Some years ago, my friend Brendan Lucas was at a Southern California flea market and found a collection of behind-the-scenes photos for Lamont Johnson's SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE (1983). The seller was not aware of the odd treasure he had on his hands and so the bounty came at a modest price. In reviewing the 50+ photos, we observed that they looked like vacation photos from another world or flash projections from an alien future outside of time and beyond our understanding. A galaxy far, far away? Either way, and at the very least, we knew that three things were involved: Molly Ringwald, Peter Strauss, and space vixens.
What follows is fifteen of the behind-the-scenes photos from the inscrutable collection, each captioned with the insight of two gents who know nothing at all about the photographer, exceptionally little about the production, and have a healthy disdain for the movie in question. SPACEHUNTER, you might remember, was a 3D adventure movie that was literally and figuratively a journey through a desolate wasteland. Molly Ringwald tosses around some imaginative outer space slang (for example: "scavs," "zoners," and "brainworking") and the special effects work is neat, but ultimately it is an off-kilter mish-mash of STAR WARS, MAD MAX, and THE WAGES OF FEAR.
SPACEHUNTER also notably features what may be the most uncomfortable scene in film history: Peter Strauss violently shampoos Molly Ringwald's hair (against her will) and the exchange has the urgency of a rape scene. It is a striking, genuinely terrifying moment of authenticity in a movie otherwise filled with rubber space monsters.
All that said, please enjoy the slideshow. Terra XI is an inhospitable place, but not entirely without its charms.
- Samuel B. Prime
Founder, LA Ciné Salon