“So, you have a homemade brain.” – Space Truckers (Blu-Ray Review)

**** Stars

Stuart Gordon (of Re-Animator fame) has his tongue firmly in his cheek as the director and co-writer of  Space Truckers, which sees John Canyon (Dennis Hopper) as the captain of a space truck delivering square pigs, rookie Mike (Stephen Dorff) and Cindy (Debi Mazar) who take a risky delivery only to run into a dastardly plan and an army of killing machines intent on destroying Earth under the leadership of the evil Captain Macanudo (Charles Dance).

Definitely not a film that takes itself seriously, Space Truckers may not be the best known film from Gordon, but it’s one that science fiction fans should go out of their way to see. A world that isn’t as grim as Star Wars and isn’t as sterile as Star Trek, Gordon has created a film that takes the tropes of Westerns and paints it in pure science fiction, before going leaving it all behind and giving us a wild sci-fi romp through his strange imagination.

Dennis Hopper, Stephen Dorff and Debi Mazar are an entertaining trio. Dennis Hopper is in fine form as the older, weary Canyon, whilst Dorff has the wide eyed youth and charisma that should have shot him to superstardom.  Mazar channels every element of the sultry, independent woman and Charles Dance tears up the scenery as the very close to Nazi bad guy who may have a touch of Tim Curry’s Dr Frankenfurter from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

This brand new restoration may reveal some of the secrets the physical effects, but it also pops with bright, vivid colours.  There’s a delightfully camp look to Space Truckers and it employs a level of cheesiness that wouldn’t look out of place in a TV movie, yet carried above that by a strong cast.  It still, however, retains a degree of charm and humour that will keep all but the most curmudgeonly viewer entertained – lose yourself in the silliness and it’s a fun romp.  

Science fiction fans will get the feel of Red Dwarf, especially in the visual effects, the majority of which are practical and a few of which haven’t aged too well.  The world is colourful and chunky, has a practical feel and the future isn’t too futuristic looking.  It doesn’t try to be Alien, Predator or Terminator, yet there are nods to these and other science fiction greats.

Some things look ridiculous, but still fit within the world of the film.  Gordon manages to walk a fine balance in this film and does it well.  Whilst there’s many a science fiction TV film that would look upon Space Truckers in envy, it’s a cinematic film let down by the budgetary constraints.

Ambition aside, Space Truckers is far from a great film and certainly wasn’t well received at the time of release.  This would have been what Guardians of the Galaxy looked liked if it was shot in the 90s – a small group of unlikely, unwilling heroes the big bad guy to save the universe and the limits of the budget.  That would be until Starship Troopers and The Matrix came along to alter the path of science fiction.

The Blu-Ray release, aside from the restored version of the film, includes interviews with Stuart Gordon, Colin Towns and the Art Director Simon Lamont, giving more insight into the film more than twenty years after its original release.

Dir: Stuart Gordon

Scr: Stuart Gordon, Ted Mann

Starring: Dennis Hopper, Stephen Dorff, Debi Mazar, Charles Dance

Prd: Stuart Gordon

Music:Colin Towns

Country: USA/Ireland

Year: 1996

Runtime: 96 mins

Space Truckers is available on BluRay from 14th May 2018