Review: ‘Starslyderz’

The accumulated snarky-satiric musings of every American ex-teen raised on "Star Trek," "Star Wars," "Transformers" and fantasy videogames have birthed "Starslyderz," perhaps the cheesiest -- and giddiest -- sci-fi spoof since 1980's "Flash Gordon." Cult status is assured, though commercial prospects are a wild card.

The accumulated snarky-satiric musings of every American ex-teen raised on “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” “Transformers” and fantasy videogames have birthed “Starslyderz,” perhaps the cheesiest — and giddiest — sci-fi spoof since 1980’s “Flash Gordon” (or 1974’s “Flesh Gordon,” for that matter). Randy, ridiculous futuristic adventure features nonstop low-end f/x and pop culture in-jokes that will resound most among those as young as helmer Garrin Vincent and his collaborators. But even over-30s will recognize “Starslyderz” as an impressive home-made camp epic that blows away lame Troma-style efforts. Cult status is assured, though commercial prospects are a wild card.

Defending the mostly monetary interests of the United Planets of America is “elite crime fighting force” Starslyderz, whose commander is suave Taylor (Brandon Jones). He’s as much Captain Jerk as Captain Kirk, with his selfishness likely to disrupt a noble mission at any moment. (When one work vs. play conflict arises, he announces “Right now, booty is my duty!”)

Taylor and his crew are ordered to rescue the president’s kidnapped daughter from an opposing team of evildoers including Taylor’s green-skinned personal nemesis Mortikai (Garrin Hajeian), plus heavy-metal Brit twins Shandar and Zandor (both played by John Zuckerman). Somehow all end up captives on Planet Zoopy, where they are forced to fight each other to the death gladiator-style before an audience of bloodthirsty puppets and stuffed animals.

Everything from TV commercials and “Biography” to anime and vintage vidgames gets parodied. There are production numbers, too, showcasing songs by band Estradasphere.

Juvenile bad-taste humor occasionally falls flat, but the frantic pace, funny performances, crudely colorful CGI and gleefully tacky costume/set/creature designs make for inspired silliness. Actual shooting of live actors took nine days, post-production four years, utilizing gratis services of more than 150 f/x and miscellaneous artists, many drafted via Craigslist. While purportedly just $25,000 in hard cash (or rather credit card debt) was spent overall, pic looks and sounds like a million bucks — even 1.25 million.

Starslyderz

Production

A Funny Farm Films production. Produced by Mike Budde. Executive producers, Kevin Bayuk, Mike Heilmann, John Zuckermann Directed, written by Garrin Vincent.

Crew

Camera (color, mini DV-to-DigiBeta), Mike Budde; editor, Budde, Vincent; music, Tim Smolens, Estradasphere; production designer, KT Olson; sound, David Doran; puppets, Jody "Madball" Gelbart. Reviewed at Another Hole in the Head, San Francisco, June 10, 2006. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Jones, Magee Kundrat, Michael Heilmann, Garrin Hajeian, Pat Payne, Nathan Oliver, John Zuckerman, Brian Whitaker, Mitch Webb, Jacqueline Van Biene, Miguel Bvudenborg, Kevin Jones, Christopher W. Jones.
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