Awfully Good: The Ice Pirates + Teen Wolf (Video)
With GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY still dominating the box office, I feel compelled to look at another comedic space adventure…
The Ice Pirates (1984)
Director: Stewart Raffill
Stars: Robert Urich, Anjelica Huston, Ron Perlman
In a future where water is scarce throughout the galaxy, a group of ice-stealing space pirates must escort a princess to find a fabled lost planet that could save the universe.
It's time to put director Stewart Raffill in the Awfully Good Hall of Fame. The man has a filmmaking pedigree that includes classics like MAC AND ME, MANNEQUIN TWO: ON THE MOVE, the Paul Walker-reborn-as-an-animatronic-dinosaur comedy TAMMY AND THE T-REX, and now… THE ICE PIRATES.
The ROYAL TENNENBAUMS prequel explained a lot.
I have long loved ICE PIRATES and when I walked out of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, it made me want to rewatch this underrated flick immediately. It's got the same deep space setting, goofy sense of humor and rebellious edge to it. Released in early 1984, the film was clearly part of the post-STAR WARS glut of sci-fi films yet could only be considered a ripoff if George Lucas' film had opened with Han Solo busting in on a sharting alien or later encountering the physical manifestation of "space herpes." In case you hadn't guessed, a big part of ICE PIRATES charm is its penchant for slapstick jokes, potty humor and absolutely non-subtle sexual innuendo. However, it also boasts a great soundtrack, unicorns, MAD MAX-style road carnage, and sex robots hand nursing live piglets. And it does this with about 1% of GUARDIANS' budget—creating fancy future intergalactic societies for about $20 per set piece. The fun script doesn't shy away from putting what little money they have on screen. I'm sure they could've saved a few bucks by nixing the space gophers, but it just wouldn't be the same movie without them.
The production did their best to hide the fact that the costuming budget was cut in half.
And how is this for a cast? Television icon Robert Urich plays the wise-cracking "hero" Jason. (I say "hero" because one of the first things we see him do is molest a sleeping princess and lament that he can no longer "rape and pillage" anymore.) Michael D. Roberts is his smooth black sidekick who wears an ascot to sleep and nothing else. A young Anjelica Huston stars as a badass sword-wielding member of Jason's team, while an even younger Ron Perlman appears as a pirate/chef who gets the classic line, "I hope no one minds but I have no intention of facing this sober." And fun fact: the burly Killjoy is played by John Matuszak, who you may know better as the actor under the makeup for Sloth in THE GOONIES.
That is one handsome man.
The real stars, however, are the memorable cast of random robots and creatures that populate the film. Most of the androids in the film are stupid henchmen who release their mechanical bowels before going in to battle (seriously…), but there's also the adorable bot who unsuccessfully tries to stop Jason from kidnapping and assaulting a girl, a racist pimpbot who speaks in jive and offers to show pornography in exchange for money, and Percy, another stereotypical African American robot who gives the ladies sensual backrubs. Not to be outdone, the filmmakers also give us some weird alien creatures as well, from the xenomorphic "space herpe" to the tranny frog lady who Jason hooks up with in order to get a ride. Yeah, that happens.
A still from the much anticipated FAST AND FURIOUS-HUMAN CENTIPEDE crossover movie.
The first act of ICE PIRATES essentially features the main group of space thieves in an assortment of random adventures. There are epic space battles that are literally just the video game Space Invaders shown on their screen due to budgetary restrictions (even down to a Contest Over screen when they lose). Jason and his friends get arrested briefly in a bizarre subplot that involves them getting castrated on a conveyor belt and becoming eunuchs in weird white hair and leotards. And of course there's the aforementioned encounters with the space herpe, an ALIEN homage/ripoff down to the egg and phallic creature inside. Halfway through the actual plot kicks in—Jason and Co. must take the Princess to find her missing father on the Seventh World, a lost paradise filled with water and clean air. This part of the movie may or may not involve Bruce Vilanch's dismembered head.
The Oompa Loompas did not age gracefully much to Willy Wonka's chagrin.
On the way to the Seventh World, Jason stops everything and seduces the Princess using his hilarious sex scene simulator called Passion Storm. This essentially consists of the two engaging in PG-13 sex while a stormy beach scene plays on video screens in his room. (It also features some truly embarrassing sexual banter between the two.) As soon as you can say "stiff saber," they finish doing it and the film immediately switches to its climax (pun intended) and one of the more creative sci-fi endings in the last few decades. During a space battle, the ship gets sucked in to a time warp and everyone begins aging rapidly as they fight. The Princess gets pregnant and gives birth within minutes, prompting Jason to leave the action and go deny it's his child…until it pisses in his face. The years continue to pass and older characters begin to turn to skeletons. Everyone else is ancient, with impossibly long beards and afros. (Ron Perlman gets to be the one to say, "I'm getting to old for this.") Eventually Jason and the Princess are saved by their now adult son—of course played by Robert Urich.
Black Santa refused to give presents to any jive turkeys.
I won't spoil what happens next (though I bet you can guess what the Seventh World turns out to be), but this is a clear example of what makes ICE PIRATES a great B-movie—it just goes for it. It's random and wacky, but never loses steam in surprising and entertaining you. I can't say that for most movies in this column.
Bad one-liners and sexual innuendo for everyone!
Pimpbots, farting aliens, video games, Angelica Huston swordfights and one of the greatest sex scenes ever.
A couple of asses.
Take a shot or drink every time:
- A robot fails
- There's a live animal onscreen
- Jason gets dragged by something
- Ron Perlman gets a line
- There's a racially-charged joke
Double shot if:
- The Space Herpe appears!
But, wait, there's more! Check out the Awfully Good Movies Video Column below! This week we look at Michael J. Fox's classic teen werewolf flick, TEEN WOLF! Check it out below:
CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...