Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983) – reviewed by George

For a space fantasy film this has an unusual cast: Peter Strauss, who played the soft brother in Rich Man, Poor Man, Molly Ringwald, from many teen movies, Ernie Hudson, from Ghostbusters I and II, and Andrea Marcovicci from TV cop shows like Mannix, Magnum, Kojak, Baretta, and Hill Street Blues. She even played “Anne Hathaway” on the  Murder She Wrote episode called “The Way to Dusty Death”.
Here Peter is Wolff, a strong Spacehunter (which correlates with Bounty Hunter), Molly is Niki, a spacey juvenile delinquent, Ernie is Washington, another Spacehunter, and Andrea is Chalmers, Wolff’s second in command (they are the only two on their ship, so she could hardly be third) and lover. The unsurprising casting is using Michael Ironside as the villain Overdog.
Also unusual for space fantasy is the movie’s strong interest in sex slavery. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The movie begins with a malfunction on a spaceship for tourists. It’s serious, and the ship must be evacuated. The crew seems out of control: three nubile young tourists (played by Deborah Pratt, Aleisa Shirley, and Cali Timmins) end up in an escape pod without a crew person to help them. They crash-land on a planet with a “normal” area, where the girls are threatened by the inhabitants, and a Forbidden area, where everyone is threatened by Overdog. Ironside’s makeup is great – he looks like a skull with metal teeth.
Wolff and Chalmers receive the distress call and take off to collect some reward money, but what they find on the planet pretty much makes them wish they hadn’t bothered. There’s Niki, in danger and undependable (at least for a while), and Wolff feels that she can’t be left behind. They meet former friend and current rival Washington, also responding to the call, and track the girls, who have been captured by Overdog’s underlings (I do admire the sound of that!), into the Forbidden Zone.
A really good series of set pieces follows as our heroes (and Niki) set out on the girls’ trail: dangerous fatties, various monsters, Overdog’s digs which feature a murderous maze, and so on. For all the desert beauty of the exteriors, the film made me feel like taking off my shirt and drinking iced tea – it seems that hot.
The very fine music score is by the great Elmer Bernstein, and the movie was directed by Lamont Johnson.
Thanks, Andy!

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