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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Space Opera > Battle Beyond The Stars (1979/Shout! Factory Blu-ray)/Up From The Depths, Demon Of Paradise, Not Of This Earth (1980/87/88/Shout! Factory DVD Set)

Battle Beyond The Stars (1979/Shout! Factory Blu-ray)/Up From The Depths, Demon Of Paradise, Not Of This Earth (1980/87/88/Shout! Factory DVD Set)


Picture: B/C/C/C+     Sound: B/C/C/C     Extras: B+/C/C-/B+     Films: B-/C/C/C+



Recently, we reviewed several Roger Corman discs covering his earlier works, which can be found here.  Our coverage now continues with films he produced through the '70s and '80s.


First we have Battle Beyond The Stars - a film in the mode of Star Wars.  While most people wouldn't be able to call it to mind, I found that it succeeded well beyond my meager expectations.  In spite of it being rated PG, the approach to the space opera it takes skews slightly toward an adult audience.  There's a scantily clad Sybil Danning for starters, and a spaceship that looks uncannily like a pair of boobs on hand as well. I'm sure young boys in the audience loved it, but it probably worked against the film's favor in the long run, as that's not exactly something ticket-buying parents want to be a part of.


The plot is an adaptation of Seven Samurai, with the young Shad having to cross the galaxy rounding up fighters to defend his peaceful planet.  It isn't the be-all-end-all for low budget science fiction, but it isn't a far cry from the '70s take on Buck Rogers or original Battlestar Galactica series in appearance and quality.

Then there's a double bill, featuring two of Corman's excursions into the aquatic monster genre.  Sadly, neither movie does much to keep their head above water, so to speak.  In Up From The Depths, we are provided with one of the least threatening giant fish to ever grace the screen, while Demon of Paradise goes another route by giving us a gill-man that bares a passing resemblance to The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Lastly, we have Jim Wynorski's remake of the 1958 film of the same name, Not Of This Earth.  This is often considered a standout of the 80's cycle of horror and sci-fi remakes.  Some of the more popular notables in this category include David Cronenberg's The Fly and John Carpenter's The Thing, and while Not Of This Earth is still a good film, it is admittedly of a lesser caliber than these classic examples. This film is more at home with films like Tobe Hooper's take on Invaders From Mars, which despite some dissenting opinion is still not bad company to keep.


Arthur Roberts stars as a man who isn't exactly from around here - a space vampire who requires a steady supply of blood to survive.  He hires a young nurse, played by Traci Lords, who aids him with the transfusions of blood he receives.  She, along with the spaceman's new chauffeur later discover their employer's otherworldly origins and seek to put an end to his plan.


Extras on Battle Beyond the Stars and Not of This Earth are plentiful, and provide more information on the films than fans likely thought there was to give.  Each film receives two excellent commentary tracks, a bounty of interviews with cast and crew, as well as trailer galleries.  Strangely enough, with Up From The Depths there is no mention of the making-of featurette on the box art, and it is pretty much buried on the menus as well.  This is a surprise, as it is actually quite an enjoyable watch, if not with the longest runtime.  Both it and Demon of Paradise have trailers, but little else.


Battle Beyond The Stars is the lone Blu-ray of the bunch, and it looks pretty spectacular for a film of this vintage.  It is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and has a newly mixed 5.1 soundtrack in DTS-HD.  The rest of the films are all in anamorphic widescreen as well, with aspect ratios of 1.78:1.  These are all presented in 2.0 Dolby, and there's nothing particularly good or bad in their presentation.


Movies like these are akin to the comfort food of cinema, and despite the occasional lack of quality in these films, they're still sure to be must-sees for bad movie junkies.  I highly recommend checking any of them out.



-   David Milchick


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