He actually succeeds in killing a couple people. And he survives the worst golf cart accident since 1974.

  • Golf cart? Don’t you mean floor buffers? 🙂

  • Spencer

    This movie took a serious ribbing from MST3K, one of my favorite episodes. They recently re-released it on DVD and apparently they were proud of the disaster this movie actually turned out to be and displayed “Worst Sci-Fi movie ever” on the DVD’s cover.

  • I think that “worst” sci-fi movie ever made is pushing it, but I understand them trying to use an attention-grabbing title in order to draw attention to an otherwise forgettable piece of crap.

  • Sean

    A late addition here – but that’s a nicely subtle critique of some of the “best and brightest” from the Deviled Ham School of Villainy. Congrats to the man with the cat. (And a Siamese too!) Maybe I shouldn’t admit to this, but I too take note when any of these guys actually get something right. Somehow it seems important.

  • monoceros4

    Sure. Didn’t you wish, just a little, that Kalgan would succeed in breaking Lea Janssen? Or that he’d actually manage to hurt the “space bitch” at the end when running her over with his floor-waxer? By the way, why didn’t she hug the wall instead of standing square in the middle of the corridor and grinning like an idiot?

  • “…By the way, why didn’t she hug the wall instead of standing square in the middle of the corridor and grinning like an idiot?…”

    The same reason that when people run away from cars that are trying to run them over, they run down the middle of the road. And, yes, it’s too bad Lea didn’t crack under the space-tooth-drill, or whatever the hell it was.

  • guts3d

    I imagine Reb Brown and Cisse Cameron sitting on rocking chairs at the old folks home with fond memories of this stinker, and bragging about it to the other oldies.

  • guts3d

    Back on the bridge, the Commander is searching through the computer files regarding the Balarians. As the computer says everything that’s on the screen (I really, really hate that in the movies)

    Galaxy Quest had this exact bit with Sigourney Weaver, and the crew even commented on it!

  • I also hate computers that have a “clicking” sound for every freakin’ letter that is written to the screen

  • Trunk Slamchest

    I notice that I’m not the first to bring up that this… was riffed by the trio at MST. It makes it awesome, or at least watchable. I’d buy it on DVD but I know I’d just riff over it……Stump Beefnom……Gristle McThornbody…..Smash Lampjaw…..Bob Johnson, oh wait. 🙂

  • Sean

    Like a comet orbiting a black hole, I have once again come into contact with “Space Mutiny,” – the MST3K version, of course. It now occurs to me that perhaps the bizarre, eye-watering stupidity of the script comes about because they just recycled an old sword & sandal story? Kalgon is the evil wizard who dares defy the “law of the universe” and seeks to overthrow Good King Sighs Alot, AKA Commander Jansen.

  • Man, I love this movie…I especially enjoyed the intense floor-buffer chase at the end 🙂

  • Sean

    It really is a perfect storm of cheesy awfulness. The cherry, on top of the icing, on top of the cake, has to be all the bad 80’s hair on display! Whereas the floor-buffer “highlights” are the candy covered nuts in the cake itself.

  • Guts3d

    I have to work the day after Thanksgiving, so I will be taking this stinkburger and “Pumaman” ( the MST3K versions, natch ) to work to “sample” while I diligently keep my nose to the proverbial grindstone. Biff Slabchest! Gristle McThornbody! Thick McRunfast! Bob Johnson!.. No, wait…

  • Sean

    Ah, Pumaman. Starman had a sedate dignity compared to him. And that theme music!

  • Guts3d

    True… Starman might have had theme music while he flew in space, but in space, no one can hear you beg for mercy from the soundtrack.

  • […] “In a sick way, it’s somehow fascinating to see this movie and all of its problems. Kind of like staring at a train crash. You just can’t believe it’s really happening right in front of your eyes.” […]

  • Your review made me laugh almost as mych as the movie!

  • guts3d

    I just re-watched this stinkburger (MST3K version, natch!) and I just had to re-read this review and laugh! Classic!

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