Saturday, 6 September 2014

Sci-Fi September: Space Truckers (1996)

Ahem, any fans of Stuart Gordon may also like to check out this lengthy interview HERE.

From the wonderfully demented mind of Stuart Gordon comes this wonderfully demented sci-fi film, boosted by a great cast and a few fun ideas that help to overcome the relatively low budget and occasional-not-so-special effects. The emphasis here is on entertainment rather than any final polishing, and that's just fine with me.

Dennis Hopper plays John Canyon, a space trucker with a fairly reliable, albeit slow, rig. He's a bit behind schedule when he drops off a load of square pigs (for your square meals) and ends up arguing over his fee due to him from company man Keller (George Wendt). One fight later, John ends up having to get away in a hurry. He's joined by the lovely Cindy (Debi Mazar) and a lad who has just passed his test for the trucking life, Mike Pucci (Stephen Dorff). He also has a new cargo, which is supposed to be a whole load of sex dolls . . . . . . . . . . but that's highly doubtful, considering the built-in security protecting it. And did I mention that Charles Dance plays a semi-cyborg psychopath?

Written by Ted Mann, adapting a story that he and director Gordon came up with, Space Truckers is a loving mix of old sci-fi romps - the kind of stuff with bright colours and killer robots - and the blue collar approach to a life spent in space that came along in the 1970s (most notably, I guess, in Alien).

Hopper is great in the lead role, grumpy and set in his ways but not without the sense to see what's right under his nose at times, while Dorff is enjoyable wide-eyed and innocent, and Mazar is tough and cute. Dance is a semi-cyborg psychopath, which I may have already mentioned, and I'll be damned if I didn't love seeing every minute of his over the top performance. Other names in the cast include Sandra Dickinson, Vernon Wells, and Mr. Wendt. Everyone seems to be having a blast, which transfers to the audience.

Gordon directs with his usual steady hand. I'm a fan of the man, having seen how he can make the most of every dollar on every movie that he makes, and this is even more interesting to watch when placed in amongst his filmography. In a way, it seems far removed from most of his other movies (although he has, of course, done relatively straight sci-fi with Fortress and Robot Jox), but it's also absolutely in line with the sensibilities shown in almost everything that he's done. There are some dark moments, there's plenty of humour, and Barbara Crampton graces the film with her lovely presence, in a brief cameo role. There are deadly robo-aliens and other trappings of the genre, of course, but it's almost impressive to see just how far Gordon can shape the material to his own ends.

I'm not sure if others will enjoy this movie as much as I did, but I hope that some people at least give it a viewing. It's certainly not dull, even if you only decide to watch it for that Charles Dance performance.


Price-wise, Region 2 is the way to go -

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