1/19/07

820 Space Mutiny

(1988, SciFi, color)

Big McLargeHuge

Rating: ****

In a nutshell:

Basement-dwelling high school band members rebel…in SPACE!

Summary:

Floor waxers of the far-flung future!The industrial basement, er, starship Southern Sun has journeyed through space for many generations, and will journey on for many more before it finally reaches its destination: a fresh new world, ripe for colonization. Not everyone is particularly happy about this. Lead Enforcer Kalgan, for instance, would rather sabotage the ship, sell the inhabitants and crew into space pirate slavery, and use the proceeds to retire on an already inhabited world nearby. Realizing this plan would meet some opposition from those he plans to enslave, Kalgan wanders the warehouse, um, starship in secret, blowing up rusting pipes at random.

One such explosion destroys a docking bay, much to the consternation of the people attempting to use it at the time. The ship that was landing explodes, killing everyone aboard except for the pilot. Ship Commander Santa Claus, er, Jansen is understandably upset, but not quite as upset as his daughter Leah. She had a friend on board and blames the beefy pilot Ryder for his death. Some non sequitur banter extended over several truncated scenes reveals Ryder was also a friend of the deceased. Leah apologizes by sexually abusing a hula-hoop.

Fortunately, the red and gold high school marching band, er, Enforcers interrupt the hula-hoop discotheque scene to murder a bridge officer and flee in their riding floor waxers, um, High-Speed Intra-Ship Conveyances. Leah and Ryder give chase and end up in a freezing facility, where the taut-faced Kalgan has been shrink-wrapping all those who oppose him. They figure out Kalgan’s game and go back to the bridge to warn Leah’s father. Commander Jansen reluctantly acknowledges the mutiny, declares martial law, and puts Ryder in charge of quelling the rebellion. Ryder and Leah celebrate by shtoinking each other’s brains out on the concrete floor of the local Costco Garden Center, er, On-Board Botanical Laboratory.

Meanwhile, a pair of Cylon, er, space pirate ships arrive to demand the crippled Southern Sun’s immediate surrender. Apparently Kalgan and the pirates made some rather major miscalculations about the relative strength of their vessels; the Southern Sun takes two shots, both pirate ships explode, and the fight is over. Upset at the failure of his initial scheme, Kalgan switches to Plan B. He kidnaps Leah and threatens to kill her unless Jansen surrenders control of the bridge.

Ryder disguises himself with a red and gold band uniform and infiltrates the Enforcer’s ranks to rescue Leah. He comes across her just as she has finished seducing her way past the stupid and libidinous Enforcer guard. They punch, shoot, and kick their way back to the bridge, while Kalgan throws a fit and storms after them. Ryder organizes the white and blue high school marching band, er, Ship’s Engineers to fight them off with laser pistols, mini-bazookas, and short-range flamethrowers. Band members from both sides fall over railings by the dozen. The enforcers finally retreat, leaving Kalgan among the dead.

But he’s not quite dead. After the basement, um, starship battleground clears, he hops on a riding floor waxer, er, High-Speed Intra-Ship Conveyance to avenge himself against Ryder. A floor-waxing road duel ensues, at the end of which Ryder screams like a little girl and leaps from his Conveyance. It collides with Kalgan and explodes. More truncated non sequitur dialogue seems to imply Ryder and Leah’s imminent betrothal, while the wounded Kalgan escapes into the warehouse plumbing, um, Intricate Starship Mechanical Thingy Department.

Interspersed with the above, we see a number of scenes depicting one to two dozen skinny women in gauzy veils and ragged leotards, er, telepathic sex nuns from outer space, a.k.a. Bellarians. Sometimes they seduce the minor male characters with their minds, but mostly they just dance with lightning balls. I don’t know what they have to do with anything, and apparently the filmmakers don’t either.

Introduction:

Bridget gets villainous.Tom and Crow peruse Mike’s encyclopedias, and are not happy with their obsolescence. Among other hyperbolic complaints, they note an included mailing address for Machu Picchu, and photos of Stonehenge under construction.

Host Segment One:

Mike has purchased new encyclopedias, each one with an Internet uplink that updates constantly. Crow and Tom note they are much more complete and up-to-date, and include twenty-seven pages on Gwen Stefani alone. Still unsatisfied, Tom and Crow complain that they have nothing left to complain about. Down in Roman times, Pearl, Brain Guy, and Bobo have been locked in the dungeons. Brain Guy could get them out, if his brain wasn’t too far away for him to think clearly. Pearl wants him to get Mike down to help them, but Brain Guy manages to misinterpret her request all three times.

Host Segment Two:

Mike settles in for classical music and afternoon tea, but Tom and Crow have found escape pods in the loading bay, and are outside using them in a game of outer space demolition derby. “Eat death, Servo!” cries Crow. “Eat munchy, crunchy, chocolatey, cocoa death, Crow!” shouts Tom. They destroy the pods, along with their only hope of escape.

Host Segment Three:

Crow dresses in a blond wig and gauzy leotard and calls himself a Bellarian. Quoth he, “It explains so much about me.” Down in Roman times, Bobo regurgitates a number of items, eventually coming up with a hairpin. He picks the locks on his manacles and ambles off for Brain Guy’s brain, but gets distracted and comes back with bananas instead. He doesn’t remember about the brain until he’s locked himself back into his manacles. Up on the Satellite, Crow realizes he is not actually a Bellarian. He is, in fact, both a gauzy fruitcake and a gullible freak.

Host Segment Four:

Servo has installed railings all over the Satellite, causing Mike to trip at every turn. Mike gives Tom one hour to take them all down again, and then falls over a railing into a freshly dug moat.

Host Segment Five:

Crow has spent hours working out, and displays a tiny metal muscle. Tom has only been working out a few minutes, but has bulked up almost to the point of immobility. Down in Roman times, a random guard delivers Brain Guy’s brain by accident. They bring down Mike to cover their escape. Mike tries to seduce Flavia with the smooth opening line, “Well, if it isn’t Flavia’s daughter.” “What does that even mean?” she replies. Brain Guy pops him back up the satellite before he can vomit from nervousness. Bobo knocks over a lantern while making off with a wheel of fudge, and all of Rome goes up in flames.

Stinger:

Ryder screams like a little girl, takes a deep breath, and jumps out of his floor waxer.

Thoughts:

Not sure why the film needed telepathic sex nuns, but they're easy to look at, so I'm glad they're there.Space Mutiny wasn’t made with much of a budget, or skill, or even talent, but you can tell it was made with enthusiasm. Guns blazing, basements exploding, floor waxers zooming, guys flying over railings to their deaths—this is a movie that doesn’t bother much with exposition. The characters, though largely one-dimensional, play their roles with a bizarre exuberance that that keeps you watching even as you laugh at the low-budget absurdity of it all. Ryder and Leah are fairly standard action heroes, but the supporting cast includes the scenery-chewing Kalgan, the diffidently odd freezer keeper, the Sting-ish Captain, the Martin Short-ish assistant Enforcer, the lobster-armored bodyguard, the fluttery Bellarians, the traitorously gimpy Chief Engineer, and the glittery, Kringle-esque Commander Jansen. The movie has a homemade feel to it, as if someone filmed a Live-Action Role Playing Game from the eighties, spliced in some stolen Battlestar Galactica footage for the exterior shots, and then pressed the demo button on their Casio keyboard in lieu of incidental music. Or, to use another analogy, Space Mutiny is like watching a small town parade, filled with a mish mash of unrelated floats that run the gamut from convertibles filled with local politicians to seventy-nine dachshunds dressed like Elvis. The bands sound awful and the clowns are throwing hard candy at you, but at least they all look like they’re having fun.

For a change, my favorite host segment takes place in Roman times, as Brain Guy tries a variety of ways to bring Mike down to help them. His first attempt sends Mike a bag of goose down, while his second attempt consists of saying, “Everyone says you’re ugly and dumb, and no one likes you,” which makes Mike sad. The third attempt produces a CPA named Mike Down. My favorite movie-related segment has to do with Crow’s attempts to convince himself he is a Bellarian, only to find he has no idea what a Bellarian is supposed to be. Mike’s attempt to seduce Flavia works well. The rest of them didn’t excite me, but didn’t distract me either.

The film segments are exceptional, featuring top-notch commentary all the way through. When Kalgan shoots an engineer at the beginning, Tom says, “Kalgan, blow me away!” Later, when Leah uses the hula-hoop to lift her skirt for Ryder, Tom says, “She’s presenting like a Mandrill.” Near the end, during the climactic floor waxer chase, Tom says, “In their silliest moments, the Three Stooges never sank to this level of indignity.” During the later running, punching, and shooting scenes, all three Satellite crew members blurt out dozens of names for Ryder, such as “Blast HardCheese,” “Chunk IronMeat,” and “Big McLargeHuge.” The goofy film and the excellent commentary make this one of the funniest episodes ever featured on MST3K.