Thursday, July 2, 2015

Scott McHaley - Starship Eros (1980)


For the second installment of my walk down mammary lane, I would like to review as best I can a film I haven't seen in 27 and a half years. Ouch ! Playing on a double bill with Ron Sullivan's magnificent BUDDING OF BRIE at the now long gone if fondly remembered Paris theater in the coastal town of Ostend, Belgium, one sunny Spring day in 1982, was this STARSHIP EROS, an unholy hybrid of low brow science fiction and skin flick which has since faded into obscurity. Even in the age of DVD, with just about anything weird and wonderful eventually resurfacing to face the light of day, this one has yet to materialize. My virtual buddy, the estimable Casey Scott (valiantly slaving away on what should be the definitive account of American porn history), has informed me that battered old 16mm copies have changed hands for a small fortune on eBay. Perhaps the absence of star power, rendering the commercial prospects of restoration and distribution extremely dodgy, is the reason why this particular title remains under lock and key, if surviving at all that is.
Memory being a bit shaky, yet pressed into duty since no one else seems to have bothered to review this movie at present, I will attempt to describe to the best of my waning abilities the fairly mind-blowing experience of seeing this projected onto the big screen back when I first managed to bluff my way into an adults only cinema at the tender age of 14 ! Specifics might be a bit hazy but I assume any info on a flick this rare would be welcome. The stuff I do recall from my humble beginnings, I will try and filter through the knowledge I have acquired through research since.
The title is obviously self-explanatory with an all female space vessel save for virile robot "Quasar" (in a surely copyright-infringing C3PO costume, which might be another reason for its current unavailability come to think of it) perpetually satisfying those pesky urges that tend to pop up on interminable galactic voyages. Prior to take-off, Commander Venus (lovely Lily Rodgers a/k/a "Laura West" who appeared in the late Gary Graver's vastly underrated INDECENT EXPOSURE) relaxes in the outdoors jacuzzi, accomplishing the jaw-dropping feat – well, to the inexperienced 14-year old's gaze at least – of sucking on her own ample bosom !
Stalwart stud Mike Ranger adds some much-needed marquee value as the boyfriend she leaves behind as the universe beckons. Her second in command, Lt. Christine Moon, is portrayed by second string starlet Becky Savage who had memorable bit parts in Joe Sherman's PLATO'S, THE MOVIE as an unwittingly incestuous mom and Ann Perry's spy spoof UNDERCOVERS, playing the catalyst implanted with the explosive device all the other characters are after. Presence of aforementioned android assures that girl/girl action remains limited to the daily recommended dose. That lucky bastard's apparently Bob Evans whose only additional credit is for Roger Colmont's cult caper WHITE FIRE where he participated in orgy action. The rest is a bit of a blur.
Not being too impressed even at the time, when my entire porn viewing experience was limited to exactly one preceding feature, already making me blasé, it came as quite a shock to learn in years to come that most of the behind the camera crew was also responsible for adult actress Clair Dia's tremendous directorial debut THE HEALTH SPA. Quite the contrast ! Both came from Capa Productions, run by William F. Ward, who subsequently funded – and God bless him for it – Philippe Mora's deliriously awful HOWLING II : STIRBA – WEREWOLF BITCH with pneumatic Sybil Danning ! Producer "Wesley Emerson" holds even more real world credibility as respected documentary filmmaker Cass Paley (GUNS OF THE CIVAL WAR and WORLD WAR II : BREADLINES TO BOOMTIMES), fusing his disparate activities with the acclaimed WADD : THE LIFE & TIMES OF JOHN C. HOLMES.
The strangely named Evor G. Sib acted as editor on both projects, as he did on Jeff Fairbanks' superlative EXPOSED. The job of production manager provided early employment for Roy Karch who, as a director, would get caught right in the middle of the film to video transition at the dawn of the '80s. He has churned out countless features to this very day, only a few of which deserving mention : THE NEWCOMERS with John and real life wife Laurie Holmes (then still "Misty Dawn"), the understandably elusive THE LOVE GODDESS, starring an underage Traci Lords, and THE LOVE MISTRESS, a solid showcase for tabloid sweetheart Rachel Ryan, who briefly dated "Real Hollywood" celebrities Michael Keaton and Richard Mulligan.
Final credits I managed to dig up prove a tad less tangible. Cinematographer Pablo Lepell also worked on Kirdy Stevens' minor ANYTIME ANYPLACE and Joe Luchine's notorious "roughie" WEEKEND FANTASY with an unlikely career performance from controversial Bill Margold. Which leaves me with the man at the helm, Scott McHaley, who wrote and directed the marginally more accomplished FAST CARS, FAST WOMEN with Kay Parker. By decade's end, he would collaborate with porn star and pioneering Pink Lady (remember them ?) Porsche Lynn on the educational "girls & their toys" USER FRIENDLY shorts. Adding insult to injury, Hustler magazine – one of few publications to seriously review porn at the time – accorded STARSHIP their lowest "totally limp" rating. Will the rest of the world ever get the opportunity to challenge such a harsh assessment ? Don't hold your breath…