Sunday, May 15, 2011

Canon MST3K Review: Space Mutiny

Here is a look at episode 820 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the infamous 1988 film Space Mutiny, or if you prefer, Mutiny in Space. This fine piece of South African cinema was directed by David Winters (who also directed Linda Lovelace for President) and stars a bunch of actors whom you've never heard of and quite honestly will not hear about any time in the near future. There are a lot of things that happen in Space Mutiny, but only a few make any sense whatsoever. I will say that there is a mutiny, in space, led by a Lt. Kalgan, who wants to get out of space and land the space craft the Southern Sun on another planet. The commander refuses to do so because of some decree 13 generations ago. Also, a pilot somehow appears on the ship after an explosion accidentally blows his craft up and kills his professor or something, and all of a sudden the pilot that has little stake in the whole Southern Sun project is fighting Kalgan for control. Also, there's an engineer with a cane that's involved somehow, and the commander's daughter falls for the pilot, so there's also that. A few notes about this episode:

- Honestly, with a movie like Space Mutiny, in which there are so many bad qualities about it, it's hard to pick out where to start. Let's just say that this movie is so bad that neither the director nor the co-director (Neal Sundstrom, who actually directed most of this film) wanted to be credited with the director title of this film. After seeing this, I can see why neither man wanted this mess laid at their feet. The best parts of the film were probably the scenes where they recycled old footage from Battlestar Galactica, and even then, the footage plays backwards. Everything else is either terrible or just strange.

- According to Space Mutiny, in the future, space ships will be equipped with a whole lot of Commodore 64s that run the day to day operations of the ship. Also, there will be keyboards mounted on the walls for whatever reason, and instead of video surveillance of enemy ships, we instead have to rely on a radar detection screen that looks a lot like the old game Asteroids. In other words, man is this film dated or what. Furthermore, the Southern Sun's 'Enforcers' are each given vehicles that look suspiciously like floor buffers and move about as fast as a Power Wheels car. A strange time, this future.

- The main star in this farce of a movie is a pilot named Dave Ryder, who soon after his arrival, becomes the key man in fighting off the mutiny. This in spite of the fact that he only came onto the ship because he crashed his spacecraft into the giant Southern Sun and had to phase himself onto the ship to avoid death, a fate that did befall his professor. Nevertheless, he soon takes over as pilot of the Southern Sun, I guess because the commander's the type of fellow that believes in second chances. Dave is played by Reb Brown, and if you want any idea of his acting style, think Dolph Lundgren without the charisma and add a girly scream. At least Reb looks the part of an action hero, as he looks like he lifts weights about 10 hours a day. This leads to the MST3K crew coming up with humourus 'manly' names throughout the movie like Punch Rockgroin, Slate Slabrock, Flint Ironstag, and my favorite, Big McLargehuge.

- Dave eventually falls for the commander's daughter Lea (Cisse Cameron), who looks more like the commander's younger sister than daughter. Even though Lea is supposed to be the young hottie in the film, she's actually in her late thirties and has a hairstyle that makes her look fifteen years older than that. Lea, like most women on this ship, is primarily adorned in a one piece leotard with silver fringes around the shoulder. I guess in the future, the men get to wear full body uniforms and the women, well, do not. Anyway, Lea seduces Big McLargehuge with a dance that involves a hula hoop and rhythm less dancing, which was supposed to be seductive but comes across as just plain weird. The two then begin a whirlwind romance in which they show very little chemistry. Interestingly enough, Brown and Cameron are married to each other in real life, which seems to prove the old adage that if an on-screen couple is incapable of showing romantic chemistry on-screen, then they must be involved off-screen. Lea must be a hard person to control, as the commander expresses that he wishes he could control Lea 'as well as I can control this ship'. He says this, by the way, during the middle of a MUTINY. Honestly, I can't believe this commander could have authority over a ham sandwich, much less an entire space ship.

- Of course, no summary of Space Mutiny could be complete without mentioning the leader of the Mutiny, Col. Elijah Kalgan. Played by John Phillip Law. Kalgan is the epitome of evil. After all, he uses an evil, manacial laugh at least 10 times during the film, so you know he must be bad. Kalgan also employs a stare in which it looks as if he's trying to force his skull out of his skin. He also seems to be a fan of torture, and is rarely seen without his personal bodyguard (who is a rather normal looking guy instead of a musclehead like our hero) around. One could argue that Law was overacting as Kalgan, but considering the lack of acting around him, it was at least refreshing to see someone try in this film.

- Man, this movie loved the use of railings. Since the majority of Space Mutiny seemed to be set in a water treatment plant, there were a lot of stair cases and catwalks to be used, and by God they used those to great effect. There were at least 15 people killed off in this movie that either flipped over a railing or were blown off a catwalk and landed on the ground. Heck, somebody even made a compilation video of all the 'railing' deaths in Space Mutiny:

Overall, this episode is one of those that stand out just because of how bad this film is. Any time a character is killed off in one scene and somehow shows up in the next scene, well, you know you've got an all-time bad movie on hand. The skits in this episode were average at best, but the riffing on the movie is hilarious. Overall, I'd give the movie an 0.56 out of 10, but the episode a 7.9 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this post, or ideas for future reviews, than share those thoughts and ideas either by leaving a comment on the blog or by sending me an e-mail at

1 comment:

  1. This is my second-favorite MyST3K episode (Cave Dwellers being #1). The movie is so very awful and the guys do a great job tearing it apart. I found it odd (and perhaps a tribute to how much other crap they had to make fun of) that they didn't mentioned once the fact that the good special effects were lifted from Battlestar Galactica.

    And yeah, "Big McLargeHuge" is my favorite name of his, too.