It’s been a while since Corman fans were last able to enjoy a New World Pictures clas­sic on blu-ray.  Thankfully, Shout! Factory has added a fan favorite to their col­lec­tion of Corman blu-ray releas­es in the form of Battle Beyond The Stars.  This release gives the film the spe­cial edi­tion treat­ment it deserves, pair­ing a sharp look­ing trans­fer with a col­lec­tion of extras that com­bine mate­ri­al from its DVD edi­tion with a few worth­while new fea­turettes.

This set starts off nice­ly with a new anamor­phic, high-def trans­fer.  It’s a huge improve­ment on the old VHS and DVD ver­sions of this title, bring­ing a new lev­el of depth and detail to the image.  There is some peri­od­ic speck­ling and a bit of ele­ment dam­age but the major­i­ty of this pre­sen­ta­tion is tru­ly impres­sive.  The pri­ma­ry-col­ored light­ing real­ly pops in this pre­sen­ta­tion and the fre­quent effects sce­nes have a clar­i­ty that shows off their old-school opti­cals to hand­some effect.  There are two audio options: a stan­dard Dolby 2.0 stereo mix and a loss­less 5.1 remix.  It makes effec­tive use of the film’s mag­nif­i­cent James Horner score as well as some great direc­tion­al sound effects (designed by John Carpenter musi­cal col­lab­o­ra­tor Alan Howarth!).

Fans will also be hap­py with the expan­sive set of extras on this disc.  For starters, it pre­serves the two com­men­tary tracks record­ed for the New Concorde DVD of this film.  The first track pairs pro­duc­er Roger Corman with screen­writer John Sayles while the sec­ond is a solo track for Gale Anne Hurd, a future pro­duc­er who was Corman’s assis­tant at the time of the film.

The Corman/Sayles com­men­tary is a worth­while lis­ten for fans of either per­son.  Both men dis­cuss the film, with Corman focus­ing on the pro­duc­tion specifics while Sayles dis­cuss­es the chal­lenges of writ­ing a sci-fi film dri­ven by effects.  You’ll also learn about direc­tor Jimmy Murakami, how Corman came to be involved with him and what became of him after work­ing on this, his only live-action fea­ture.  However, the big sur­prise with this track is that the film-speci­fic stuff takes up only about half the chat.  They go back and forth between dis­cussing the film and broad­er top­ics like the evo­lu­tion of visu­al effects tech­niques and how edit­ing can be used to trick audi­ences into think­ing they’re see­ing some­thing they didn’t see.  Any b-movie fan will want to check in on this chat.

In com­par­ison, Hurd’s com­men­tary is rather dry and suf­fers from peri­od­ic gaps… but it’s worth stick­ing with because she dis­cuss­es a lot of nuts and bolts minu­ti­ae of the pro­duc­tion. For exam­ple, you find out the film had 160 effects shots on a bud­get of $2 mil­lion (the cost of every­thing, includ­ing star salaries) and why used fast-food con­tain­ers were such a pop­u­lar con­struc­tion mate­ri­al for the space­ship sets.  Most impor­tant­ly, she talks about work­ing with James Cameron: she fond­ly describes how he dis­tin­guished him­self as a ris­ing star on this film and how this film was ground zero for their suc­cess­ful pro­duc­tion part­ner­ship.

There  is also a pair of fea­turettes cre­at­ed for this new edi­tion.  The first is called “The Man Who Would Be Shad” and is an inter­view with star Richard Thomas.  He proves to be a wit­ty and charm­ing inter­view sub­ject, dis­cussing Corman’s “ban­dit moviemak­ing” with affec­tion and enthu­si­asm.  In the space of about 15 min­utes, he goes into detail about his co-stars, where this film fits into his career and some fun mem­o­ries about see­ing the film in the­aters.  Clips from the film are edit­ed in as a coun­ter­point to his com­ments and they help cre­ate a snap­py, ener­get­ic pace.

That said, the big­ger attrac­tion here is the sec­ond fea­turet­te, “Space Opera On A Shoestring.”  It con­sists of inter­views with a vari­ety of the peo­ple involved in the spe­cial effects as well as the edi­tors and a few key mem­bers of the pro­duc­tion staff.  The end result offers a wealth of detail on the inter­per­son­al details behind the film’s hec­tic pro­duc­tion sched­ule, includ­ing col­or­ful tales of a young James Cameron in action (a tale about an argu­ment with the d.p. is a high­light) and how Corman could be a ruth­less­ly effi­cient taskmas­ter when the pro­duc­tion ran into trou­ble.  Virtually every effects guy inter­viewed here went on to a major Hollywood career so it’s fas­ci­nat­ing to hear their tales of the blood, sweat & tears that went into putting togeth­er their big break.

The remain­der of the disc is devot­ed to an expan­sive array of pro­mo­tion­al mate­ri­als for the film.  There is a rough but watch­able the­atri­cal trail­er and a radio spot as well as image gal­leries that fea­ture behind-the-sce­nes pho­tos, stills and a vari­ety of ad mats.  It’s worth going through the image gal­leries to see pic­tures of a pre-fame Cameron in action on the set (there’s also a shot of the alien from Without Warning in one gallery for rea­sons unknown!).

All in all, this disc of Battle Beyond The Stars is a great deal for fans.  The new trans­fer looks and sounds great, it ben­e­fits from the A/V boost offered by the blu-ray for­mat and it pairs togeth­er some qual­i­ty vin­tage sup­ple­ments with some smart new addi­tions that fill in the infor­ma­tion­al gaps.  Corman enthu­si­asts need to pick this one up.

Battle Beyond The Stars (DVD)

Battle Beyond The Stars (DVD)

As our gift to you, we’re offer­ing an iron-on of the orig­i­nal Battle Beyond The Stars the­atri­cal key art exclu­sive­ly from ShoutFactory.com when you pur­chase either the DVD or BD.Only avail­able here while sup­plies last!Click To Enlarge30th Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition!Seven mer­ce­nar­ies are recruit­ed from through­out the galaxy to save a peace­ful plan­et from the threat of an evil tyrant bent on dom­i­nat­ing the entire uni­verse. Among them are a lizard-like humanoid, a space cow­boy, a female war­rior and a brood­ing killer-for-hire.Also avail­able on Blu-ray.






Battle Beyond The Stars (Blu-ray)

Battle Beyond The Stars (Blu-ray)

As our gift to you, we’re offer­ing an iron-on of the orig­i­nal Battle Beyond The Stars the­atri­cal key art exclu­sive­ly from ShoutFactory.com when you pur­chase either the DVD or BD.Only avail­able here while sup­plies last!Click To Enlarge30th Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition!Seven mer­ce­nar­ies are recruit­ed from through­out the galaxy to save a peace­ful plan­et from the threat of an evil tyrant bent on dom­i­nat­ing the entire uni­verse. Among them are a lizard-like humanoid, a space cow­boy, a female war­rior and a brood­ing killer-for-hire.Also avail­able on DVD.