Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sandy Brooke, Suzy Stokey, Ross Hagen, Marya Gant, Aldo Ray, Dawn Wildsmith, Richard Hench, Michael Sonye, Lindy Skyles, Bobbie Bresee, Danita Aljuwani, Dori Renee Crofts, Liat Mathias, Mimi Monaco, Vivian Schilling, Karen Stanton, Gwen Perlman, Jade Barrett, Johnny Legend, Christopher Ray, John Carradine, Lee Forbes
Written by: Michael D. Sonye, based on a story by Miriam L. Preissel, Michael D. Sonye, Fred Olen Ray
Directed by: Fred Olen Ray
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 86
Date: 05/11/1987

Star Slammer (1986)

1 Star (out of 4)

Bars in the Stars

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Back in the 1980s, some friends and I used to host an annual bad movie party. I also used to work at a video store. So when a promo VHS copy of Star Slammer arrived at the store, it was like a gift from above. My boss let me take it home and it became a much-enjoyed part of our festival. Sometimes it feels good to have been the discoverer of something. I have held fond memories of Star Slammer ever since.

Now Kino Lorber has released it on DVD and Blu-ray. The movie, which is called The Adventures of Taura: Prison Ship Star Slammer on its title screen, is indeed bad. It's sometimes fun in a bad way, but like many bad movies, it's also frequently boring.

It's technically the same as any of the women-in-prison films of the 1970s and early 1980s, but tamer and sillier. Taura (Sandy Brooke) gets arrested and sent to the floating space-prison, where she brawls with her fellow inmates, earns their trust, and stages a breakout. Normally, this genre has lots of sex and nudity, but here we get only two scenes in which Brooke changes her top.

Aldo Ray co-stars in heavy, grotesque makeup as The Inquisitor, and none other than John Carradine has a small cameo, superimposed over a field of stars, sentencing Taura to the star slammer. It's similar to the way that Ed Wood used Bela Lugosi and Jack Hill used Boris Karloff, and it's a testament to director and co-writer Fred Olen Ray (Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Evil Toons, etc.) that he managed to keep this kind of "B" filmmaking alive for as long as he did.

There are some okay sets (leftover from other movies) and outer space shots (borrowed from other movies), and a musical score that sounds a lot like the one from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sequels were planned for the character of Taura, but none ever materialized.

The Blu-ray is of surprisingly good quality. Ray provides an interesting commentary track -- useful for anyone who is interested in low-budget filmmaking -- and there are some trailers, but not for this title. Optional subtitles are not included.

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