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by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: Starcrash (Shout! Factory)

This Italian-made 1978 science-fiction farrago from writer/ director Lewis Coates (nee Luigi Cozzi) is one of the goofiest space operas made in the wake of Star Wars’ success. It’s frequently laughable and often silly, but it’s also lovably cartoonish and clearly made with affection.

Bikini-clad space warrior Stella Star (Caroline Munro) and her co-pilot Akton (Marjoe Gortner) are tapped to wage war against the maniacal Count Zarth Arn (Joe Spinell, at his eyerolling nuttiest), who is hell-bent on conquering the universe.

The special effects, including stop-motion robots, laser swords (hmmm… where’d they get that idea?) and lots of blinking lights, are a hoot… and occasionally pretty good! This interstellar mania is made even more entertaining by its admirably straight-faced cast, which also includes Christopher Plummer (dignity intact) as the Emperor and a young David Hasselhoff as his son, Simon. Adding another (misplaced?) touch of class is the score by John Barry.

High art it’s not, but Starcrash is not without its loony charms, as its cult following will happily attest. Both the special-edition DVD ($19.93 retail) and Blu-ray ($26.97 retail) include a bevy of special features that are sure to please the Starcrash faithful. Rated PG.

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