Sunday, August 27, 2023

Message From Space (1978)

Message From Space is a one of a kind. Even by the standards of the weird and wonderful films coming out of Japan in the 1970’s it's a huge ball of WTF. A wild and out there riff on Star Wars it stands as film that you kind of can’t help but love.

The plot of the film has the peaceful Jillucia attacked by the evil Gavanas and threatened with annihilation. The king of Jillucia sends out eight Liabe holy seeds into space to find the eight heroes who can defeat their enemy. He then sends his daughter in a space galleon to collect the heroes and bring them back for battle.

Riffing on more than Star Wars, the film steals liberally from things like Captain Harlock, Samurai films, the various TV series like Ultraman, spaghetti westerns and pretty much everything else under the sun. The characters are of a type more than real people but that’s okay because they are all handled by expert actors including Vic Morrow in a kind of Clint Eastwood riff. The battles are huge scale affairs that are (now) refreshingly free of computer generated images.

This is a grand popcorn film that entertains simply because it is just going for it. It actually believes all the nonsense its putting up on screen and after a while we do too.

I know when the film came out I was one of the few people who actually liked it. So many people I knew hated the film and its mash up of everything. Recently I’ve been running into people who are rediscovering the film and falling in love because it somehow connects to their inner geek. In a weird way this film is kind of like what Krull tried to do but failed because while Krull reset classic fantasy tropes in a pseudo scifi setting they didn’t go far enough and they didn’t keep the pace steady (Krull has long travel sequences). Message just keeps going and going to one crazy thing to the next. You can’t breathe.

When I put Message on recently I initially grumbled at how it had dated and how cheesy was. Fifteen minutes in I had come around and was just enjoying the madness.

I love the film a great deal.

Is it a great film?

Probably not in any conventional sense, but in a pure entertainment, go somewhere else for two hours sort of way- its damn near perfect.

Highly recommended.

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