The success of the first Star Wars in 1977 led to a whole raft of pale, would-be imitators attempting to cash in on the space opera craze. The most infamous of these is Starcrash, written (barely) by Luigi Cozzi and Nat Wachsberger and directed by Cozzi. The elements that appear to be wholesale lifted from A New Hope include a space warrior monk who yields a laser sword; a cape-wearing villain quite coincidentally named Zarth; a planet-sized superweapon; a neurotic robot sidekick with an over-the-top accent; and an opening shot of a giant spaceship flying into the audience’s field of vision from overhead.
It’s very much not a good movie, though as cheese goes it’s quite enjoyable. It even boasts some extremely strong elements that Star Wars lacks. Such as:
- A character who is played by a quite-obviously-drunk, Christopher Plummer.
- David Hasselhoff wearing guyliner.
- And a giant, topless metal woman.
One of the cultural heroes Stella Star (Caroline Munro) and Akton (Marjoe Gortner) briefly encounters during their quest to destroy Count Zarth’s superweapon is a tribe of Amazon-esque warrior women led by Zarth’s ally Queen Corelia (Nadia Cassini). (For the non-Star Wars faithful, Corellia is the name of the planet Han Solo comes from—you have to at least give Cozzi and Wachsberger credit for occasionally going beyond the obvious for their references.) The presence of an entire group of female warriors, clothed in male gaze-friendly miniskirts and midriff-bearing tops though they are, actually gives Starcrash a larger number of female characters than A New Hope… but that’s none of my business.
The Amazons don’t really get much by screentime or characterization, and they’d be more or less forgettable were it not for one thing: their secret weapon is a giant robot woman. And the giant robot woman.... has nips.
The robot has approximately 90 seconds of screentime, but she lives forever in my heart. What are the nipples supposed to be? Aside from "evidence that the people who made this movie are definitely men," as backed up by the fact that there are more shots of the robot's boobs than her face--but work with me here. Are they gun barrels, Austin Powers Fembot-style? Or some sort of radar? Spare batteries? Or, my chosen interpretation: Is the robot an early proponent of Free the Nipple?
Eat your heart out, Ray Harryhausen.