Space Mutiny (also known as Mutiny in Space) is a 1988 South African science-fiction action film about a mutiny aboard the spaceship known as the Southern Sun.
The Southern Sun is a spacefaring vessel that contains a large number of people whose mission is to colonize a new world. Its voyage has lasted generations, so many of its inhabitants have been born and will die without ever setting foot on solid ground. This does not please the antagonist, Elijah Kalgan, who conspires with the pirates infesting the nearby Corona Borealis system and the ship’s Chief Engineer MacPhearson. Kalgan hatches a plot to disrupt the Southern Sun’s navigation systems and use the Enforcers, the ship’s police force, to hijack the ship and direct it towards this system. At this point, the inhabitants of the Southern Sun will have no choice but to accept his "generosity".
Kalgan sabotages a key part of the ship just as an important professor's shuttle is on a landing trajectory. The loss of guidance control causes the ship to explode. The shuttle's pilot, Dave Ryder, is able to escape, but the professor dies in the explosion. This sabotage seals off the flight deck for a number of weeks, which gives Kalgan the opportunity to attempt to wrest control. With the Enforcers in his hand, and with the flight deck out of commission, he holds the entire population of the Southern Sun hostage. Commander Jansen and Captain Devers enlist Ryder’s assistance, aided begrudgingly by Jansen’s daughter Dr. Lea Jansen, to regain control of the ship.
- Reb Brown as Dave Ryder
- John Phillip Law as Flight Commander Elijah Kalgan
- Cameron Mitchell as Commander Alex Jansen
- Cisse Cameron as Dr. Lea Jansen
- James Ryan as Chief Engineer MacPhearson
- Graham Clark as Captain Scott Devers
- Billy Second as Lieutenant Lemont
- Gary D. Sweeney as Ranger
The director of Space Mutiny has stated on his website that he was called away from set due to a death in the family before filming began, and delegated directing duties to the assistant director. Contractually he was apparently unable to get an Allen Smithee credit. Some commentators began to compile rather large lists of continuity errors. The engineering areas of the ship were filmed in an industrial building with un-futuristic brick walls, windows and concrete floors, while the bridge looks remarkably like a vintage-1980s corporate office (non-shag, neutral carpeting; white particleboard desks; computers with 16-color ANSI displays, including one with a 5¼ inch floppy disk drive as an ID card reader). Kalgan’s "torture chamber" set features contemporary computer keyboards inexplicably mounted on the walls. The characters tend to wear the silver or white lamé outfits that were common to science fiction/futurist productions of the time, while many of the female characters wear spandex leotards.
The film's notable flaws provided substantial material for later spoofing on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and Eccentric Cinema described it as "quite possibly the worst science fiction/space adventure film made in English". The engineering deck interiors include several shots of windows, which show sky beyond. In one scene, the camera passes by a bridge officer, Lt. Lemont, working at her computer console as an extra despite having been killed in the previous scene. One chase scene involves slow-moving Enforcer vehicles, strongly resembling bowling-alley floor polishers, and the collision of two of these vehicles produces an extraordinary explosion for such small craft. The scene is further undermined by the intense sunlight streaming into the corridor.
John Phillip Law, who appeared in this movie as the villain Elijah Kalgan, also starred in the 1968 Italian film Diabolik (coincidentally, Diabolik was also featured [as the series finale] on Mystery Science Theater 3000) . Cameron Mitchell played Commander Jansen, along with his daughter Camille Mitchell, who provided the voice for Jennara, the lead Bellarian; and his son Chip Mitchell played Blake, a mustachioed member of Kalgan’s crew.
The song that plays over the end credits, "Edge of a Dream", is performed by Steven McClintock.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Edit
Nine years after its initial release, Space Mutiny was lampooned in a November 1997 episode of movie-mocking television comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). The movie’s editing flaws, stilted dialog, and poor production lent itself well to the MST3K treatment, and it has repeatedly proved to be one of the most popular episodes, released as part of the MST3K DVD Collection, Vol. 4 from Rhino Entertainment.
Many of the scenes involving characters being thrown to their deaths over guardrails in the interior were coined as "railing kills" by Mike and the Bots, and inspired Tom Servo to install railings all over the Satellite of Love. Mike and the Bots also mock the fact that a character killed on screen shows up prominently as an extra in later scenes. Throughout the film, the appearances of the characters were sources of ridicule: Dave Ryder, the muscular protagonist, is referred to by many ridiculous names, including but not limited to, "Slab Bulkhead", "Fridge Largemeat", "Big McLarge Huge", "Stomp Beefknob", and "Punt Speedchunk"; Ryder's love interest, Lea Jansen, who in the movie appears to be much older than him despite being 6 years younger, is referred to as Lea's father(Commander Jansen)'s "grandmadaughter"; Commander Jansen is compared to Santa Claus and to God, due to his white hair and beard, while Captain Devers is compared to Sting and Kalgan is noted for his resemblance to Pat Riley. Kalgan receives additional mockery for the similarity of his name to the Calgon home maintenance brand.
Some ten minutes of footage were cut from Space Mutiny for its use on MST3K. Much of the edited footage featured space battle scenes taken from the original television series of Battlestar Galactica. The version of the film featured in the episode was, in essence, consistent with the full version; the discontinuities apparent in the episode were all present in the 1988 film. Mike Nelson and the robots did not comment on the reused Battlestar Galactica footage. Series writer Paul Chaplin acknowledged this omission, but did not provide an explanation.
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