Space Mutiny (1988)

“Surrender, or be blown to astro-dust!”

Justin’s rating: Nine out of ten reused special effects from the ’70s

Justin’s review: If I ever find myself on an interstellar generational ark and an uprising of the dumbest kind breaks out during the trip, then I can only hope that it will be as entertainingly lethal as the one that’s presented here in Space Mutiny. Made famous by Mystery Science Theater 3000, this film is the most bizarre mishmash of ideas, sets, costume design, and acting choices that you’ll see all year — and it’s well worth seeing, especially if you have a taste for campy failures.

On the long haul colony ship Southern Sun, some people have grown restless waiting for several generations to arrive at their destination and decided to take matters into their own hands by forming an alliance with space pirates and conducting a space mutiny as a roundabout way to get off this non-stop ride. I’m being generous with that summary there, because this premise is nothing but really confusing when you behold it in this major motion picture event of 1988.

At the core of this crisis is a hunky pilot in a tank top who is tasked with running around sets, shooting things with a stick of PVC pipe, and being a meat shield for his love interest (who, it should be noted, easily looks old enough to be his mother — or grandmother). Ostensibly, they’re trying to unravel the mystery of the mutiny, but really they’re just targets for Space Mutiny’s endless swarm of tan jumpsuited goons to fire upon. There’s also the bridge crew, which look concerned but often do little to nothing else, a group of mysterious veiled females who dance around tesla balls, and a handful of grimacing, over-acting bad guys with misplaced hair.

What makes all of this so dang entertaining is how unintentionally bad it is — and how fun it is to laugh at all of Space Mutiny’s failings.

Gah, where to begin? How about the fact that all of the exterior shots of the spaceship and fighter craft are stolen footage from Battlestar Galactica? Or that the commander wears a mumu? Or that the guys are sensibly dressed and yet the girls are sensibly dressed… for a Flashdance video? Or random staff meetings in hallways? Or the worst beard since homeless Santa Claus? Or that there’s a chase scene with two floor polishers? Or dance clubs that are really into hula hoops? Or that a woman who is clearly killed in one scene abruptly returns to her post a few scenes later? Or that the filmmakers were clearly in love with showing off their ’80s BASIC programming displays? Or that every bad guy who is shot either flips over a rail or explodes six feet up in the air?

Honestly, this whole production has the attitude of “eh, we gave it a shot, let’s take a break.” Nowhere is this more apparent than in set design. Some of the sets, like the bridge or conference room, look like sparse but acceptable movie spaceship rooms. But then so much of the action takes place in what is clearly some sort of real-world factory, complete with skylights, windows, and other recognizable detritus. The result is that Space Mutiny feels like its principals are running between two completely separate movies, both of which are poorly made and underfunded.

But if you know anything about our sense of humor around here, it’s that we deeply enjoy the opportunity to point fingers and poke fun at comically failed cinema. Space Mutiny delivers all you could ever want for a bad movie night — and then some.

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