Tag Archives: Star Wars

VITO GESUALDI: MOVIE AND GAME CRITIC EXTRAORDINAIRE

masc chair and bottleRegular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are familiar with my fondness for laughably bad movies. Vito Gesualdi at YT is one of the funniest and most irreverent critics to be found. I would recommend any of his reviews but for newbies I can tell you he does what may be THE funniest takedown of the disastrous Rise of Skywalker.

Because that review is over an hour long here is his much shorter review of the virtually worthless COMPANION BOOK to the Disney Sequel Trilogy. If you like it, you can watch Vito’s Rise of Skywalker review HERE  

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Filed under Bad and weird movies

THE HUMANOID (1979): THE WORST STAR WARS RIPOFF

Humanoid 2We all know today’s date, so let’s examine the notoriously bad Italian ripoff of Star Wars. 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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REBOOTING STAR WARS

masc chair and bottleBalladeer’s Blog is all about responding to reader questions and requests. Some of you have mentioned that you’d like to see me write about what revisions I’d have made to the Star Wars sequels in the same way I write about revisions I’d have made to old Killraven stories or how I’d have handled the unfinished Harry Flashman novels.

I have only ever been a casual (at most) Star Wars fan so it’s possible that lets me approach the subject with a certain detachment that many others lack. I have no favorite characters and I’m not really invested in the story or its universe outside of the original lightning-in-a-bottle 1977 film.

My take is that the sequel trilogy is too much of a mess and has nothing worth salvaging. However, since there is more and more talk about recasting the major roles like Luke, Han and Leia for a potential reboot or tv series I figured THAT’S what I’d look at.

Star WarsThe original 1977 Star Wars is about as close to perfection as you can get in terms of a movie succeeding at what it was intended to be: in this case a fun, uncomplicated valentine to the days of simpler storytelling as a nice antidote to the glut of self-consciously “deep” movies by that point in the 70s.

There’s nothing wrong with deep or introspective movies, of course, but by 1977 it seems that audiences were VERY hungry for a movie that didn’t wallow in unsolvable problems and was instead sheer feel-good spectacle. (I often speculate that if the Robert Shaw film Swashbuckler had come out after Star Wars instead of before it, it might have been received much more enthusiastically.)

My own take on potentially casting a new Luke, Han & Leia and starting over would be that the original Star Wars should remain untouched. Begin the reboot AFTER that film but eliminate the overrated twist in which Darth Vader turns out to be Luke’s father and Leia turns out to be his sister. Continue reading

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Filed under Bad and weird movies, opinion

STAR WARS: EPISODE TEN OPENING CRAWL

Balladeer’s Blog’s sources in the industry – and by the industry I mean the business – have leaked to me the wording of the opening crawl for the next Star Wars movie.

Dark Rey“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … 

EPISODE X: SUBVERT THIS!

DEJA VU! Rey Skywalker has fallen to the Dark Side! Rechristening herself Empress Palpatine she single-handedly conquered every inhabited world in dozens of galaxies. On the second day she conquered even more!

Using heretofore unknown Force abilities, Empress Palpatine altered the fabric of reality itself to the point where no one alive even remembers a time when she was not the unquestioned ruler of thousands of planets. Continue reading

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RISE OF SKYWALKER RUMOR: REY WAS CLONED FROM LUKE’S SEVERED HAND

Luke and ReyEven people who hate the way the soulless Disney Corporation has damaged the Star Wars franchise have been letting me know how excited they are about this particular rumor. Word has it that J.J. Abrams and possibly George Lucas have come up with a way of rising from the ruins of Rian “Man-Baby” Johnson’s ineptly directed and poorly written Last Jedi AND make Rey less of a Mary Sue.

How will they do all that? Supposedly by showing that Rey was cloned from Luke’s severed hand from The Empire Strikes Back. (See link below) Though it sounds ludicrous, this would actually undo Rian Johnson’s mangling of many story elements Abrams tried to set him up with in The Force Awakens.

I’m at the most only a casual Star Wars fan, so I’m not that invested in the fate of the franchise or any of its mishandled characters but even I can see how this rumor – if true – could successfully retcon the wreckage left behind by Rian Johnson.

masc graveyard new*** Maz, the collector of Force Relics, had Luke’s light saber that fell with his severed hand in Empire. Remember her saying in The Force Awakens that how she got it is “a story for another time?” Whoever she got it from may have used tissue samples from Luke’s hand to create the Rey clone.

*** This would also explain Rey’s bizarrely unlikely familiarity with the Millenium Falcon, the way Luke’s old light saber “called to her” in TFA, and the shadowy memories she experienced when touching the saber in that movie.

*** That theory would also go a long way toward pleasing fans and non-fans alike regarding the way Rey needed no training to do Jedi Mind Tricks or to expertly wield a light saber in her first appearance. If she was cloned from Luke’s genetic material she’d have built-in Force talents. Continue reading

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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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