Wortsie’s Review – Caroline Munro Double-Bill

Paul Worts - At The Earth's Core

Paul poses with a fossilised extra from ‘At The Earth’s Core’

In honour of our very special guest Caroline Munro, The Misty Moon Movie Club will plunge you deep into the bowels of the Earth and shoot you at warp speed into outer-space – all in one breathtakingly fabulous evening. Rudimentary pick-axes and space suits at the ready movie lovers…

At the Earth’s Core

“This can’t be the Rhondda Valley!”

Madly eccentric scientist ‘Doctor Abner Perry’ (Peter Cushing) has invented a large revolutionary drilling machine entitled “The Iron Mole”. Accompanied by his “worst student” ‘David Innes’ (Doug McClure), they set off to test the drill by boring into the Welsh Hills. Quicker than you can say ‘Thunderbirds are go!’ our intrepid duo promptly lose control of the drill (and consciousness) whilst The Iron Mole proceeds with implausible speed to bury straight down towards the earth’s core. (Just as well really, otherwise the film would’ve been a real bore). Sorry. Upon awaking, they find themselves in a strange world ruled by giant prehistoric parrot-like birds that have mesmeric powers and telepathy. (No, this isn’t a Discovery Channel documentary). These not-so-pretty-pollys (The Majars) control an army of pig-men (The Sagaths) who in turn keep their normal-looking human slaves (including ‘Dia’ – Caroline Munro) in erm, well slavery, forcing them to do general slave-like duties involving controlling the surrounding lava flows and stuff whilst sounding like frogs gargling mouthwash.

I won’t give away much more of the frankly barmy plot, but I feel I must just warn you to watch out for ‘Hoojah’ (“The sly one”) – he’s real trouble, and ‘Jubal’ (“The ugly one”) – he’s really ugly. Oh yes, and shout hurrah for ‘Ra’ – he’s really brave.

Peter Cushing is on (over the) top form brandishing his trusted umbrella whilst uttering such classic lines as:   “You can’t mesmerise me – I’m British!” and: “They’re so excitable – like all foreigners”. Doug McClure’s ‘David’ gamely battles various men-in-rubber-suit-monsters; a man-eating plant bearing a remarkable resemblance to the singing plant in Frank Oz’s 1986 remake of Little Shop of Horrors; and gets the somewhat less than arduous task of occasionally kissing the beautiful ‘Dia’. Incidentally, there’s never any danger of the audience forgetting the name of Doug McClure’s character as “David!” is uttered 66 times during the film!

Caroline Munro is, as you would naturally expect, absolutely jaw-droppingly, sweat glisteningly gorgeous as Dia SPOLIER ALERT (or rather Princess Dia). And even though she disappears for a fair chunk of the film, she still manages to get almost flame-grilled by a giant fire-breathing toad; seized by the talons (painful) of a flying Majar; kidnapped by ‘Hoojah’ (told you to watch out for him); married off to ‘Jubal’ (when she could do so much better); publicly shamed by “David!”; and accidentally man-handled by Peter Cushing! In the midst of all this hugely enjoyable rubber monster hokum, Caroline transcends the b-movie material and manages to invest her character with more depth and believability than the script deserves.

Star Crash

“Go for hyperspace!”

Star Crash has often been labelled a Star Wars rip-off. That’s not entirely fair. The original script, written several years before George Lucas first dabbled in a galaxy far far away, was intended to be a concept more like ‘Sinbad on Mars’, according to its Italian director Luigi Cozzi.  It is however fair to say it would probably never have seen the light of day had it not been for the commercial success of Star Wars. Luigi Cozzi (renamed Lewis Coates on the poster and credits for US audiences), was given the green light on the condition that he incorporated elements of Star Wars into the script – hence the sudden introduction of a lightsaber for example, but the director’s original intentions are still there in glorious Technicolor for all to see.

Caroline Munro plays ‘Stella Star’, an impossibly sexy high-kicking space pirate who quite frankly makes Princess Leia look more like a nun. Caroline spends the majority of the film in a black leather bikini and thigh-high boots ensemble – occasionally covered over by a see-through rain mac resembling a giant prophylactic – and is more stunning than any phaser or rifle-ray could possibly be.

This affectionately directed film is bursting with references and homage’s to other classic sci-fi films and is more fun to watch than the recent three ‘Star Wars’ prequels put together. Its hokey special effects combined with stilted B movie dialogue is played against a luscious score from none other than James Bond maestro John Barry. In fact, to list all the films guilty pleasures would probably take several pages, so here’s a very brief selection of just some of the ‘highlights’ which await you when you experience the true epicness that is Star Crash.

  1. It’s got a robot called ‘Elle’ whose dubbed voice sounds more like Mater the rusty pick-up truck from Pixar’s  Cars.
  2. It’s got Joe Spinell (pre-Maniac) playing the evil baddie Count Zarth Arn with demented eyes and a sweeping Dracula-like cape.
  3. It’s got Christopher Plummer desperately trying to deliver his lines as The Emperor without bursting into laughter. (Perhaps it’s the thought that his son ‘Simon’ is played by David Hasselhoff).
  4. It’s got Neanderthal men who look like stunt doubles for Catweazle.
  5. It’s got a ships computer that resembles a giant cheesy puff.

I could go on, but really you must experience the inter-galactic delight that is Star Crash for yourself. A truly ‘Stella’ time is guaranteed.

(P.S. Caroline’s voice in the English version was dubbed by the actress Candy Clark, known to genre fans the world over for numerous roles in such films as the 80’s remake of The Blob, Cat’s Eye, Amityville 3D, Buffy the Vampire Slayer etc.)

Paul Worts

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