Monday, October 06, 2008


Bad sci-fi movies are often thought to be a product of the 1950s, an era when rolling up an extra in tinfoil was considered to be enough to create a menacing alien monster. But experience has shown me that bad sci-fi movies know no specific time: when it comes to cutting corners, endorsing mediocrity or just throwing up your directorial hands and saying, “to hell with it!”, it makes no difference if it’s 1958 or 2008. This explains how, despite decades of examples of how not to make a sci-fi movie, 1999’s almost impenetrably bad ‘Space Fury’ came to exist.

It’s the near future, and the international community has banded together to build an orbiting research station called Tesla. Mission Control is based in a purpose-built facility just outside Moscow, and all seems relatively harmonious until Russian police detective Rostov investigates the murder of a local prostitute. He uncovers incontrovertible evidence that the murderer is one of the cosmonauts on the space station, and furthermore that the murderer plans to sabotage the station, knock it out of orbit and send the debris raining down on a major American city.

Mission Control frantically tries to determine who the murderer is, which is relatively straightforward since there are only four people on the station. Five if you include The Door.


Rene is a hot French astronaut. We know that she’s French because she describes a simple task as being “a piece of gateau”, and she suddenly says “merde” in the middle of an otherwise unaccented English sentence. Obviously the makers of ‘Space Fury’ were angling for war with France as a promotional tool.

The really odd thing about Rene is the choice of actress for the role. About all she has going for her is the fact that she’s hot, and yet for her big “incidental nudity” scene, according to the credits, they used a body double named Stacie. Is it really that hard to find a woman with a hot body who can’t act and is desperate enough to do a movie called ‘Space Fury’? I’d have thought that Hollywood was full of such people.


Max is a space tourist, with a large enough bank balance to buy a trip to the station thanks to a lucurative career as a golf champion and a sponsorship deal with a sports drink called ‘Zestorade’.

To demonstrate that he’s a champion golfer, the film shows him practicing his putting in the station common room. Unfortunately, the actor playing Max had patently never held a putter before in his life, so the illusion that he’s a champion golfer isn’t a strong one. One might also be moved to wonder why the space agency elected to spend millions of dollars putting a set of golf clubs into orbit, especially when their use was going to be limited to a space station the size of a Winnebago.

So Max isn’t really a golfer. Come to think of it, I’m not even convinced that he’s really a black man either, given that he dances like Rick Astley.


Yuri is the station commander. He’s also the lucky guy who gets to boink Rene, despite the fact that he looks like a walrus that’s been slathered in glue then rolled around on a barber shop floor. One can only assume that space does strange things to a woman’s preferences.

When not having hot, socks-on sex with a woman of dubious Frenchness, Yuri is a voice of reason and competence on the station. Obviously that’s why he has to die 36 minutes in.

The Door

The Door is by far the most versatile member of the cast, filling a variety of roles from ‘Main Common Room Door’, ‘Airlock Door’, and even a brief cameo as ‘Shuttle Door’. As the only cast member with acting skills and charisma, it’s inserted into every possible scene, delivering foreboding, lighthearted comic relief or pathos where the human actors can’t. It also knows how to underplay a performance, unlike Michael Pare.

The fact that it didn’t get top billing in the cast credits is an injustice to rival the 18th century slave trade and/or the cancellation of ‘Firefly’.


Konrad is a scientist of some sort, sent to the station to conduct experiments of some sort. He’s played by Michael Pare, a washed up actor of some sort. It transpires that he’s the sabouteur, and also as crazy as a coked-up chicken. Apparently some terrorists on Earth are blackmailing him after they videotaped him killing the prostitute, but even after they’re neutralized he still carries on trying to kill everybody. While I applaud his protestant work ethic, I wish he’d applied it to getting a better agent, or acting lessons, or both.

It’s difficult to tell how much of his woeful performance is a result of his atrophied acting gland, and how much can be blamed on the terrible script and nonsensical plotting. I like to be even handed and apportion blame equally.

But what, I hear you ask, is 'Space Fury' actually about? It’s a cautionary tale, I think, on the ill-advisedness of spending one’s entire film budget on some CGI, sexy red lingerie for your leading lady and a cool door.

Quite how ‘Space Fury’ manages to cram so much ineptitude in its 80 minutes is beyond my understanding. There’s just so much wrong with it, from the fact that the terrorists somehow managed to videotape Konrad killing his hooker from an angle that could only have been achieved by getting him to hold the camera himself, to the fact that a blonde in Mission Control reads information from a computer monitor that isn’t switched on, to the fact that the boom mike keeps bobbing into the top of scenes as if it’s trying to upstage The Door. How is this possible? Quantum encoding of crap? Wormholes channeling cinematic incompetence from a parallel universe? A time dilation effect caused by stupidity traveling at close to light speed?

Further study is needed. However it will need stronger minds than mine.


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