Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
The success of Star Wars led to a surplus of B-rated knock-offs in the 1980s. The overabundance of one type of film will inevitably lead to a few that will fall behind and be forgotten over time. One of these films is Battle Beyond the Stars. Although it is not perfect, it is among the best on the list. It must be for a reason that these ideas have not held up or why they have not been accepted into popular culture. Yet, the case for revisiting them isn’t as hard as it sounds.
To give it a one-liner, it is Seven Samurai in space. A planet is in danger and needs to be protected. Assembling six other characters to help them defend against this evil is then assigned to the protagonist.
The film is directed by David Carradine. Winged serpents have been spotted running amok in the skies above and preying on rooftop victims. Its name is Q. This charming monster flick features some surprisingly horrifying visual imagery. As a satire with a very pessimistic view of politics, bureaucracy, greed, and ego-driven motives, it is fascinating to watch the film unfold. Quinn is unlike most protagonists of films of this kind; he is incredibly intriguing. His character takes a different route than most. This is a fresh take on the usual monster movie. There is a real sense of reality to the characters.
As a police officer on the case, David Caradine is able to investigate how the creature got there. He portrays a cop who is sick of the world he lives in throughout the film. No one agrees with him because of his past and his surroundings.
A Boy and His Dog (1975)
There is a forgotten post-apocalyptic science fiction film, A Boy and His Dog, that is not as well known as it should be. The world-building is superb, and the story is unique and surreal as well. It follows Vic, a boy, and his dog, Blood. Those who scrounge in this post-apocalyptic world have become scavengers long since society collapsed. The world is a wasteland, filled with sand and few remnants of the world before it. The main character travels with his dog, with whom he communicates inexplicably through telepathy. Dogs have personalities, voices, and thoughts of their own. The mastermind behind the duo provides some witty comments.
Some people will board the ship and others will not. That’s the plot. The story centers around Vic’s lustful search for love again. Vic is not portrayed as a good person, nor does he seem to possess excellent morals. A man who lives in a world without societal order. He wants a woman, no matter the cost. A lot of people will be turned off by this. The viewer is simply observing him as a vessel to witness this awful future; his character is supposed to be evil.
It is the shortest film on the list, yet it offers the most effective world-building in only a few seconds. Worldbuilding is perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of science fiction, fleshing out the small details that make the story much more interesting. This is what Trancers is all about.
In the year 2257, Jack Deth is an Angel city trooper. His job is to hunt down and kill these humanoid Trancers (not Bladerunner, I promise). At times, they are shrouded in a frustrating mystery. However, it appears they are followers of Whistler, a cult leader. As they are discovered, their zombie-like nature becomes apparent. His plan is to kill people in 1985 who will benefit him in the future. To stop him, Jack Deth must travel back to the past, inhabiting his ancestor’s body (it’s not Terminator, I promise you. Thank the Lord this came before Highlander).
Logan’s Run (1976)
The story and world of this film are its strongest aspects. In the film, the population age is capped at 30 years old. Upon reaching this age of your own volition, you will perform a ritual in which you give your life a new start. What if there were more sinister motives at work behind this rite of passage?
Life clocks are imprinted on each person at birth. “Sandman” Michael York plays hunts runners, known as “Runners” for defying time limits. To expose the hidden society of the runner, he is chosen by the all-seeing, all-knowing computer.
In addition to a fascinating story, the design of the world is an exquisite expression of the 70’s futuristic style. In addition to some amazing miniature shots of the city overall, there are some outstanding set designs. In essence, the film is a chase scene, which provides a surprising amount of tension and excitement.
Soylent Green (1973)
Logan’s Run’s creation is largely due to the success of this film. This is a film that has had a lasting impact on pop culture, with an ending many have already seen spoiled. Not to mention that it is directed by science fiction legend, Charlton Heston. Despite this, the film is rarely discussed beyond the twist. For this reason, it is included. The ending is perhaps the least interesting part of the film, although it offers so much more.
Once again, world-building is fantastic. This story is set in a world ravaged by the effects of dramatic climate change. Overpopulation, dirty streets, crime, and hot streets plague the world. The atmosphere of this film is excellent. You can feel the sweat and heat emanating from the cinematography. Stairwells are clogged with homeless people. There were also throngs of people anticipating the arrival of the titular “Soylent Green”, an alternative to traditional protein.