Thursday, May 13, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Space Truckers (1996)


Watched:  05/11/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First (complete viewing)
Decade:  oh, so 1990's
Director:  Stuart Gordon

Way back around 2001 or 2002, one day I noticed a movie called Space Truckers (1996) was showing on HBO.  If you've been hanging around this blog since 2003, then you know:  I immediately tuned over and caught something like 30 minutes of it.

I was shocked to see name actors Stephen Dorff, Dennis Hopper and Debi Mazar in what appeared to be a mid-budget sci-fi comedy that I'd never heard of, galivanting around space in a long-haul space-truck.

I'm gonna be real honest with you people, because I think I can trust you.  Upon review of this film at length, I think I mostly just remembered this was the most Debi Mazar I'd ever seen in a film, and that seemed like a good idea and likely colored my reaction.  Throw in the conceit that Dennis Hopper was playing a crusty space trucker, and I was sold.  

It is not, however, very good.  And it brings a lot of the vices of the late 80's and 90's in film right to the fore, teetering on working as an exploitation film.  And part of me thinks they should have lowered the budget and gone right over that cliff, it would have then at least felt more pure.  Instead what you get is a film that's just always on the verge of being at least interesting but instead just feels crude.

What's super weird about this movie is that it also stars Charles Dance, an actor whom genre movie fans love, but who we're constantly insisting "he's so much better than this material".  And yet, here he is with a robotic dick in Space Truckers.   But, honestly, he's so much better than this material.

Also, look for George Wendt as a crusty operations manager for a space-cargo-hauling company, Shane Rimmer as a maybe bad-guy, Vernon Wells as "Mr. Cut", and Barbara Crampton as Carol.  

After way too much set-up, our trucker teams up with Debi Mazar and Stephen Dorff to carry a mysterious cargo back to Earth from near Jupiter, I think, and it turns out it's a bunch of kill-bots that an evil force is going to use to conquer Earth.  

Curiously, the robots were designed by Hajime Soroyana, the artist who created "Sexy Robot" back in the 1980's.  (Yes, of course I am well aware of Sexy Robot, because for some reason Bookstop always categorized his coffee table collections in the Sci-Fi section in the late 1980's).    

The movie looks surprisingly expensive, but then lit as if by the same guys who put overheads in the last five office buildings I've worked in.  Everything is bright and shadow-free.  Light is a bit unmotivated, but they want to make sure you can see the very expensive sets they built - and they are large, serious sci-fi sets from the early-CGI-era when sets were still a thing.

Anyway - the movie is meant to be a bit of a laugh, some light, schlocky entertainment - but it's never exactly funny.  It's more "mildly amusing" until you get to some very dated jokes.  

Is it weird my favorite bit in the movie happens in the first five minutes when we see the square pigs?

But, hey, it DOES have a lot of Debi Mazar, so there's some bonus points there.


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