Director: Stuart Gordon
Screenplay: Ted Mann
Starring: Dennis Hopper, Stephen Dorff, Debi Mazar, George Wendt, Vernon Wells & Charles Dance
Country: UK, USA, Ireland
BBFC Classification: 15
It’s intergalactic day-glo truckers and sleek killer robots a go-go in Stuart Gordon’s underrated sci-fi comedy. John Canyon (Hopper) is a rough and ready space trucker transporting his latest load of square pigs (!) across the cosmos and he just wants to off-load them, get paid, have a beer and convince his lady squeeze Cindy (Mazar) it’s time for the two of them to get hitched. However, life amongst the stars ain’t so easy and when he‘s conned out of his latest payday, Canyon is forced to space truck a secret cargo. Said cargo turns out to be a shipment of deadly killer military robots which dastardly space pirate Macanundo (Dance) wants to get his own cybernetically enhanced hands on.
Part Convoy, part Red Dwarf and part Gordon’s own Fortress, Space Truckers is a hoot. Beginning, save for the violent and action packed prologue, much like a knockabout comedy about truckers in space the flick saw Gordon let loose with his biggest budget. Featuring a neat mixture of creative miniatures, practical effects and early days CGI, the effects may have dated somewhat but are still eye popping in their colour scheme and inventiveness. Gordon and crew did well to recreate the American trucking world in space and it benefits from a lived in feeling. The gags come thick and fast both verbal and visual and the core trio (Hooper, Dorff and Mazar) have great chemistry meaning its fun to go with them on this wacky space adventure. In fact, Mazar pretty much steals the show as a waitress turned space fugitive with her confident and energetic performance.
Charles Dance is also great fun as the over-the-top villain obviously relishing the chance to cut loose in an oddball role under layers of cybernetic prosthetics. While it’s first and foremost a romp, Gordon brings some signature hard edged action to proceedings with the killer robots the heroes find themselves up against proving to be effectively menacing. The third act becomes more serious as the stakes rise and the action mounts.
While Space Truckers is mostly a hit there are, unfortunately, a few misses along the space highway. The whole trucker life in space angle is jettisoned a little too quickly in favour of igniting the adventure elements. It would have been cool to spend a bit more time with Canyon and Co going about their day-to-day (space) trucking life. The mixture of tones does clash on occasion veering from knockabout comedy to violent action and the pacing is sometimes choppy giving the impression that some re-editing went on to keep the runtime to the coveted 90 minute mark.
Still if you like your sci-fi tinged with comedy and are a fan of Gordon then Space Truckers is a fun ride. There’s oodles of inventiveness on screen which coupled with the easy going charm of the cast and the overall colourful vibe make this space oddity worth checking out for the first time or re-discovering.
Space Truckers is released on Blu Ray in the UK by Second Sight Films on May 14th 2018. The disc comes with snazzy new cover art and several features on the making of the film including an insightful interview about the film’s production with director Stuart Gordon.