“Star Wars” was and is a profoundly influential film that has changed the course of cinema history, both for good and for ill, in the case of the prequels mostly ill. But one thing it’s undeniably done is make money by the bucket, and where there’s money, there’s people desperate to cash in. Here are the five greatest Star Wars ripoffs we could find.
5) Starcrash (Italian Star Wars)
In the ’70s, Italian cinema was pretty much turning out crap by the reel, and nowhere was this more true than if you were within fifty feet of Luigi Cozzi, Italy’s insane film ripoff machine. Cozzi, an accomplished hack, made Italian versions of everything. He made the Italian version of Aliens, which wasn’t set in space. He recut the original Godzilla into a posterized incoherent Communist rant. And, of course, he cranked out “Starcrash”.
“Starcrash” has a special place in our collective heart because it’s a mashup of just about everything that made the late ’70s to early ’80s the cheesiest years in human history. This movie stars the infamous Marjoe Gortner, former child preacher turned exploitation movie star, and in a supporting role: David Freakin’ Hasslehoff.
Here’s the proof, try not to die of lactose overdose.
4) The Tramps In the Planet War (Brazilian Star Wars)
To be fair to the ridiculously cheap movie we’re about to criticize, also called “Planet Wars”, it’s not a straight-up rip-off of “Star Wars”; it’s intended to be a parody of it, starring an allegedly loveable “comedy” team. On the other hand, either Brazilians find different things much funnier than we do, or this movie was made by monkeys and clowns, and we’ve got to go with Occam’s Razor. Monkeys it is!
There isn’t a lot of video of this thing on the Internet, mostly because any computer with video uploaded of this film dies soon after from shame. But, its suckage is legendary. Having suffered through this movie, the term “anti-cinema” doesn’t begin to cover it. The cheap effects we were kind of expecting, but the leaden pace? The terrible direction? The fact that we actually had to research this movie before we discovered it was supposed to be a comedy? Yeah, that, we weren’t expecting.
That doesn’t stop it from being on DVD in Brazil, but you might want to handle the disc with tongs, and use a DVD player you don’t like.
3) The Shape of Things To Come (Canadian Star Wars)
Canada is a great country. Sure, despite the stereotypes of everybody being polite, it’s got its problems, but by and large, it’s like America, if America had a state that pretended it spoke French and was completely insane. Although Montreal? Better than Vegas. Just…trust us on this. Way better than Vegas. If we could trade Texas for Quebec, we’d do it in a heartbeat.
Anyway, one of the joys of Canada is the Canadian film industry, which is funded by the government and results in interesting, artistic films being produced, that nobody, including Canadians, actually goes to see. It’s like American indie films, only it’s the taxpayers losing money, not the filmmaker’s parents. But occasionally somebody has to pretend they want to make money, and that’s where disasters like “The Shape of Things To Come” get rolling.
Basically, “Shape” takes the title of a classic SF novel about predicting the future, throws out everything else, and makes it about robot wars on a buck ninety-five budget. It’s ridiculous, it’s stupid, it’s awesome. How awesome is it? It features Jack Palance, back when he took paychecks entirely in cases of Jack Daniels, as the Emperor knock-off. That’s how awesome it is. But not quite as awesome as Sonny Chiba with the Force.
2) Message From Space (Japanese Star Wars)
To be fair to the Japanese, they were turning out terrible SF movie ripoffs by the pound, and by the late ’70s, their film industry was absolutely desperate. The one-two punch of television and a lack of interest in movies meant that they were pretty much turning out whatever would sell, and most of what would sell was either softcore porn, exceptionally freaky and unnerving thrillers, and movies aimed at kids. So a Japanese Star Wars was all but inevitable.
Although, if we’re being honest, this movie does have a few awesome things going for it, like Sonny Chiba playing the hero, “Hans”. No, they never really bother to explain why a Japanese guy has a German name. It’s also directed by Kinji Fukasaku, who directed “Battle Royale”, some classic yakuza movies, and the best transvestite noir movie ever made, “Black Rose Mansion”. So it’s got that going for it.
On the other hand, Sonny Chiba with the Force is a bit disturbing. This is a guy who made a career ripping out throats onscreen. Do we really want him doing that at a distance?
Here’s a creepily silent trailer, for your viewing pleasure.
1) The Man Who Saved the World (Turkish Star Wars)
The Turkish film industry is famous, or maybe notorious would be a better word, for ripping off any movie it can find, or even any elements of any movie it can find. We once saw a Turkish barbarian movie that stole the main theme from “The Lion In Winter”. There are clips of Spider-Man fighting Captain America. There’s a “Turkish Superman”, a “Turkish E.T.”, and most memorably, “The Man Who Saved The World”, better known as “Turkish Star Wars.”
“Turkish Star Wars” tops the list for a simple reason: they couldn’t even be bothered to make their own shoddy effects. They simply cut out huge portions of “Star Wars” and intercut it with Turkish star Cuneyt Arkin jumping around in a jean jacket. Even better, Arkin, who has actually made some good movies, wrote the script.
If you really want to feel the pain, Google Video has your back, with the entire thing uploaded.
In case you hadn’t figured it out, they’re not really big with that whole “copyright enforcement” “thing” in Turkey. Happy viewing!
Forkparty is not legally responsible for anything you do to yourself during or after the movie to make the pain stop.
By Dan Seitz