A year ago, the idea of remas­tered, anamor­phic DVD’s from the Roger Corman/New World library would have seemed absurd,  Most exploita­tion fans had given up by then because they’d been given lack­lus­ter treat­ment twice over.  The New Concorde discs were almost all made from recy­cled VHS mas­ters, even the ones with spe­cial fea­tures.  Fans got their hopes up in 2005 when Buena Vista acquired DVD rights for his New World-era library and put out the 1st ever anamor­phic trans­fer of Death Race 2000… but it was all down­hill from there, imme­di­ate­ly going back to those old VHS mas­ters.

Thus, it was tru­ly a breath of fresh air when Shout! Factory picked up DVD rights and began the reis­sue series that gave us daz­zling new ver­sions of Death Race 2000, Piranha, Galaxy Of Terror, etc., all with qual­i­ty remas­ter­ing and plen­ty of extras.  It’s eas­i­ly been the event of the year in cult-flick DVD cir­cles and they con­tin­ue to do impres­sive work, often lav­ish­ing a-list treat­ment on films it would not have seemed pos­si­ble for.  Case in point: their new Starcrash 2-disc set.  Not only has this deliri­ous cult fave received a lav­ish remas­ter­ing, it also fea­tures an amount of extras that will make your jaw hit the floor.

But first, the trans­fer.  This set boasts a new, anamor­phic 1.78:1 trans­fer that was tak­en from the vault ele­ments for the New World ver­sion of the film.  The results are down­right deli­cious: detail is sharp and the vivid, bright hues of the film’s can­dy-col­ored visu­als pop right off the screen.  It’s also nice to note that it sounds as good as it looks, offer­ing both the orig­i­nal Dolby mix and a new 5.1 remix.  Your Humble Reviewer lis­tened to the lat­ter for this review and it’s a real whizz-bang affair that makes strong use of John Barry’s hero­ic musi­cal score and the care­ful­ly-lay­ered sound effects (get ready for tons of laser zaps and explo­sions whoosh­ing across the speak­ers).

Scads of extras fill the remain­der of disc 1 and all of disc 2.  It all begins with two (!) com­men­tary tracks by Stephen Romano, an author (Shock Festival) and film­mak­er who co-pro­duced this set with Cliff MacMillan.  As the lin­er notes Romano penned for this set reveal, Romano was strick­en with an all-con­sum­ing love for this film at an ear­ly age and this spe­cial edi­tion reflects that fix­a­tion in all its impas­sioned glo­ry.  He also wrote an unpub­lished book on the mak­ing of Starcrash so he’s got plen­ty to share.

The first track is a con­tex­tu­al affair that aims to estab­lish how Starcrash fits into sci­ence fiction/1970’s film­mak­ing his­to­ry.  The first ten min­utes gets bogged down in intro­duc­to­ry rig­marole but smoothes out when Romano moves into the cin­e­ma trends that were at play when Starcrash entered the world, thus allow­ing him to cre­ate an inter­est­ing con­text for his take on the film.  This is fol­lowed by a bio­graph­i­cal sketch of Luigi Cozzi that segues nice­ly into the his­to­ry of the pro­duc­tion.  There’s plen­ty of good info to be gleaned here for those who won­der how this cin­e­mat­ic odd duck came to be.

The sec­ond track is a scene-speci­fic com­men­tary and the most enter­tain­ing of the pair.  Romano lets loose with a bar­rage of facts and anec­dotes that cov­er every­thing from how speci­fic visu­al effects were achieved to first-hand accounts of what was going on off-cam­era dur­ing par­tic­u­lar sce­nes.  He drops some mind-blow­ing facts that have nev­er been heard before (the iden­ti­ty of the per­son who dubbed Munro is a gold­en nugget of info) as well as sev­er­al great sto­ries about Joe Spinell.

And those com­men­taries are only the begin­ning.  The first disc also includes two fea­turettes, one a 40-plus-min­utes inter­view with Luigi Cozzi and the sec­ond an analy­sis of the score by Mars, the com­poser behind Deadhouse Music.  The Cozzi inter­view is a charmer, with the direc­tor going through the his­to­ry of his career and the mak­ing of Starcrash in a hum­ble, like­able man­ner.  The music fea­turet­te is a nov­el inclu­sion, with Mars relat­ing some inter­est­ing triv­ia about Barry’s work (it was record­ed quick­ly at the end of the scor­ing ses­sions for Moonraker) and then dis­cussing a few key cues in detail as they play along under his analy­sis.  It’s a nice, acces­si­ble piece that does a fine job break­ing down the scor­ing process for the lay­man.

The first disc also offers a col­lec­tion of Starcrash trail­ers, includ­ing com­men­taries by Joe Dante and Eli Roth.  Dante’s is a must-lis­ten as he cut the trail­er, the final spot he cut for New World.  The disc clos­es out with a mam­moth image gallery that cov­ers every­thing from con­cep­tu­al art to behind-the-sce­nes pho­tos.

The sec­ond disc digs even deep­er, begin­ning with a 37-min­ute assem­blage of delet­ed and alter­nate sce­nes.  Starcrash was cut by around 5 min­utes for American release and this scene-by-scene col­lec­tion shows how mul­ti­ple moments play dif­fer­ent­ly in the European ver­sion.  There are also title cards before each scene offer­ing help­ful info about what to look for.  The most fun of the­se is an alter­nate end cred­its scene offer­ing a rad­i­cal rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of the film’s main the­me.

There is also anoth­er inter­view, a 72-min­ute (!) chat with Caroline Munro.  It’s a bit too much of a good thing as it’s a sta­t­ic talk­ing-head piece that’s only bro­ken up by title cards for the ques­tion.  It’s in seri­ous need of cut­aways to stills and film footage, not to men­tion a lit­tle prun­ing of the excess chat before and after each answer.  That said, Munro hold court in her appeal­ing, self-effac­ing style and shares a few good tales.

The oth­er fea­turet­te on Disc 2 comes from fx-man Armando Valcauda and relates his mem­o­ries via a mon­tage of footage and behind-the-sce­nes pho­tos.  His title cards suf­fer from some bro­ken English but he relates his tale with plen­ty of good cheer and kind words for his col­lab­o­ra­tors.  Fans will want to watch it because it fea­tures rough footage of two stop-motion fx sce­nes shot but not used in the film.

The sec­ond disc is round­ed out by a 20-min­ute col­lec­tion of silent, black-and-white behind the sce­nes footage that Romano nar­rates and a DVD-ROM inclu­sion of the film’s script.  The lat­ter inclu­sion is dif­fer­ent from the usu­al script-PDF because it also fea­tures stills, gor­geous con­cep­tu­al art and anno­ta­tions by Romano.  Thus, it’s a must for the film’s obses­sive fans.

Some review­ers have expressed dis­be­lief at the obses­sive nature and ragged edges of this 2-disc set — and if you aren’t accus­tomed to obses­sive schlock ado­ra­tion, it might seem a bit much — but it all makes per­fect sense to Your Humble Reviewer.  Like the film it pays trib­ute to, this two-disc set is a shag­gy yet thor­ough­ly ingra­ti­at­ing affair fueled by pure cinephilic love.  It’s hard to imag­ine a more appro­pri­ate way to cel­e­brate Starcrash.

Starcrash

Starcrash

While run­ning from the author­i­ties, a pair of smug­glers (Marjoe Gortner, Caroline Munro) are recruit­ed by The Emperor (Christopher Plummer) to res­cue his miss­ing son (David Hasselhoff) while they track down a mys­te­ri­ous super weapon designed by an evil Count (Joe Spinell). Their wild adven­ture takes them through time and space as they bat­tle giant robots, cave­men and ama­zons.






Starcrash (Blu-ray)

Starcrash (Blu-ray)