Marjoe Gortner and Caroline Munro look unspeakably silly pretending to be skilled or heroic in the shoddy new space potboiler called "Starcrash." The emergence of Robin Williams in the role of Mork may mean curtains for Gortner, who resembles nothing so much as Mork's feebleminded clone. Munro, a pneumatic starlet about a decade or so past her freshest overripe appearances, keeps abreast of her goofy co-star, especially when condemned to the villian's atom furnaces in a black leather bondage outift of strapped-together scanty-panties and abbreviated halter.
Gortner and Munro are supposed to be a crack navigator-pilot team named Acton and Stella Starr. Dressed in flight suit and flight tights evidently salvaged from the old Flash Gordon serials, they sit in ear-shaped chairs while steering through outer space and exchanging lines like "Look! A neutron star!" and "What in the universe was that ?"
Not since "The Bermuda Triangle" has the screen reeled to such an abundance of laughable line readings by actors staring out the windshields of imaginary cockpits. Gortner is entrusted with scores of these lookie-there gems of exposition and improves on them with his inimitably clownish delivery. He's like some gushy game show or kiddie show master of ceremonies from another planet - the Chuck Barris or Chuckles the Clown of Orc, as it were.
Acton is supposed to function as the Obi-wan Kenobi surrogate in this sorry imitation of "Star Wars." He has magic powers and can foretell the future, a gift that allows him to rebound from some pretty tight spots, including one where his skull appears to have been bashed in by Robert Tessier, a funny-colored hulk in the employ of the villain, Joe Spinell, a power-mad unsurper bent on overthrowing Christopher Plummer, a mild-mannered emperor.
Acton and Stella are hired to find the emperior's missing son, destined to pair off with the curvaceous fly-girl, and locate the villian's impregnable Deathstar substitute before it's too late. Given the resources available, it is always too late for "Starcrash" to be enjoyed as anything but a bumbling throwback to B-movie science-fiction.
Stella Starr's hooker wardrobe seems to reveal more about the longings of producer Nat Wachsberger than one cares to now., The revelations get even more stark when Stella is briefly imprisoned on a planet of Amazons. For a while the screen teems with the starlets striking threatening poses in flimsy costumes.
Glen A. Larson. the producer of "Battlestar Galactica" and "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," is the home-grown libidinous equal of Wachsberger, who operates in Europe. Indeed, "Buck Rogers" was almost a fashion show of tootsies, beginning with the credit sequence in which vinyl loreleis made agaonzing advances at the camera.
The ludicrous female space pilots impersonated by Erin Gray in "Buck Rogers" and Caroline Munro in "Star-crash" have now been definitively rebuked by the valiant warrant officer portrayed by Sigourney Weaver in "Alien." If the point needed any underlining, Weaver had demonstrated how inadequate these other heroines are, how completely they derive from the centerfold fantasies of incorrigibly callow producers.
Perhaps relishing one of his few chances to escape from proletarian roles and play a villain in cape and goatee, Joe Spinell overacts with sneering, chortling glee. If he ever bothers to see this film, Christopher Plummer will probably envy Spinell. It doesn't look like much fun playing the passive emperor, although one assumes it was at least a payday. Wachsberger and director Lewis Coates no doubt hired Plummer because they needed someone who could do justice to the pseudo-Shakespearean cadences and images of their closing speech:
"The stars are clear, the planets shine. Some dark force will show its face again. The wheel will turn again. But for now it's calm. For a little time we can rest." If they keep it up, Wachsberger and Coates could bring a whole new meaning to the term "blank verse."