31 March 2010

Spacehunter: Adventures In the Forbidden Zone

United States - 1983
Director - Lamont Johnson
Columbia Pictures, 2001, DVD
Run Time - 1 hour, 30 minutes

Here's a little DVD interlude simply because I'm watching a fun and somewhat forgotten movie that I wanted to pass along. I'll drop a few posters to make it legit.

Spacehunter has the Buck-Rogers style epic serial story arc that was re-popularized by Spielberg and Lucas and ran rampant through the 80's. It most closely resembles a PG mutant offspring of Beyond Thunderdome and Aliens and even more "mature" fantasy titles like Gwendoline (released a year later.) Spacehunter manages despite a slightly derivative story to be an effective combination of space-adventure and post-apocalypse narratives that is quite entertaining.
Remarkably, what it lacks in plot originality and  "mature situations", is more than made up for by visuals, from set design to vehicle design to costumes which make Spacehunter an awesome and satisfying surprise. It's such a visually beautiful film that I originally thought it must be more modern, my first guess was early 90's, but it was made a decade earlier during my favorite period in American film. This is the first I had ever heard of it, probably because it was so similar to other contemporary films in narrative content that it was buried, and forgotten (at least by me) but it's much more entertaining than this would lead you to believe, in fact, it's fantastic.
I picked up a copy of Spacehunter: Adventures In the Forbidden Zone from Netflix, after which I immediately bought it, but you can also watch all of it on YouTube in multiple segments.

Poster at the top is from Moviegoods, this poster is from Wrong Side of the Art.


Starmummy said...

I bought a bootleg DVD of this in 3D but it looks like shit. I'd love to have been able to see it on the big screen in 3D. With the new 3D boom, I wish they would re-release all the 80s 3D films (Friday the 13th part 3, Jaws 3D, Amityville 3D, Metalstorm, Parasite).

Woody said...

It is indeed available 'unofficially' in 3D - in Red & Green Anaglyph and in Field Sequential modes, both on the same DVD. I have a copy myself.

Spacehunter was fairly unique in that having things jump off the screen at you was not the primary purpose of the 3D. Like this Dolby Surround Sound stuff, it was used as more of a background effect - Only now are things like Avatar starting to realise how 3D is supposed to be used. It is a supporting feature, not a gimmick or a defining aspect.

Spacehunter itself is pretty damn cool. There was a lot they tried to achieve, from undoing mistakes made by the first director to battling studio execs who thought axing character development scenes was a good idea...

Ultimately, outside influences wrecked the film, but there are still plenty of subtle clues as to how amazing the film could have been.

Definitely worth buying, at least the standard DVD.