Tag Archives: Star Wars

MAY THE FOURTH-A-PALOOZA: STAR WARS ITEMS

Mascot sword and pistolMay the Fourth is upon us once again. First up are some links to my previous Star Wars blog posts plus my full-length review of The Jet Benny Show, a Star Wars parody.

STAR WARS MEETS THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: THE MICRONAUTS – Click  HERE

THE HUMANOID (1979): THE WORST STAR WARS RIPOFF EVER – Click HERE

MY REVIEWS OF THE LAST JEDI AND SOLO – Click HERE 

STAR WARS SPOILERS – Click HERE

STAR WARS SPOILERS PART TWO – Click HERE 

Jet Benny ShowTHE JET BENNY SHOW (1986) – Buy this for the Star Wars fan in your life … but only if you strongly dislike the Star Wars fan in your life. Buy this for the Jack Benny fan in your life … but only if they’re too old and feeble to be capable of inflicting grievous bodily harm on you.

I was glad to finally see this video curiosity after having heard tantalizingly little about it over the years. It was not remotely worth the wait but it was good to see it and check it off my list, bird-watcher style, like I did with Ganjasaurus Rex years ago.

Yes, I know this overlong, under-entertaining Star Wars/ Jack Benny Show parody won a Kasdan Award in the 1980s but I think that winning that award says less about this project than does the fact that the people involved went on to do virtually nothing else afterward.

Jet Benny Show backRoger Evans directed The Jet Benny Show from a script by Mark Felch. Steve Norman stars as Jet Benny, a take-off on the real-life comedy legend Jack Benny. Norman does not do nearly as good a Jack Benny impression as we’re led to believe by the few positive remarks this pant-load of a film receives.

Steve’s rendition of Benny’s voice is reasonable but wouldn’t stand on its own without the aid of his more than reasonable facial resemblance to the late comedian. The mediocre nature of Norman’s imitation might not have stood out so much if he wasn’t expected to carry almost every moment of the 77 minute run time. Continue reading

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THE HAN SOLO OF THE 1930s: NORTHWEST SMITH

Northwest Smith

Northwest Smith

With the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story in theaters now what better time for my profile of the Han Solo of the 1930s. Female author C.L. Moore wrote a series of pulp adventures about her often neglected science fiction figure Northwest Smith.

THE HERO: Space traveling anti-hero Smith was created by the female writer C.L. Moore in the 1930s. Four decades before Han Solo, Northwest Smith was a ruthless swashbuckling smuggler, thief and all-around mercenary. Smith’s less than sterling character made him a refreshing change from the usually wholesome pulp heroes of the time.

THE STORIES: Northwest Smith’s adventures take place in the far future, when regular trade exists between Earth and the native inhabitants of Mars and Venus. The other planets in the solar system have been colonized by those Big Three worlds, providing a backdrop that combines elements of westerns, seagoing adventures and colonial-era war stories.

Wielding a blaster like a six-gun and piloting his deceptively fast and maneuverable spaceship The Maid Smith and his Venusian partner Yarol roam the solar system making a living by plying various illegal trades. Though Northwest and Yarol are career criminals they often find themselves forced by circumstances into taking actions similar to those of traditional heroes. Their motive is usually their own survival rather than altruism. Continue reading

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MAY THE FOURTH: THE WORST STAR WARS RIPOFF

Humanoid 2Readers of Balladeer’s Blog asked for more May the Fourth material, so here’s an “encore presentation” as they used to call reruns, of my 2015 review of The Humanoid. In my view this is the worst of the Italian Star Wars ripoffs.

I know many people consider Star Crash to be the worst of the Italo-Ripoffs but I’ve always gotten more laughs out of The Humanoid.  

The many, many ways this movie steals from Star Wars will become clear as we go along. Let’s deal with first things first:

Richard KielRichard Kiel plays the title figure. His real name is Golob but the Darth Vaderish bad guy arranges for Golob to be the guinea pig for a treatment that transforms ordinary people into powerful “Humanoids”. As a Humanoid Golob loses his beard for some reason but – even more comically – the beard suddenly reappears when he is returned to normal late in the movie.

Humanoid 5Golob in his amped-up Humanoid form has super-strength, is invulnerable to harm and can deflect energy blasts that the Rebel Alliance-style good guys shoot at him. The bad guys plan to use a warhead to expose every man, woman and child on Earth to the bio-treatment, thus creating an instant army of billions of super-powered Humanoids like Richard Kiel. (Good luck controlling them since the treatment will reduce them to mindless animals like Golob.)  

Corinne CleryCorinne Clery portrays Barbara Gibson, the spunky Princess Leia pastiche. Barbara is a prominent scientist of Metropolis, which is what the entire Earth has been renamed now that it is just one big planet-wide city in the far future setting of The Humanoid. Barbara studies a gifted Asian lad who controls the Force uh, I mean some kind of psychic or magical energy field. 

Lord GraalIvan Rassimov plays the main villain Lord Graal, whose entire army dresses exactly like Darth Vader. He does, too, but to stand out from his underlings HIS black helmet and mask have cutouts that let his eyes, mouth and cheeks show. Lord Graal wants to create the aforementioned Humanoid army so he can conquer the entire Milky Way galaxy. He has magical powers like the Asian boy.  Continue reading

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STAR WARS MEETS GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: THE MICRONAUTS

Micronauts 1May the 4th live long and prosper … or something or other.

With this Star Wars festival rolling around once again, I figured a look at The Micronauts would be appropriate.  

The Micronauts was one of those oddly-conceived Marvel Comics titles from the late 70s and early 80s that were about forcing a continuing storyline around an already-existing toy franchise. (Rom: Spaceknight was another example of this ultimate in ass-backward storytelling.)

And a young Joel Schumacher mused "Nipples on black armor, eh? Hmmmmm."

And a young Joel Schumacher mused “Nipples on black armor, eh? Hmmmmm.”

The above example of Six Degrees of George Lucas or whatever you want to call it was just my odd way of pointing out my reasoning for posting this item on the 4th of May.

The Micronauts (First Issue: January 1979) was mostly a strained imitation of the Star Wars universe but also had a few similarities with Marvel’s ORIGINAL Guardians of the Galaxy. Those Guardians – Vance Astro, Charley-27, Yondu and Martinex – were freedom fighters waging a guerilla war to free 30th Century Earth from the dictatorial rule of its alien conquerors, the lizardlike Badoon race.

Baron Karza horseThe Micronauts was set in the Microverse, a sub-atomic universe which was being ruled by the evil, black-armored Baron Karza, one of the most blatant Darth Vader ripoffs this side of Japan’s Swords of the Space Ark movies. Karza could detach his arms and legs and could transform the lower half of his body into that of a black horse (think of Centaurs) for no better reason than the fact that THAT was the gimmick of the Baron Karza toys. Kids could move around the arms and legs or replace his regular body with the horse-like lower body. Oh what fun! (?)

The Lawnmower Strikes Back!

The Lawnmower Strikes Back!

Karza’s power to perform those questionably useful acts was explained in the comic books as being part of his scientific enhancements from his Body Banks labs and from his abilities as a master of the Enigma Force. No, not The Force, which was part of the Star Wars universe. The Enigma Force was what Karza controlled, so you can see how it’s a whole different thing, right?

The Micronauts themselves were freedom fighters waging a guerilla war to free the Microverse from the dictatorial rule of the thoroughly evil Baron Karza. That rule was enforced by his Dog Soldiers, his obedient … uh … troopers … who were such blatant imitations of Imperial Troopers that George Lucas probably wept tears of blood every time a child bought a Dog Soldier action figure instead of an Imperial Trooper one.

At any rate, permit me to introduce you to the rag-tag rebels trying to bring down Karza’s empire of evil. Continue reading

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STAR WARS MEETS THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: THE MICRONAUTS

Micronauts 1May the 4th live long and prosper … or something or other. With this Star Wars festival coming right before tomorrow’s debut of the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie I figured a look at The Micronauts would be appropriate.  

The Micronauts was one of those oddly-conceived Marvel Comics titles from the late 70s and early 80s that were about forcing a continuing storyline around an already-existing toy franchise. (Rom: Spaceknight was another example of this ultimate in ass-backward storytelling.)

And a young Joel Schumacher mused "Nipples on black armor, eh? Hmmmmm."

And a young Joel Schumacher mused “Nipples on black armor, eh? Hmmmmm.”

The above example of Six Degrees of George Lucas or whatever you want to call it was just my odd way of pointing out my reasoning for posting this item on the 4th of May.

The Micronauts (First Issue: January 1979) was mostly a strained imitation of the Star Wars universe but also had a few similarities with Marvel’s ORIGINAL Guardians of the Galaxy. Those Guardians – Vance Astro, Charley-27, Yondu and Martinex – were freedom fighters waging a guerilla war to free 30th Century Earth from the dictatorial rule of its alien conquerors, the lizardlike Badoon race.

Baron Karza horseThe Micronauts was set in the Microverse, a sub-atomic universe which was being ruled by the evil, black-armored Baron Karza, one of the most blatant Darth Vader ripoffs this side of Japan’s Swords of the Space Ark movies. Karza could detach his arms and legs and could transform the lower half of his body into that of a black horse (think of Centaurs) for no better reason than the fact that THAT was the gimmick of the Baron Karza toys. Kids could move around the arms and legs or replace his regular body with the horse-like lower body. Oh what fun! (?) Continue reading

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STAR WARS EPISODE EIGHT SPOILERS II

harrison-ford

… … The elderly hobo who gave me this scoop. … …

Balladeer’s Blog has plenty of top sources in the industry, and of course by the industry I mean the business. Last January one of those sources leaked some spoilers to me about Star Wars Episode Eight: Attack of the Twelve Death Stars.

Strangely enough, a shabby old homeless guy was the source of this second set of spoilers. One of my other highly-placed sources assured me they knew a guy who had a lot of inside information about the new Star Wars films and arranged a secret meeting on a street corner.

Frankly the elderly hobo who showed up at the assigned place made me skeptical at first but maybe he was just in disguise because his info turned out to be rock solid and verifiable. I gave the guy a dollar to help him maintain his cover as a confused beggar and went on my way.

SPOILERS: THE SENSES-SHATTERING ORIGIN OF THE JEDI KNIGHTS – Luke Skywalker really HAS discovered the very first Jedi Temple on that island where Rey found him at the end of Episode Seven.

From the relics Luke examined he learned that the Jedi Knights were originally formed as a performance dance troupe. Their planet of origin was the site of that temple and, like all planets in the Star Wars universe every square inch of it is the same. This planet is composed of endless seas broken up here and there by islands with stone staircases on them.

The Jedi Knights were renowned for their dance moves, especially their back-flips and display of the “one-armed man’s jazz hands” stance. As time went on the pack of appealing, androgynous dancers wanted to spice up their act, so they invented batons that had lasers coming out both ends.

These “light batons” looked dazzling as the Jedi Knights twirled them around while dancing. The only down side was that if you weren’t careful the lasers could cut off one of your own limbs or the limbs of one of your co-dancers. Eons before those light batons began to be used as weapons there was already a tradition of Jedi Knights cutting each other’s hands, arms and legs off. Continue reading

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STAR WARS EPISODE EIGHT SPOILERS

Not pictured: my secret source

Not pictured: my secret source

Balladeer’s Blog has just learned some spoilers regarding the next Star Wars movie. My secret top-level source in the industry – and by the industry I mean the business – tells me that:

*** Episode Eight will feature TWO Death Stars!

*** Han Solo masters the Force as easily as everybody else can and comes back as a Force Ghost like Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda, etc. Continue reading

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