Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone

Cinema Monolith: 6/10 The Monolith
IMDb: 5.4/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: *½ out of 4

Released on May 20, 1983
Rated PG
90 minutes

Directed by Lamont Johnson

Written by David Preston, Edith Rey, Dan Goldberg, and Len Blum

Cast: Peter Strauss, Molly Ringwald, Ernie Hudson, Michael Ironside, Andrea Marcovicci, Beeson Carroll, Hrant Alianak, Deborah Pratt, Aleisa Shirley, Cali Timmins, and Harold Ramis as ‘Voice on Intercom’

The Video Store Action Heroes are at it again, this time taking off into the deep (and perhaps not so deep) reaches of space to bring you a quartet of non-blockbuster sci-fi action films of the ’80s; be sure to check out the reviews posted by Mikey at Wolfmans Cult Film Club, Greg at Destroy All Fanboys, and Mike at Mike’s Take on the Movies. As for me, look no further than the next few paragraphs, as I take you to planet Terra 11 and the forbidden domain of an evil cybernetic ruler with giant pincher arms and a goofball name, in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone.

A ‘starliner’ explodes in space, and only one escape pod is launched, containing—thankfully—three beautiful women, who crash on the nearest Earth-type planet and are kidnapped by desert raiders and taken to an area called The Zone, run by the tyrannical cyborg Overdog, who intends to use them as sexual playthings. Meanwhile, a space salvage collector, played by Peter Strauss, receives an all-points bulletin that anyone rescuing the women will be given a hefty reward; naturally, he answers the call, and heads to the planet surface to save them. There, he hooks up with a bothersome nomadic teen (Molly Ringwald) and a former military colleague (Ernie Hudson), who agree to help him.

I was seeing quite a few movies at my neighborhood multiplex back then, and you’d think I would’ve been eager to plunk down a few bucks to check out what hinted to an engaging outer space adventure…especially in 3-D. But looking back, I remember there were two particulars from the preview trailer that were successful in keeping me away. First and foremost was seeing a shrill Molly Ringwald as a co-star, a Brat Packer who I was definitely not a fan of at the time. And second, the existence of a villain called Overdog, whose name was not only patently ridiculous, but once I saw him in the movie, had me thinking that maybe a more fitting moniker—like maybe Overdick—would’ve made more sense.

I also assumed Strauss would be the glue that held it all together, and he was; even though he felt like a cross between Han Solo and Mel Gibson’s character from The Road Warrior, I still got a kick out his actions and delivery of dialogue. And being a serious actor in TV mini-series and film, he could easily have snoozed his way through this, but he didn’t. However, I still had qualms about Miss Ringwald, and sure enough, right off the bat she proved me right by being as juvenile and annoying as I’d expected. I will give her credit, though; she toned it down after a while, and by film’s end I even enjoyed the teaming of her and Strauss, and I actually found myself—gulp—caring about them.

I’ll admit, I had a better time with this than I was expecting, especially when one considers it was the forgotten half of a two-film set I’d purchased several years earlier. Yes, it was silly at times, and overboard, and cheap-looking, and derivative, but even with all that it was still entertaining, and it was cheesy early-’80s sci-fi, with the requisite music, effects, and hairstyles to go with it, so it automatically scored bonus points for that. I’d say give it a go if you’re a fan of the 1980s like I am; I just wish I’d seen it on Blu-ray, which might’ve offered a better, sharper viewing experience, and made those cool planet landscapes (filmed in Utah and here in Arizona) look even cooler.  (6/10)

18 comments on “Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone

  1. I’ll be on it tomorrow as I gotta go out now. Also great to have you back Todd. Speak soon.

    • Todd B
      1/19/19

      Thanks Mikey, good to be back; you’ll be seeing more of me in February, I promise. Have fun wherever you go today (which I’m guessing is your nearest video retailer, to pick up the Blu-ray of Spacehunter).

      • Video store said it has been so popular after this Todd guy released his review that it’s all sold out! Lucky I had another source and I’ve got my hands on this gold dust. Truth be told I started watching it very late last night. Did a double bill with Mike’s Hangar 18. Unfortunately I got to the attack on a train with sails and woke up and it had ended lol… I was enjoying it I promise, it was nearly 3am.

        So I will watch the rest tonight and return with proper thoughts before I read your words. Hope that’s ok! By the way the crashed escape pod spacesuit design was out of this world. What a crazy design. Like a golden squid suit. Nice that they housed some fine ladies and not some old trout 😉

        Will be back soon.

      • Todd B
        1/20/19

        Perfectly okay, Mikey…hope you have fun with it tonight, and perhaps the sexually-charged Ringwald/Overdog shower scene will help keep you awake this time around. And yeah, those golden space suits the three ladies were wearing were quite funky; I’m thinking the three were a band on that cruise ship, a sort of ersatz Josie and the Pussycats, and those were actually their stage outfits.

        I do have one question, though: how are you watching this movie…cable, pay-TV, a video rental, or do you own it?

  2. geelw
    1/19/19

    When you walk outside next time, look up and stage left (or right, depending on which side of the street you’re on), as you’ll see Overdog on his crane coming to get you for calling him a mean name. It would have been nice to see a followup to this, but I think Ringwald’s star shooting status later put her on a different pay scale and everyone else was probably not too interested thanks to more lucrative work. Still, it’s a fun flick despite the flaws.

    • Todd B
      1/19/19

      Good lord, you were right: I looked, and Overdung was there, acting all uppity and demanding as usual. And I think it would’ve made for a pretty cool sequel to have Strauss, Molly, Hudson, and those three rescued space babes all teaming up and heading out on a new adventure somewhere. And this time, it would be rated R!

  3. So here’s one I have actually yet to see but knew the title and poster immediately. Yes, it’s buried in a tube around here somewhere with a bunch of other ones that haven’t seen the light of day in over 20 years. I’ll have to make the effort to give it a look. Well done!

    • Todd B
      1/19/19

      What is this, the second movie I’ve ever reviewed that you haven’t seen before? Yeah Mike, I’d say give it a look, when you’re in the mood for something ’80s and goofy to watch on a slow Saturday night. Although…I’ve read where this was shot in a wide 2.39:1 aspect ratio, but has been transferred to disc anywhere from 1.78:1 to 1.85:1 (my DVD says 1.85:1, but I’m no expert, so I’m not sure). All sources I’ve found say the Blu-ray is NOT the original ratio, or in 3-D…oh well. I’ll eagerly await your review!

  4. Eric Binford
    1/19/19

    Guilty pleasure! I’m Gen X and Molly Ringwald was my favorite next-door-girl so I tend to forgive her for her indiscretions! 😉 Seriously, this is pretty silly but watchable. I never saw the 3-D version, though.

    • Todd B
      1/19/19

      I’ve read that the 3-D version seen in theaters was really hard on the eyes, so maybe it’s good we both missed out on it. And my stance on Molly has softened somewhat over the years…but then again, after checking IMDb just now, I realized I haven’t seen anything of hers since – dear lord – The Pick-Up Artist in 1987, so maybe it’s time I gave her adult roles a chance.

  5. Dracula
    1/19/19

    In the photo is he shocked because he lost his 80’s hairstyle?

    • Todd B
      1/20/19

      I’m guessing he has a lot more to worry about than his lack of hair:

      null

  6. Spot on with the Josie and the Pussycats comparison. Your comments won’t let me reply to that thread line again!

    So yes I got there. Molly Ringwald and her annoying shouty voice helped. First up I have to say I don’t know this wolf guy! Our paths haven’t crossed yet. Maybe when I finish my time machine I’ll bump into him in the future. OK! let’s get started.

    Super hot Amazon water girls! “Breeding with us would kill him!” Wolff “I’ll take that bet!” LOL Me too. Wolff’s android was super sexy too, such a shame she got it so early on. Love all the Mad Max style vehicles designs. There was a moment it started to get a bit boring BUT then they chucked in a crazy bunch of skin bag fat pod psycho creatures. LOl that scene was nuts. Plus I don’t believe I would of ever recognized Michael Ironside. He had a great line “Undress her…. slowly” Plus he had the most impractical hands ever! hehe yeah your right “overdick” would of been better for him.

    I really enjoyed it’s madness. Its set pieces were great and the final cuddle was nice. Even if Molly was annoying as hell. OH how could I forget! It had the fourth Ghostbuster too.

    • Todd B
      1/23/19

      I was wanting to add an entire separate paragraph about Wolff’s android companion, but didn’t. I really liked her character, and the interactions she had with Wolff, and to be brutally honest (sorry, Molly!), I would rather have seen THAT character throughout the film than Molly’s. I actually said “NO!” out loud when he found her dead…it really pissed me off!

      And yeah, Overdork’s hands…it would’ve been nice to see that he needed them for something specific, like lifting boulders or crushing old cars or something. Instead, it’s “Arrgh, can someone help me open this can of soda!”

      So not the best, but it had some good, fun moments, and plenty to look/gawk at. And I just realized…did you know they made a sequel to Spacehunter? Check out its one-sheet poster below:

      null

      • I know! I know Todd! What were they thinking. Yes she was mighty fine. Lounging around the spaceship with her lovely legs up. Maybe it might be worth us starting a Kickstarter to have her digitally added to all scenes in the film? Sure there most be hordes of Spacehunter fans that think the same. Sure to a million pounds from backers!
        LOL I actually said “Nooo” too. hehe. Then he melted her! Could of made some young cyberpunks day wandering around the desert kicking stones bored out of his mind…..”Yikes what’s that…. OOo… well hello”

        No way! They made a sequel! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!?

      • Todd B
        1/29/19

        We don’t need a Kickstarter campaign…you and I can just re-edit it so that all Molly scenes are removed, and all lady cyborg shots are used again and again, in different contexts, and we’ll have someone re-dub new dialogue for her! It’ll be perfect!

        And if I didn’t quite make myself clear with my mention of a Spacehunter sequel, I’ve gone back and added one last line to my previous comment, which will hopefully clarify things.

      • OH no! I feel like a loser! How did I not get the gag! Of course. Spacehunter 2 – Josie and the Pussy Cats in Outer Space… hehe It so looks like the bunch of them too.

      • Todd B
        1/31/19

        If I was offered the chance to join a deep-space exploration program, and I was given the choice of traveling with either Richard Dreyfuss’ team in CE3K, the Lost in Space gang on the Jupiter II, or with Josie and the Pussycats, I’d go with the Pussycats, without hesitation.

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Review Totals

Movies Reviewed: 219

From the Monolith: 123

Movies by Decade

1920s – 0
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