Lone Wolf Sullivan is a writer, songwriter, and studio musician.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Space Truckers (1996)

The movie begins in the year 2196 on the farside outpost of one of Neptune's moons, Triton. E.G. Saggs (Shane Rimmer), the capitalist boss of a large multi-planetary corporation, and evil scientist Dr. Nabel (Charles Dance) have created a cyborg warrior that is virtually unstoppable. But Saggs betrays Nabel and orders one of his warriors to kill him. Dr. Nabel rebuilds himself later and becomes Captain Macanudo.

John Canyon (Dennis Hopper) is one of the last independent space transport entrepreneurs and his outdated Pachiderm 2000 space ship looks like a big truck. He is competing against huge mega-corporations, and is hassled by high-tech interference from corrupt bosses. After Canyon delivers a cargo of pigs, genetically engineered to be square and stackable for more efficient shipping, he finds his profits siphoned off by crooked labor boss Keller (George Wendt). He initially refuses to join "The Company", an outfit controlling intergalactic trucking, but is unable to resist when the pay is five times the going rate. Times are tough and if Canyon wants to keep his space vessel, he mustn't be too choosy when it comes to clients or too inquisitive about the nature of cargo.

He visits a space station populated by space truck drivers who listen to country & western music. After an argument turns into a bar brawl, Canyon agrees to take a suspicious cargo and deliver it to Earth without questions being asked. Supposedly he is transporting sex toys. He also takes two new crew members: young rookie pilot Mike Pucci (Stephen Dorff) and waitress Cindy (Debi Mazar), who will accept his marriage proposal if he takes her to Earth to visit her sick mother. Canyon and his new-found partners narrowly escape the station, and along the way Mike and Cindy fall for each other. Soon all three of them realize that the cargo happens to be a small army of deadly killer robots.

The trio goes through an asteroid belt, their ship gets hot and they land in big trouble when swallowed by a pirate ship led by Captain Macanudo, the grotesquely disfigured former scientist Dr. Nabel who wants to have a good time and use robots for world conquest. Canyon's cargo of army androids were stolen from Macanudo by E.J. Saggs--who's plotting an android takeover of Earth. Macanudo's funniest scene, and one of the best in the film, comes when he attempts to activate his power-driven private parts to have sex with the unwilling Cindy. He has to get it started like a gas mower, only he has trouble with the pull cord.

Macanudo: I rebuilt my mind!
Cindy: So, you have a homemade brain.

Former National Lampoon editor Ted Mann, who scripted this $27 million science-fiction comedy, calls it "the first outer-space road movie." According to Mann, the film has "no scientists, no techies, none of the usual polished, sanitary environments we're used to in our space films. Space is like anywhere else -- the people who are there are underpaid and poorly regarded." Filmed at Ardmore Studios, County Wicklow in Ireland, this funny sci-fi adventure film is a wild and colorful ride. Bright and brash, it has interesting cheesy special effects and is a highly entertaining dystopian spoof.

SPACE TRUCKERS borrows from every major sci-fi epic of the past two decades, but it does so with style. It was originally made for cable television and is basically an action packed high seas adventure set in outer space that moves along nicely without ever becoming too challenging. However, many viewers and critics do not like it. One commented, "If you like awful films this will have you shaking your head in disbelief with your mouth wide open in complete amazement that a film this bad could ever have been made. This really is rubbish, no don't even be tempted to rent it for cringe factor, it's just very, very sad." Lone Wolf disagrees. I enoy it very much, and have watched it many times.

The cast also includes: Seamus Flavin (Chopper 4), Jason O'Mara (Chopper 3), Vernon Wells (Mr. Cutt), Sandra Dickinson (Bitchin' Betty), Tim Loane (Trooper Officer), Ian Beattie (Trooper), Olwen Fouéré (Building Commander), Roger Gregg (Tank Patrol), Dennis Akayama (Tech Leader), Graeme Wilkinson (Jackie), and Sean Lawlor (Mel). Colin Towns composed the original music score. Ted Mann wrote the screenplay from a story he wrote with Stuart Gordon, who also directed.

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