It’s like Star Wars, mixed with the Magnificent Seven, and a kung fu movie all in one movie. You’ll laugh. You’ll laugh so hard you may cry, especially when you see that some of the costumes are people wrapped in artificial leaves. All in all I would give it a 3 space faring sail ships out of 5.
Released in 1978 Message From Space, was at the time the most expensive movie ever made in Japan. So calling it a cheap ripoff really doesn’t seem fair since the production company Toei spent the equivalent of 6 million US dollars to make it. Also having Sonny Chiba and Vic Morrow in the cast add some credibility to the movie. They definitely had high ambitions when making the movie, but the execution is where this movie earns it’s so bad it’s good stripes.
The quick summery of the story is your basic “Evil empire takes over a peaceful planet to make it a military fortress which forces the peaceful people to send 8 magical walnuts (called Liabe Seeds) to find 8 heroes to save them” story. The seeds eventually find their way to 2 space hot rodders, their sleaze ball friend, a rich heiress, a drunken ex general, an exiled prince of the evil empire, and a guy that was standing next to the seeds before they left the Andromeda galaxy and came to our galaxy. I guess the seeds wanted to rack up some frequent flyer miles while they were busy saving a race of people. After that we find out the full power of the fully functional military fortress, some space battles, a trench run to blow up a reactor to cause a chain reaction to destroy the fortress, a last second escape, and a happy ever after ending. Doesn’t ring a bell at all does it?
Let’s get to the rundown.
Is there anybody in the cast I know?
Sonny Chiba plays Prince Hans the exiled rightful ruler of the Gavanas (the evil empire). They never try to explain why he is the only Gavanan without steel skin. Maybe that’s why they exiled him? Or Chiba thought the costume was strange enough and skipped the make up chair. Hans decided the reason he was choosen by a seed was so he could make up for the damage the Gavanas Empire has done without him as the ruler and joins the rest of the Seed Bearers. Sonny is really here for the finale fight scenes but his bulky costume holds him back.
Top billing in the US was Vic Morrow, who stared in the movie Combat!, back when they named movies the same way Atari named it’s games. Vic plays General Garuda. We meet the General right when he is about to leave the military in disgrace over the rocket funeral of his robot assistant Beba-1. He leaves the military with his new robot (which he pronounces rowbut more than once) to spend his retirement in the bottle. In fact he doesn’t join the cause till the SECOND time his Liabe seed shows up in his scotch. Afterwards he does clean up fairly well.
So what about the rest of the characters?
Um, well there’s a princess in white.
Some hot shot pilots, their friend, and a spoiled rich girl. When they are told that the trench run to destroy the station is impossible, tell everybody that’s not harder than
bull-eyeing womp rats back home er, threading the needle and tunneling back home.
Some not Storm Troopers, cause they dress in black.
And Mighty Morphin Power Vader. He rules the known galaxy and still his mother tells him he isn’t doing good enough. Really lets you know where his issues come from.
How are the special effects?
I actually like the special effects. They really don’t look convincing compared to modern (or some of the contemporary) movies, but I have a soft spot for things like miniature models and hand painted back drops. The artist did a good job at creating space ships and planet surfaces for the limited budget they had.
Is the poster game strong?
Any food pairings to suggest?
Start with ramen noodles. Later move to something with a cheese sauce or a cheese dip, because that’s the way the movie goes.
Reason to watch the movie?
Pick one of the following.
- You have ever watched a kung fu movie and thought “This would be better with space ships.”
- You have ever watched a Godzilla movie and thought “This would be better if the things being destroyed weren’t all on earth.”
- You have ever watched a sci-fi movie and thought “This would be better is the dialogue didn’t sink up with the actors lips.”
- You realize it’s kind of foolish to be mad at a movie for ripping off Star Wars and the Magnificent 7, when both of those borrowed a lot from earlier movies too.
- You like watching old style special effects before CGI took it all over.
- You have Amazon Prime in the US and have about 2 hours to kill.
Are you going to bore us more with these bad movie rundowns?
You’ve been warned....