★★★ Space Truckers doesn’t try to be anything more than a fun B-Movie that Roger Corman would approve of, and on that level, it succeeds gloriously.
Almost two decades before we fell in love with a band of lovable space a-holes, director Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, Robot Jox) helmed Space Truckers. Armed with a newly restored version of the movie, Space Truckers is now on 4K Blu-ray for the first time.
Dennis Hopper stars as Johnny Canyon, one of the last independent space truckers who would have been right at home operating a big rig on Earth back in the 70s. Johnny scratches a living transporting square pigs and sex dolls (among other things), keen to stay off the grid, Johnny is forced to take shipments from less than reputable clients. Johnny’s latest shady cargo has potentially catastrophic consequences for Earth, and it’s up to him and his two unlikely passengers to save the day. Time hasn’t been kind to Space Truckers, the restoration has done wonders, but those 22-year-old special effects (that were ropey by 1996’s standards) haven’t aged well. Be that as it may, Space Truckers is a knowing B-movie and twenty years on, it wouldn’t look out of place on the Mystery Science Theatre revival on Netflix.
I feel that Stuart Gordon has made it his career goal to make movies that will be more appreciated years after their release. While he found success as a producer (Honey I Shrunk The Kids), his directorial efforts have always taken time to find an audience. Giant robot fighting movie Robot Jox was ignored on release in 1989, but the likes of Transformers and Pacific Rim helped revive interest.
Stephen Dorf does a fantastic job to keep a straight face during dialogue such as “leave her alone you half-electric asshole”, for context he’s insulting Charles Dance’s cyborg big bad. I’ve long believed that well-respected actors love nothing more than hamming it up once in a while. The Underworld franchise is a great example of B-material attracting A-list talent like Michael Sheen, Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, Derek Jacobi, Bill Nighy, and wouldn’t you know it, one Charles Dance. Charles Dance brings the ham and cheese as the villainous Macanudo, although be warned, you do get to see more of the mechanised Dance than you might have expected.
Space Truckers is out now on Blu-ray