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  Space Truckers Keep On Spacin'?
Year: 1996
Director: Stuart Gordon
Stars: Dennis Hopper, Stephen Dorff, Debi Mazar, George Wendt, Charles Dance, Vernon Wells, Barbara Crampton, Shane Rimmer, Sandra Dickinson, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Sean Lawlor
Genre: Comedy, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: It is the future, and on the moon of Triton danger is brewing when a collection of troops are conducting an exercise which sees them waiting behind a large, reinforced door for some menace or other to arrive. The leader of his expedition is military mind E.J. Scaggs (Shane Rimmer), and he is consulting with top scientist Nabel (Charles Dance) who has designed the menace in question. So when it breaks through the door to reveal itself to be an unstoppable robot, and lays waste to the troops, only stopping when Nabel presses a button, it's clear there is trouble for Planet Earth afoot.

The list of Irish science fiction movies is not a long one, but that's what Space Truckers was, sure there was American and British money involved but this was filmed in Ireland with Irish talent, therefore something they could be proud to call their own. Except not everyone saw it that way, and soon after a short cinema release the production was relegated to bargain bin DVDs and late night TV slots, with the general reaction towards it being less "What fun!" and more "What is this crap?!" A pity if you were a fan of the sort of B movie director Stuart Gordon was alluding to, the sort that had been made by the Roger Corman or the Italians about twenty years before.

So best not to listen to the naysayers and acknowledge that yes, Space Truckers had its problems, but it wished to be nothing but good, solid pulp sci-fi, something its brightly coloured appearance and nods towards spoofery were only too clear about. If anything, the more overt jokes were rather a stumbling block, because at other stages Gordon looked to be unsure whether he wanted the audience to take the whole affair seriously or not, but if you didn't then you'd likely find more to enjoy. Not quite in the Flash Gordon mould, then (original thirties version, that was), but more in the vein of a cheap and cheerful Star Wars cash in from the late seventies or early eighties.

As far as the plot went, the truckers themselves were led by Dennis Hopper as John Canyon, who was a contemporary figure transplanted a couple of centuries into the future, essentially a reliable working man who in 1996 would be driving pigs to market, but here was piloting square pigs (for easier storage) to the fast food factories. He hits a snag when he cannot get paid for this latest delivery (by boss George Wendt, who meets a finale of Goldfinger type fate), which means his dreams of taking waitress Cindy (Debi Mazar, who spends most of the film dressed - or undressed - in her underwear) back to Earth to visit her ailing mother are fast evaporating if he's not able to afford the trip.

Add in Stephen Dorff (also underwear-clad for much of the time) as rival trucking student Mike Pucci and you had a love triangle, with Cindy pulled between the older man who is doing her a massive favour, and the younger man who she is more attracted to. Although once the space station they are in springs a leak, they have to hightail it out of there on Canyon's ship, which he has agreed to carry a very expensive cargo with, which is fine until you cotton on to the fact that it's a whole army of those killer robots we saw at the beginning of the film which he is transporting to Earth for invasion purposes. But what of Charles Dance? In a career-defining role - well, maybe not, but since he is transformed into a cyborg who at one point has to try and start his malfunctioning manhood as if it were a lawnmower, then it was apparent Mr Dance was unembarrassable. Elsewhere, the main cast spent too much time in chains, but there was a pleasing air (in a vacuum) to Space Truckers thanks to doing well in modest ambitions. Music by Colin Towns.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Stuart Gordon  (1947 - 2020)

American director of horror and sci-fi, who made his debut in 1985 with Re-Animator, following 15 years working in theatre in Chicago. This HP Lovecraft adaptation was a spectacular mix of chills, black comedy and inventive splatter, but while it still remains his best film, the likes of From Beyond, Dolls, The Pit and the Pendulum, Space Truckers and Dagon do have their moments. He followed these with the David Mamet adaptation Edmond and true crime-inspired Stuck. Gordon also wrote the story for the box office smash Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

 
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