Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Coming Attractions: MESSAGE FROM SPACE (1978)

Actually, I never saw Message From Space in the 70s, In fact, I've only seen it once, about six or seven years ago, when it aired on one of the Encore movie channels (and, man, was I surprised to see how much George Lucas seemingly cribbed from it for Empire and Jedi). But, I did want very badly to see it when I saw the advertisements in the local newspaper back in '78 (and that's one of them, below), and I also owned model kits of several of the spaceships.

I also vaguely recall being uncommonly frustrated by an nigh-unplayable arcade game in the early 80s, that, like Dragon's Lair, used laserdisc technology and large quantities of the special effects sequences from the movie. (ADDENDUM: Yep, apparently I'm not senile quite yet - according to the IMDb, the game did exist and it was called Astron Belt. Wow.)

This Toei production was distributed in the U.S. by United Artists, so I would like to see MGM release it on R1 DVD in widescreen, but as MGM no longer seems to have any interest in its library titles, the chances of such a release seem remote...


  1. It also had a very young and fluffy haired Sanada Hiroyuki (Ring, Twilight Samurai, Sunshine). Wow, I CAN remember Astron Belt but never knew the connection, thanks

  2. Any film (much less sci-fi) starring both Sonny Chiba and and the incredibly-cute Sue Shiomi together is worth tracking down. ;-)
    (Though neither really gets to display their martial-arts prowess in this particular flick.)

    "but as MGM no longer seems to have any interest in its library titles, the chances of such a release seem remote..."

    MGM's in deep financial doggie poop right now, causing a shutdown on the newest James Bond film, among others...

    If you have a multi-region DVD player, you might want to track down one of the Japanese releases of Message.

  3. I saw "Message from Space" late one night on cable in the early 80s. And while Lucas might have cribbed some elements there were several that he thankfully left behind. Spoiler: Magic Walnuts.

    While I did spend a small fortune getting killed on Dragon's Lair at the arcade, I never did see the Laserdisc arcade game. I missed the cultural bit of jetsom.

    What amazes me his how tenaciously this film stick in my head, even when I so desperately want to let it go. The perfect movie to inflict on your friends.

    That is awesome!
    I remember the TV ads for this when I was a kid, but the week it was playing near me, I'd committed some sort of sin (bad grades probably) and was grounded...

    Have you checked Cinemaggedon? They might have it...

  5. This and Star Crash are really the best of the foreign Star Wars knockoffs. They're not exactly what I would call "good," but the breathless pacing and endless weirdness more than make up for their high levels of nonsense.

    And I love how they reveal so much about the cultures where they were made. I've always imagined that, if a Japanese director had filmed Lucas' script for "Star Wars," it would have come out exactly as "Message from Space" (and that if an Italian director had, it would have come out as "Star Crash").

  6. I should have called this blog "magic Walnuts." :)

  7. I actually saw this one in the theatre when it was released. I remember having fun, but thinking the magic walnuts were hilarious.

  8. 100% Gonzo 70's Sci-Fi! This was the height of the space opera genre, as far as I'm concerned;)

  9. I saw both "Message from Space" and "Star Crash" during their U.S. theatrical runs. In both cases, the audiences actively taunted the movies, something I hadn't seen before and haven't seen since (MST3K aside).

    Oh, and I also played "Astron Belt." I was amused to see the "Message" stock footage.

    Another odd "Message from Space" sighting: the old "Shogun Warriors" toy line included a die-cast version of the heroes' spaceship, dubbed "Liabe." I never owned it, but here's a photo:


  10. it as been released a few weeks ago in the us
    check amazon and http://www.coolasscinema.com/2010/04/message-from-space-1978-review.html

  11. I still remember the one time I actually played Astron Belt--which was damn weird. In addition to the Message from Space footage, there was also (soundless?) footage from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; don't ask me why. The actual gameplay was strange, too: IIRC, hitting a single enemy ship while a squadron flew by blew up everything on the screen, I assume because that's what happened in the original shot from MFS.

  12. I lurrrrrrrved Astron Belt. I first played it at the Sydney Easter Show, and it blew my mind, in a holy-crap THIS IS THE FUTURE!!! way. I just did not twig to the fact that I was essentially doing very little beyond watching a montage of borrowed footage. And it cost a bomb to play, if memory serves. Still, it just seemed so damned cinematic after countless games of Galaga and Galaxian.