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SPACE RAIDERS 1983, Scorpion,


83m 13s, $19.95 DVD-1, $29.95 BD-A By John Charles


Between box office grosses, foreign territories and ancillary markets like primetime network television, New World Pictures enjoyed some major successes in the 1970s. However, as the next decade rolled around, Roger Cor- man saw the market share for in- dependents starting to dwindle and began a campaign of cost- cutting. While stock footage had certainly been utilized in previous company product (and very enter- tainingly so in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD), it soon became a more standard part of the Corman practice, with some shots recycled in a ludicrous number of produc- tions. Other easily reusable ele- ments like musical scores were trotted out again and again, and Corman also started to remake his own pictures, sometimes less than five years after the original had debuted. The running times of


product also shrank to about 80m, allowing movies to fit on to four reels and in one shipping con- tainer, a further savings. One of the earliest entries in this new strategy, SPACE RAIDERS exists primarily to re-use virtually all of the special effects footage origi- nally created for BATTLE BE- YOND THE STARS (1980) and also makes use of that picture’s score and another one done by James Horner for Corman, HU- MANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980). The plot, meanwhile, is a sci-fi riff on THE CHAMP. The son of affluent parents, young Peter (OVER THE TOP’s David Mendenhall) is playing in one of his father’s warehouses when a gang of space pirates, led by Hawk (BEN CASEY’s Vince Edwards), raids the facility. Dur- ing the laser battle that ensues, Peter stows away aboard the cargo ship the bandits purloin and is discovered long after the craft is too far away to return him home. Hawk and his crew (including Luca Bercovici, Patsy Pease and Thom Christopher)


successfully fend off attack fighters sent by The Company, but find themselves equally at risk from reptilian crime lord Zariatin (Ray Stewart) and a com- puterized “Death Ship” sent by The Company retrieve Peter. Written and directed by regu- lar Corman collaborator Howard R. Cohen (SATURDAY THE 14TH), SPACE RAIDERS has little of the wit or genre awareness that John Sayles brought to BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, but functions well enough for kids. While not heavy on plot, the story- line does have a decent amount of incident and humor to hold younger viewers’ attention and the angel-faced Mendenhall is suffi- ciently appealing for them to re- late to the sense of wonder and adventure Peter experiences. While all of the repurposed special ef- fects give this a bigger look than the producer would normally have accorded such a modest venture, the actual production values are still a step down from most sci-fi TV series of the time (an attempt to duplicate the alien cantina


Ray Stewart as the reptilian crimelord Zariatin in SPACE RAIDERS.


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